Top 10 Transfer Bargains on 'Football Manager 2016'
If you've chosen to read this, it's likely the Football Manager series has already taken over your life.
The release of FM16 means it's now time to endlessly scour the market for bargain buys, top youngsters and players who can make a difference for ambitious managers.
With the help of Tom Davidson—Football Manager analyst at Sports Interactive—we've concocted a varied rundown of players who should enter your consideration.
10. Jose Enrique: £2M-£4.5M
Current club: Liverpool
Something of a forgotten man at Anfield, it's easy to overlook what a solid all-rounder Jose Enrique has been over the years. He's not particularly quick, but he anticipates the ball well and is one of the Premier League's more physical full-backs.
The presence of Alberto Moreno, Joe Gomez and Jon Flanagan has all but ended his chances of making an impression under Jurgen Klopp, though.
Davidson's verdict: "Full-backs are becoming increasingly hard to come by, and you should look to take advantage of the fact Enrique has fallen down the pecking order at his current club. A must-sign player for a mid-table/bottom-half side."
9. Borja Valero: £6M-£8M
Current club: Fiorentina
From Real Madrid's youth ranks to Mallorca, West Bromwich Albion and Villarreal, Borja Valero has never quite reached his potential in the real world.
Now at Fiorentina, he's a gem on FM16, FIFA 16 and PES 2016. The 30-year-old possesses sharp vision, an excellent passing range and is more than willing to cover ground through the centre of midfield. He can be leaned on to lead smaller teams or contribute reliable quality to more competitive squads.
Davidson's verdict: "Transfer listed at the start of the game, and with some fantastic technical stats, he’d be a good addition to virtually every side."
8. Morgan Amalfitano: Free Agent
Current club: N/A
Occasionally brilliant, often frustrating, Morgan Amalfitano has the potential to be something of a problem player for FM16 managers. However, his quality will shine through when content, so bed him down and make sure he's happy.
Davidson's verdict: "Has international and top-flight experience, as well as a good set of attributes across the board. The one catch is he’s unavailable to sign for a club until January but would still be a good signing for the second half of the season alone."
7. Jefferson: £2.3M-£4.3M
Current club: Botafogo
Every club needs a player who is known by one name. Jefferson—or "Jeff" if you're friendly with him—has surprisingly yet to make an appearance at an elite European club.
Currently playing in Brazil, the 32-year-old represented Turkish sides Trabzonspor and Konyaspor after moving away from his home nation in 2005. Ten years later, and armed with a wealth of international experience (famously saving a Lionel Messi penalty in 2014), he's a valuable short-term asset to most sides.
Davidson's verdict: "A goalkeeper who is at the peak of his career and ready to come in and give your team an instant lift. He's got an outstanding set of skills across the board, and if you can get him in at a mid-table top-flight side, then you could well be picking up a European spot at the end of the season."
6. Ron Vlaar: Free Agent
Current club: N/A
It wasn't long ago that Ron Vlaar was being linked with moves to Arsenal and Manchester United by Jamie Anderson of the Daily Star. Physical, dominant in the air and a natural leader, injury problems have halted the Dutch centre-back's career to a standstill.
Now 30 years old and having been released from Aston Villa in the summer, Vlaar is likely to be a key name in the upcoming winter transfer window.
Davidson's verdict: "Injured until December, so you will have to be patient and wait until the January window to snap him up. Your patience will be rewarded with a highly competent defender who has an excellent set of mental attributes."
5. Gino Peruzzi: £1.8M-£4.8M
Current club: Boca Juniors
Pacey, ambitious when bombing forward and a solid tackler, Gino Peruzzi has the opportunity to develop into a star, both on and off FM16.
Clever negotiations can see him snapped up cheaply on the game and will allow players to steadily build his value over time. He is a smart investment who can slot into a number of wide roles across defence and midfield.
Davidson's verdict: "One of the best young full-backs on the planet. Not only is he technically very good, but his mental attributes are impressive considering he’s only 23 years old."
4. Marco Motta: Free Agent
Current club: N/A
Another player who can work in defence and on the flank, Marco Motta has represented the likes of Udinese, Juventus and Watford during a career that has never settled.
He is an aggressive, blood-and-guts type of player who doesn't shy away from the less glamorous side of the game.
Davidson's verdict: "A player who would be a great signing for Championship clubs. He’s got a good all-round game, and his experience at some of Serie A’s biggest sides could prove invaluable in a league as tight as the Championship."
3. Adriano: £2M
Current club: Barcelona
Adriano has spent the last five years struggling for game time at the Camp Nou, where Jordi Alba continues to dominate the left-back spot. He is a confident player and more than able to contribute, though.
The former Sevilla man combines flair, incisive dribbling skills and an eye for goal to offer an attack-minded option from the back.
Davidson's verdict: "He’s transfer listed at the start of the game, and at 31, he’s not a long-term signing, but he does have real quality in key areas."
2. Eder Alvarez Balanta: £2M-£5M
Current club: River Plate
European giants such as Manchester United and Roma have been linked with a move for Eder Alvarez Balanta, including by Jamie Anderson of the Sunday Express. The impressive 22-year-old possesses the combative nature needed to dominate in defence at such a young age.
He's another star we can expect to hit the headlines as the January window approaches. South America's top talents rarely remain on the continent, and now the Colombian has gained international recognition with Los Cafeteros, the lures of Champions League football may take hold.
Davidson's verdict: "One of the best young defenders on the planet, and he is an absolute steal at under £5 million. Physically imposing but also technically gifted, Balanta should have no trouble adapting to the rigours of the English top flight."
1. Lucas Romero: £2.75M-£5.75M
Current club: Velez Sarsfield
Arguably one of the lesser-known names on the list, Lucas Romero has the potential to develop into one of FM16's most authoritative midfielders. He is agile, passes the ball well and naturally breaks the game up with his smart positioning skills.
Capped at under-20 level for Argentina, he is moving in the right direction to make an impact at next year's Olympic Games. Get ahead of the curve and tie him down to a long contract.
Davidson's verdict: "Sign him and your midfield is in capable hands for the next decade. At 21, he already has some outstanding stats in key areas, and these will only improve with time."
A huge thank you to Tom Davidson for contributing to the article. You can check out his story as a Football Manager analyst right here. Be sure to follow him on Twitter. FM16 is available for PC, Mac and Linux right now.