“Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles.”
Sir Alex Ferguson certainly knew what he was talking about. The Manchester United great understood that to win a title you needed, first and foremost, a solid and resilient backline. The same can be said when playing Football Manager.
However, a strong defence isn't always good enough, especially not in the modern game when the art of defending is considered to be a thing of the past. Sometimes all three points can hinge on your goalkeeper.
For example, David de Gea has won games single handedly, literally, over the past few seasons for Manchester United while Liverpool have struggled with consistency between the sticks and as a result success has eluded them.
Football Manager 2018 is upon us, and accompanying the arrival of the franchise’s latest instalment are a host of articles detailing the top 50 wonderkids you need to look out for.
Scouting the sheer number of players can be overwhelming and narrowing it down to a select few is stressful. With this in mind, we’ve looked to shorten these lists down. In this particular article we’ve taken a look at defenders you definitely want in your squad this time around.
We’ve ticked off attackers, given you the lowdown on the midfielders to keep an eye on and reeled off a list of must-have defenders to build your foundations around.
Now we’ve assembled a list of talented goalkeepers who vary in price in an attempt to give managers the best opportunity of snagging at least one of them, even if you aren’t at the helm of one of Europe’s biggest clubs.
The obvious choice. Donnarumma is a must have if you have a large enough budget to tempt Milan into selling their most prized asset. He could cost £100million and still work out as great value for money, after all he would your first-choice ‘keeper for the next 15 years.
If you can afford him then it's a no-brainer.
Another one to sign if you're expecting to build a legacy at a club. Lafont is the long-term successor to Hugo Lloris between the sticks for France and he's got the traits to be better than the Spurs man.
However, Toulouse make it difficult to sign the 18-year-old. In the first window on the game they're asking for £160million and won't negotiate. Their stance does ease up during the summer of 2018 if they've had an underwhelming season in Ligue 1. An offer around the £40million mark gets your man, a relative bargain if you're prepared to wait a season to secure his signature.
Move swiftly to secure Mannion. During the first transfer window you can sign him for £5million with a number of add-ons included. He's not first-team ready from the off but a season or two out on loan will do wonders for his development.
He's good enough for a team competing for the Champions League and he helps with the home-grown quota, something you need to keep an eye on. He's a future starter for England if managed correctly.
Italy are spoilt for choice when it comes to goalkeepers. Meret is the second of three Italian goalkeepers on this list and has the potential to rival Donnarumma in the future. He's on loan from Udinese during the first season so a deal can't be struck immediately but it doesn't mean you can't negotiate with his parent club.
He's a potential bargain, available for as little as £4million if you structure the deal properly with add-ons that will tempt the Serie A side into selling him. He's a great shot-stopper for a side looking to attack.
If you're unable to pry Donnarumma away from Milan then why not go for the next best thing? Plizzari is the man those at the San Siro have lined up to replace his teammate if Mino Raiola manages to push through a big move in the near future.
If Milan didn't have Donnarumma then it would be Plizzari making waves in Italy. The 17-year-old is on loan with Ternana so isn't available during the first season but a move in the summer of 2018 is well on the cards. He needs exposure to first-team minutes to develop properly but your patience will be rewarded.
The heir to Manuel Neuer's crown for both club and country. Those in Bavaria rate the 17-year-old highly, and you should too. Früchtl is expected to be eased into life in Munich and the player is more than happy to wait for his chance with him being a lifelong Bayern Munich fan.
The Bundesliga champions accept offers between £15-20million during the first transfer window on the game, which seems steep but in the long run it will no doubt be worth it, but the player outright rejects a move. Persistence is the name of the game and a lot of public courting works in your favour if you return for him during in 2018.