In terms of the impact they have on every match in FIFA 17, it's hard to argue against your midfielders being the most important part of your side. They certainly cover the most ground during a game and contribute to every phase of the contest, from defending and winning the ball to creating and scoring at the other end.
The football world is awash with quality midfielders at the moment, and as such, FIFA 17 is packed full of midfield talent, including returning favourites like Youri Tielemans and Alen Halilovic, alongside newly upgraded players like Tottenham's Dele Alli (who we picked out in our FIFA 17 world-beating wonderkid XI).
Naturally, all these guys will cost you big bucks in Career Mode, but if you're travelling to the transfer market without a magnanimous billionaire owner by your side, you still have plenty of options. We've scoured this year's game to find 10 of the best bargain midfielders, many of whom will grow into future stars.
We're kicking things off with a bang here because Kovalenko is arguably one of FIFA 17's biggest bargains. He doesn't look like much to start off with, but he has decent stats in the right areas – including his dribbling, vision, shooting, passing and free-kick taking – and these stats will grow from the mid-70s into the 90-plus range over the next few years, turning him into a world class talent.
You can bag Kovalenko from Shakhtar Donetsk for around £9 million (€10m), which is peanuts for a player with 87 potential. He should be high on your wanted list.
The young Spaniard had a standout season at Real Betis last year, and has been rewarded with some fantastic stats in FIFA 17. Whilst he was a winger in last year's game, his dribbling, vision, passing and ball control ratings all hover around the 80 mark this year, which makes him perfectly suited for a central attacking role.
His finishing could use a bit of work, but he has plenty of room to grow, up to 85 potential overall, and when you can nab him for around £12.5m (€13.9m), you'd be silly not to have a look at him.
If you're looking for a central midfielder who can control the pace of a game, Almiron is certainly worth a look. £10 million (€11.1m) will get you a player who grows up to 83 overall – certainly not the highest potential on this list, but he's already an accomplished midfielder, and he has rare pace for a centre mid, with 90 acceleration and 88 sprint speed. The rest of his important stats are hanging around the mid-70s, but they'll improve greatly over time, making him a really useful buy, especially if you link him up him with a strong, ball-winning partner.
There's something extra satisfying about discovering a quality player in South America before any of the big European clubs get their hands on him. Galdames is still on the books of Union Espanola in Chile, which means you can nab him for a really good price, and cheap wages on top.
He's already a decent player, especially if you employ him in a deep-lying role, where his tackling, passing, 86 stamina and 85 interception ratings can be really effective. On top of that, he'll improve to an 84 potential overall rating, which makes him an absolute steal at around £3.5m (€3.9m).
A Career Mode favourite from last year's game, Bazoer's potential has been downgraded slightly, but he's still an excellent signing, and cheaper than he was last year.
Aside from his set piece taking and his finishing, Bazoer is as versatile a centre midfielder as you’ll find. His physical and passing stats are particularly good, which makes him capable of really dominating a game at both ends, and he’ll only improve over time. £10 million (€11.1m) is at the top end of players on this list, but a midfielder of Bazoer's ability will be worth five times that amount if you train him well, as he should reach around 85 overall.
Like Bazoer, Neves was an excellent prospect in FIFA 16, but EA have seen fit to downgrade him slightly this year. In fact, he compares well to Bazoer. Although not quite as athletic and physical, Neves is a better tackler, and arguably a better passer and creator thanks to his vision and interception ratings. Either way, they're both fantastic all-round midfield signings, with the same potential overall, but if you're trying to save a few pennies, Neves will come slightly cheaper at around the £7 million (€7.8m) mark.
Ascacibar is another undiscovered talent from South America, this time from Estudiantes in Argentina's Primera Division. He's a great mixture of stats for a defensive midfielder – his 92 stamina, 92 jumping and 81 interceptions are all pretty exceptional for a 71 overall rated player, and his tackling is excellent too.
It's a shame that his strength is rated so low at just 46, but he's still a quality signing, especially when you consider that he'll cost you around £4m (€4.4m), and that he can add 13 points to his overall, growing up to an 84 rating.
Alongside Kovalenko, Omur might be the joint best bargain in this list. At 17 years old and 66 overall he's going to need some serious training and a few stints out on loan to fulfill his 84 potential, but some of his stats are already outstanding.
He's a great athlete, with 84 sprint speed, acceleration and agility, as well as 90 balance, but his passing, vision and freekick taking are all decent too. By the time he reaches that 84 rating, Omur may well be the next Andrea Pirlo – a peerless midfield general. And all yours for just £1.5m.
Ajax's Nouri is a buy for the future. There are plenty of those in Career Mode, but few midfielders come close to Nouri's combination of potential and early game price. Although he's classified as an attacking midfielder, Nouri’s strengths – although they need some training – are in his technique on the ball, his vision and his playmaking, rather than his pace, and he comes with four star weak foot and skill move ratings, too. A rare combo for such a young player.
He's only 68 overall to start off, but he'll grow 16 points to 84 overall, and he can be yours at the beginning of the game for less than £2m (€2.2m). Bargain.
Rated at just 71 overall at the start of Career Mode, Carreno doesn't immediately look like the solution to your problems in the engine room, but he'll soon grow into the low 80s, and he's a fantastic box-to-box midfielder. His pace is decent, and he'll get around the pitch well thanks to his 80 stamina. On top of that, his passing and tackling is around the 70 mark, and his finishing is decent enough to improve upon, too.
If you invest some time in him, Carreno will turn into a really solid player, and he's available for around £4 million (€4.4m) at the beginning of the game. Throw in a dispensable squad player as makeweight and you might get him for almost nothing!