Football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross looks at ten top players you can pick up for a bargain in Career Mode’s lower divisions…
Looking for a new FIFA 13 challenge to get stuck into before you get your hands on 14? Give lower league management a go in Career Mode.
That’s what I’ve been doing lately and – as someone who’s used to spending millions on big stars or promising wonderkids – having a smaller transfer budget and less money for wages has been really interesting. When you pay out £250k on a player for a Premier League team it’s probably a small percentage of your transfer chest, but as a League 2 club that could be your whole budget, so in the lower divisions it’s essential that you spend wisely on players that can have an instant impact and, even better, make you a nice profit in the future if you decide to sell.
In this week’s Backpage I’ve picked out ten that will do exactly that, and you can sign them at the start of season one for bargain prices.
RB * FK Austria
There are cheaper right-backs available that will do just fine in the lower leagues – like Najram’s Majed Ali or Chunnam Dragons’ Lee Sang Ho – but if you’ve got the budget then Fabian Koch is well worth the extra cash you’ll have to pay to meet his asking price and wage demands. He’s a quick, 23-year-old attacking full-back with an Overall of 63 at the start of the game, but after a couple of seasons that should be into the 70s as most of his key attributes will climb if you play him regularly. I had offers just short of £1 million by the end of the second season in one of my saves, and even though that was almost four times what I paid for him he’d become such a good player that I decided not to sell.
Lee Kyung Ryul
CB * Busan I’Park
I like centre-backs that are good in the air, powerful enough to avoid being out-muscled and have the pace to stay with fast strikers or recover from bad positions. Lee Kyung Ryul has all of those attributes. I first signed him for a League 2 team – he only asked for £1k per week in wages – and he was completely dominant at that level. He starts with an Overall of 63 and if you get him playing well that can climb to around 69 or 70, which seems to be about his limit. If you’re playing the games rather than simulating them then you’ll be happy to stick with him through the divisions as his speed and height really make a difference.
Kim Young Chan
CB * Jeonbuk FC
Kim Young Chan is the younger, cheaper version of Lee Kyung Ryul as he’s also tall, quick and strong. He’s got five years on his contract at the start of the game, so you’ll have to overpay slightly, but he’ll grow nicely in terms of ability and value if you give him plenty of action. In my most recent save he missed half of season one with an injury but by the second season he’d still managed to get his Overall up by six. He now boasts 79 Acceleration, 76 Sprint Speed, 77 Strength and is worth twice what he was at the start of the game. If you have more cash to spend and you like your centre-backs to be really fast then there’s always Colorado Rapids’ Marvell Wynne, but you’ll need around £350k for the fee and £4.5k per week in wages to get him.
CDM * Al-Ahli
There are lots of bargain players available in the Saudi Pro League and holding midfielder Waleed Bakshween is one of my favourites. The 22-year-old starts off with an Overall of just 59 but he doesn’t feel like it on the pitch, thanks to his good Strength, Stamina, Acceleration and Sprint Speed. He’s a bit of a midfield dynamo in the CDM position – always buzzing around making tackles and starting attacks – and with a few seasons under his belt that Overall should be up to around 65. If you have more to spend then take a look at Chiapas centre-mid Pedro Hernandez. He’s a really good all-rounder at lower league level but will cost around £300k to sign and £2k per week in wages.
RM * Innsbruck
I like to have quick players in wide positions and Schütz starts off with 90 Acceleration and 85 Sprint Speed. There are a lot of fast wingers out there at bargain prices but I go for this guy because he improves pretty quickly; by season two in one of my saves he has an Overall of 67 – up from 59 – an Acceleration of 95, Sprint Speed of 93 and is valued at just over £500k. He isn’t a great crosser so I tend to avoid playing too wide with him and instead look for one-twos to get him running behind the opposition’s defence.
LM * Charlton Ath
Although he starts off with a low Overall rating of 53, Harriott has 73 for Dribbling, 91 Balance, 86 Acceleration, 82 Sprint Speed and 82 Agility, so he feels good with the ball at his feet. He’s only 18 years old, so as long as you can get him playing well and often you should see his attributes improve very nicely. In season three of one of my saves he’s added five to many of those numbers and is worth twice what I paid for him. If you do buy Harriott then keep in mind he doesn’t have great Ball Control at first, so you may need an extra half-second to take a good touch before using his speed and dribbling to run at defenders.
Lee Jong Ho
CF * Chunnam Dragons
I almost left Lee Jong Ho off this list because his club aren’t too keen on selling so you may have to pay around £350k to get him, which is a lot for a lower league club, but in the end I decided to include him because he’s too good to miss out on if you do have that kind of cash. He starts off with good all-round attributes for a striker at lower league level – I first signed him in League 2 – and gets better very quickly; I received an offer of £800k for him in the season one January window. By the end of the second season Jong Ho had 85 Acceleration, 87 Sprint Speed, 71 Finishing, 89 Jumping, 73 Long Shots and was scoring regularly.
ST * FC Nordsjaelland
If you only have enough cash to sign one player on this list, make it FC Nordsjaelland striker Uffe Bech. With an Overall of 59 when the game starts he may not look that great initially, but he rapidly grows into a lower league goal machine. At the start of season three in my current save he can’t stop scoring in the Championship and I regularly receive seven-figure offers for him, not that I’m tempted to sell; Bech has 78 Finishing, 93 Balance, 91 Sprint Speed, 84 Acceleration and 76 Dribbling at this point so I’d rather he stays and helps fire my team into the Prem.
ST * Hartlepool
James is another young forward who’ll be a great player and a fantastic investment for your lower league club. He’s 17 years old at the start of the game with an Overall of 59, but after just a couple of seasons that will be edging closer to 70. I bought him in League 2 and now, up in the Championship, he’s worth the best part of £1 million and has some really impressive numbers. As well as developing into a quality striker he also becomes a useful winger with good Crossing and Dribbling attributes, so you have the option to play him out wide if you need to.
Kang Soo II
ST * Jeju United FC
If you’re after a fast striker that can make an immediate impact at a bargain price then check out Jeju’s Kang Soo II. With 90 Acceleration and Sprint Speed at the start of the game he has the kind of pace that causes real problems for defenders at lower league level so – even though his Finishing isn’t that great – he should bag plenty of goals for you. He won’t improve as quickly as some of the younger strikers here, but if you do decide to sell after a season or two then you should be able to double your money.
So they’re ten of the players I recommend signing if you’re a lower league manager on a budget. If you know of more great bargain players I haven’t mentioned then please comment below or tweet them to me @darren_cross so other gaffers can sign them up.
Thanks for reading The Backpage, and see you next week.