In these dire times, football fans need something to keep them going. FIFA scratches an itch but it doesn’t fill the void. But you can always rely on Football Manager.

For the past week and a bit, the 2020 iteration of the game has been free to play. Many will have taken full advantage of this but, despite the global lockdown, not all people have the time to unearth the gems in the game.

Fortunately, however, we do. And we’ve put together a list of wonderkids you’re going to want to look at. We’ve already covered goalkeepers and full-backs. Next up are centre-backs.

Alessandro Bastoni

Alessandro Bastoni on Football Manager 2020.

When we simulated our Football Manager save for five seasons, one of the first things we looked at was how Liverpool had replaced Virgil Van Dijk. The Dutch colossus helped the Reds to three titles in four seasons before being sold to Paris Saint-Germain for £60million which, even when you consider his age, seems a snip.

The Reds used that money to sign Internazionale centre-back Bastoni. And you can see why he was the chosen one. Aerially dominant, he reads the game well and his positioning allows him to quell attacks with ease. If you can get him early on during your save, you’ll have one of the best centre-backs in the game. 

William Saliba

Arsenal have a deal for the Frenchman all sewn up having agreed on a £27million transfer with St. Étienne for the youngster in the summer of 2019.

However, when he arrives at the Emirates on Football Manager, Saliba isn’t automatically a starter. Because of this, there’s a window of opportunity for managers to land the ball-playing centre-back on loan initially.

You can then work on a deal to sign Salibra on a permanent basis, though it's likely you'll have to break the bank to land him. But he's worth it. Saliba is perfect in a high line and his explosive pace allows him to cover a lot of ground in a short space of time. He’s comfortable on the ball making him an ideal modern-day centre-back. If you can get him, do it. 

Jules Koundé

Sevilla defender Jules Koundé on Football Manager 2020.

There’s got to be something in the water in France. Koundé is the second of three French defenders on this list and we’ve not even included Dayot Upamecano or Ibrahima Konate. The 21-year-old centre-back is a talent and that's why Sevilla parted with €25million to sign the youngster last summer. 

In the right environment, Koundé evolves into a ball-playing phenom who can do everything in the defensive third. Again, he won’t be cheap, but world-class centre-backs have world-class price tags attached to them. Sign him and you have a general to help you piece together a Football Manager defensive dynasty. 

Jean-Clair Todibo

Jean-Clair Todibo on Football Manager 2020.

Currently on loan at Schalke from Barcelona in real life, Tobido was one of Football Whispers' 20 to watch in 2019. And it's little wonder – he has the potential to be the best centre-back on Football Manager 2020.

In the version we simulated, the LaLiga juggernauts didn’t give the French youngster an opportunity, opting instead to spend money on Kyle Walker and John Stones instead. 

Tottenham Hotspur capitalised on this and built their defence around him, and rightly so. Even at 24, he’s scarily good and he’s only going to get better. When looking at centre-backs, you look at pace, strength, anticipation, decisions, heading and tackling. In each of these areas, Tobido ends up with a rating of 16 or higher. He also has the vision and the passing ability to act as a quarterback.