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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, next up are the full-backs.
Trent Alexander-Arnold is arguably the best right-back in the game. Aarons isn’t too far behind the Liverpool maestro – he's even been likened to the Reds defender. That is perhaps the biggest compliment you could pay the 20-year-old. He can dominate the right-hand flank and this allows you to play with an inside forward ahead of him.
In our five-season simulation, Aarons ends up at Chelsea. He displaces Reece James in Frank Lampard’s starting XI and he shares the right-back role with Alexander-Arnold for England. If you pay extra attention to his crossing, he has the potential to be an assist machine.
In real life, the Ajax youngster is on Bayern Munich’s radar. The German giants reportedly tried to sign him in January and had a €25million bid rejected. It’s easy to understand why the Bavarians wanted to add the Dutch-born US international to their ranks: he’s the right-footed version of Alphonso Davies.
Comfortable at full-back or wing-back, Dest has all the traits of a winger but he’s switched on defensively, too. He won’t be cheap but he’s a genuine game-changer. Treat him as you would Alexander-Arnold and you have a playmaker in a wide area.
The 21-year-old started life as a winger but he’s impressing for Getafe as a left-back. Barcelona own the Spain under-21 international but the signing of Junior Firpo suggests the Catalan club don’t see Cucurella having a long-term future at Camp Nou.
He as a £75million release clause but he won’t cost that. If you play an attacking style and rely on your full-backs for width, the curly-haired left-footer is the man for you. What makes him even more of an attractive option is how versatile he is. Cucurella can play anywhere down the left and he gives you as a manager a number of options.
Arsenal were even linked with a move for the Barça prospect in January.
In our Football Manager 2020 save, Manchester City paid £80million to pry Wagué away from Barcelona and in 2024 he’s their starting full-back. His stats in this particular save are impressive and paint a picture of him being an adept dribbler with good technique.
But if you make Wagué your project, you can improve everything else to make him even more of an all-rounder. He starts on loan at Nice and won’t be cheap – but he can play on either flank and this sort of versatility makes him invaluable when you’re looking to build a squad.