So, you’ve bought Football Manager and thrown yourself in as a top flight manager, have you? Daunting, isn’t it? Well, perhaps a shortlist of best buys might help give you a head start?
These aren’t the most obvious names (apart from one, but he’s REALLY good.) They are, however, some useful hints for you as you go into battle. Good luck, gaffer. And may all your signings be the result of thorough scouting and extensive deliberation...
GK – Tim Krul
Newcastle United’s chubby-faced Dutch stopper should be at the top of your shortlist if you’re a big club in need of an imposing presence between the sticks. Though his handling (13) is curiously low, his reflexes (18) and aerial ability (16) more than make up for it. He’s only 24 as well, so he’s going to improve in the future. Go on, test Mike Ashley’s resolve.
DR – Gokhan Gonul
As lovely as it is to lead a sequined troupe of prancing show-ponies, sometimes everyone needs an utter git in the defence. Fenerbahce’s Gokhan Gonul is perfect for this. His technique (12) isn’t bad at all, but it’s his determination (17), work rate (16), pace (15) and aggression (16) that make him the perfect guard-dog for those tricksy left-wingers.
DL – Razvan Rat
For some reason, Shakhtar Donestk go completely mad at the start of FM13 and stick a host of excellent players on the transfer list. Pick of the bunch is Razvan Rat. Yes, he’s 31, but his pace (15) and stamina (15) still hold up and he’s a set piece specialist too. You should be able to snap the Romanian up for around £2.6m.
DC – Toby Alderweireld
If you’re the kind of manager who likes to play the ball out from the back, you simply have to take a chance on Ajax’s Toby Alderweireld. One of the chief talents in a golden generation of Belgians currently invading Europe's superpowers, this 23-year-old can tackle (15) and head (14) to a more than reasonable level, but it’s his passing (17) and creativity (12) that make him such an interesting option. Are you brave enough to put a beauty where a beast should be?
DC – Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik
If you like to shackle opposing strikers, you should try and sign Jean-Armel Kana-Biyik from Stade Rennais as soon as possible. The Cameroonian is quick (15) enough to keep up with most players and he can mark (17) anyone out of the game. He’s as strong as an ox as well (17), so you can lash him on to anyone and watch as they fade out of the game.
MR – Ilsinho
Another of Shakhtar’s refugees, Brazilian winger Ilsinho won’t set you back much more than £5m and he’s a real threat down the flank. He can dribble (16) past anyone, he’s got bags of flair (16) and he’s so determined (16), that you can rely on him not to lose confidence if you get off to a bad start. At that price, it would be rude not to buy him.
ML – David Templeton
In a similar vein, Rangers’ David Templeton is a decent option for the top flight penny-pinchers. He’s only worth £300,000, but he’s quick (16) and he can dribble (14) and sometimes that’s all you want from a wide chap. Be warned, he’s a truculent little sod and needs careful man-management, but, hey, you get what you pay for.
MC – Alex Teixeira
He’s listed here as a central midfielder, but Alex Teixiera is so technically (16) adept that he can play anywhere in front of the halfway line. He’s fast (16), he can run with the ball (17) and for some reason Mircea Lucescu has him rotting away in the Shakhtar reserves. Rescue him. Rescue yourself. It won’t cost you much more than £6m.
MC – Benat
After a metronomic presence in the centre of your midfield? You want Benat of Betis. You’ll have to fight off Chelsea and Manchester City for his services, but for around £15m you should be able to secure this creative (17) pass-monster (17) easily enough. The best bit? With so much determination (17), he’ll keep his head and play his natural game even when you’re getting spanked on a wet Tuesday night at Stoke.
SC – Edinson Cavani
A bit of an obvious one this, but he’s worth a mention purely because of his versatility. Whoever you’re managing, whatever your style, Edinson Cavani will make your team better. He’s good at heading (16), he’s quick (17), he can finish (18). He can do anything in the front line and he doesn’t seem particularly keen on staying at Napoli either, so you should be able to lure him away for around £30m. And would you just look at those abs.
SC – Dani Guiza
At the other end of the price scale is this diamond Guiza. If you’ve taken over a club short of strikers and there’s not much in the piggy-bank (Liverpool managers, I’m looking at you), then for around £2m you can get a perfect stopgap. The former Spanish international is quick (15) enough to play as a poacher, especially as he’s so good off the ball (17), and he can put the ball in the net too (15). Bargain.
NOTE – The players listed above were generated on the 13.1.2 version of Football Manager 13 in a game with a medium database and nine active leagues (England, Scotland, France, Germany, Holland, Portugal, Spain, Italy and Russia).