|So this category states defensive midfielder but includes players who played in the central midfield role as well as oppose to attacking midfielders who we'll get to later, got it? Good!
In which case we'll start with Championship Manager 93 and two players who were very much central midfielders in Austin Berkley and Mark Draper. Berkley was with Swindon who happened to be in the Premier League back in 93/94 (yes, it was that long ago!) while Notts County were banging on the play-off door in the league previously known as Division One. If memory serves me correctly, it was Draper who was more expensive of the two, which in real world terms is probably fair enough seeing as Berkley only ever made one league appearance for Swindon before dropping down the leagues with the likes of Shrewsbury and Barnet, while Draper at least turned out for Leicester City and Aston Villa.
Tommy Svindal Larsen was called an 'absolute beast' in an article in The Guardian newspaper back in 2008 which looked at six of the greatest names from the CM/FM series. Larsen popped up in Championship Manager 97/98 and was an steal from Norwegian club Stabaek. A must-buy for most computer managers but in the real world the best he managed was a four-season spell with FC Nürnberg.
The legend of Seth Johnson couldn't be more different when comparing his computer generated career and his actual career. In both universes he was regarded as a huge prospect; the main difference being when you forked out a big transfer fee and high wages in CM 99/00 he was awesome at the heart of your midfield, but when he signed for Leeds United it didn't quite work out like that.The story goes that Johnson's agent went in with the agenda to secure his man a maximum of £13,000 per week but when free-spending Leeds chairman Peter Ridsdale offered £30,000 - which rendered Johnson and his agent stunned - Ridsdale upped the offer to £37,000 as his final offer believing their silence was a negotiation tactic. And that is probably the story Johnson is best known for as his time at Leeds didn't work out and he was eventually shipped back to Derby County.
Another legend from Championship Manager 99/00 is Dean Keates. Described by footballfancast.com as an 'all-action midfield dynamo a la Steven Gerrard', Keates was a real bargain from Wallsall. Today Keates can be found playing in the Blue Square Premier for Wrexham where he has been for the past four years.
We move to Championship Manager 01/02 next and Liverpool prodigy John Welsh, a player who could be the linchpin of your midfield for many years to come. It wasn't always easy to get Liverpool to part with their wonderkid, which wasn't the case in real life where he was sold to Hull City after just four league appearances for the Merseyside club and can now be seen down at Deepdale with Preston North End.
Mark Kerr was the Scottish legend who gave a nation hope that they had found a new Graeme Souness. For a teenager, his stats for teamwork, determination, and workrate were remarkably high at the start of the CM4 version and you'd have been a fool not to snap him up from Falkirk. But Kerr never reached his CM potential and is probably best known for that dreadful backpass in the Scottish Cup Final against Rangers.
In CM 03/04 Fredy Williams Thompson put Guatemala on the football map as he would boss any midfield in any league should you opt to send your scouts to Central America. In the real world, no one took a punt on Thompson which I guess means no club was willing to send their scouts south of Mexico. Either that or he was actually really crap.
Two real Football Manager gems in my eyes are up next. Benedict Vilakazi is a player I always made a swoop for along with his Orland Pirates teammate Lebohang Mokoena. You could snap the pair up (work permits permitting) for less than £2m and have your defensive and offensive options sorted out for a decade. Vilakazi's career high was a brief spell in Sweden with AaB Aalborg, but now he is at Botswana Meat Commission. I have no idea if that is a football club or a supermarket.
Fredy Guarin also featured in FM05 and was an awesome player at £1m from Envigado. In my opinion Guarin is on the verge of tipping the scales in terms of losing the tag of an amazing FM player who hasn't lived up to his in-game performances. He was part of a very good Colombia squad at the World Cup and rumours have circulated recently that he could be leaving Inter for Serie A champions Juventus. But for now, we'll keep him in this vote - just!
Three players make the list from FM06 with Steffen Hofmann, Nik Besagno and Hedwiges Maduro. Hoffman seems a popular choice on FM community forums such as The Dugout, and Besagno was an impressive youngster you could pluck from the MLS in the United States. Maduro is my pick as I remember taking a gamble on him from Ajax for around £8m and he didn't let me down. In the real world? Hoffman started at the top with Bayern Munich but ended up with Rapid Vienna, Besagno has never left the US and Maduro had a decent career in La Liga with Valencia and Sevilla but is now in the Greek league with PAOK.
Another double entry and another couple of nearly men who could yet prove us all wrong. In Football Manager 2008 everyone went after Boca Juniors Éver Banega who was available at a very fair price for a player of his quality. And in the same game we started to see the emergence of Miguel Veloso, who you would try to sign in a double swoop at Sporting CP alongside teammate João Moutinho. Banega struggled to make an impact at Valencia which didn't help when he did a Brian Harvey and managed to run himself over in 2012, breaking his ankle and leg in the process. Velos hasn't quite kicked on like Moutinho has and is now playing for Dynamo Kiev in Ukraine. It could have been all so different had Bolton been able to come up with the funds to buy him in 2009..
The last player on this is Lorenzo Crisetig from FM10; a player who still does great things in the proceeding versions of the game but the 21-year-old is still to make a league appearance for Inter and keeps getting farmed out on loan. In Football Manager he is a regular for Real Madrid already.
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