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Football Manager 23 Best Central Midfielders

Profiles on some of the best central midfielders you can sign on your FM23 saves

We cover youth football and we love Football Manager. We’ve combined both to compile a list of the young central midfielders that you should start scouting on your FM23 saves. These aren’t necessarily “best” but they’re interesting prospects for clubs across the spectrum of football.

They’re players that we like in real-life that look good in FM23. For more, check out our extensive talent lists and in-depth player profiles. Click below for more pages, scroll on for player profiles.

What roles can central midfielders play in Football Manager 23?

Alongside defensive midfield and striker, central midfield has the biggest variety of roles: eight. Seven of these roles can be split into three categories: defensive (Ball Winning Midfielder, Carrilero), playmaking (Deep Lying Playmaker, Advanced Playmaker, Roaming Playmaker), and attacking (Mezzala, Central Midfielder). And the outlier is, of course, Box to Box Midfielder.

Let’s get it out of the way early and explain why Central Midfielder is in our ‘attacking’ category. Simply, it is because Central Midfielder on attack is one of the most popular and overpowered roles in the game, with midfielders capable of playing it in the right system being able to score a huge number of goals, rendering the role with the support duty a bit of a moot point.

Likewise, the Mezzala is also a very popular role in FM23, with some even opting to play the ‘double-Mezzala’ in a three-man midfield. The Mezzala will look to move into the channels and out wide, look to be influential in the way the team plays in the final third, and suit a more up-tempo, high-pressing system that will allow them to commit to positions further up the pitch than other roles.

In terms of playmaking roles, the Deep Lying Playmaker is a popular pick for many coaches, with the role combining decent defensive solidity with playmaking from deep, while you can toggle how aggressive they are on both sides of the ball by toggling the Defend and Support duty.

A Roaming Playmaker is the ball carrying equivalent of the Deep Lying Playmaker. They’ll look to carry the ball up the field and when they get the opportunity, they’ll camp at the edge of the box looking to influence play in the final third with a shot or a killer ball.

The Advanced Playmaker is a more attacking option. They will look to sit between the opponent’s lines of defence and midfield looking to receive and then spark attacks with their creativity.

And then there are the defensive roles. First there is the Carrilero; a shuttling midfield that likes to operate across the breadth of the midfield looking to combine defence and attack in that way, rather than trying to be aggressive with their positioning.

The Ball Winning Midfielder is more aggressive, especially on the support duty, where they will look for opportunities to press and win the ball back higher up the field.

What attributes are important for central midfielders in FM23?

Unlike some other positions like centre-back, there isn’t really a set of core attributes that every central midfield role requires. However, if your player has a strong foundation of passing, tackling, work rate, stamina, positioning and decision-making, then they should suit most roles.

For the more creative roles, good passing, vision, technique and off the ball movement are crucial. The Roaming Playmaker will also need dribbling and long shots, but will also be aided by pace and acceleration that will help them carry the ball through midfield with speed. The Deep Lying Playmaker is probably the most simple: give them the ball, and make sure they can control it with a good first touch, and ensure they have the decision-making skills to best propel your team forward.

Advanced Playmakers will need good dribbling and agility to negotiate traffic in the final third, as well as some flair to pull off the best creative moves to break down defences.

In terms of the more defensive roles, Ball Winning Midfielders will require marking, strength, and pace. Carrileros need to be a bit more expansive, so they will need good vision, off the ball movement and technique alongside that tackling.

For the attacking roles, you will be looking for good finishing, work rate (to track back after surging into the box), as well as speed, off the ball movement, composure and decision making. The Mezzala will stay a little deeper in attack, but will defend a little bit higher than a Central Midfielder on attack duty, so long shots and flair become important for your Mezzala, while tackling and teamwork are still important for Central Midfielders.

The Box to Box Midfielder role is probably the most all-encompassing in terms of how many attributes are required to play it. Work rate, strength, stamina, pace, acceleration, positioning, work rate, teamwork, decision-making, aggression, composure, technique, passing, tackling, first touch, long shots, dribbling, finishing… you name it, a Box to Box Midfielder needs to be able to do it.

Who are the best central midfielders in Football Manager 23?

Trent Alexander-Arnold23Liverpool8790
Kyle Walker32Manchester City8585
Reece James22Chelsea FC8488
Achraf Hakimi23Paris Saint-Germain8487
Kieran Tripper31Newcastle United8484
Dani Carvajal30Real Madrid8484
Juan Cuadrado34Juventus8383
Jesús Navas36Sevilla8383
Ricardo Pereira28Leicester City8383
Noussair Mazraoui24Ajax8286

Warren Zaïre-Emery

PSG's Warren Zaïre-Emery, one of the best central midfielders in FM23

We don’t say it lightly at Scouted Football that Warren Zaïre-Emery is one of the best talents we have ever seen. As a 15-year-old in 2021/22, he dominated the UEFA Youth League against opponents three and four years his senior, backing that up with very strong displays at the Under-17 Euros, and then with his senior debut for Paris Saint-Germain. He is the real deal.

For a 16-year-old at the start of the save, Zaïre-Emery is exceptional. He already has a profile that would enable him to be a starter for a lot of Ligue 1 clubs. He’s solid across the board, but obviously still has loads of potential and time to develop into the elite-level midfielder that he will almost certainly become. His well-rounded profile means you can specialise him into a certain role or continue to nurture his all-round talent.

Zaïre-Emery is an elite-level talent, and that’s reflected in his price range. His base level is €18 million, which constitutes a remarkably high price for someone of his age and experience. If you really want to get him, it will probably take €25 or so million in the first summer. The astute play would be to pounce when he wants minutes that PSG probably won’t be able to afford him.

Yunus Musah

Valencia's Yunus Musah, one of the best central midfielders in FM23

Yunus Musah is taking big strides forward under Gennaro Gattuso this season in a very young Valencia side. The former Arsenal academy player has been a La Liga regular since he was 17 and with good reason.

Musah is a versatile midfield player that can also play in a more attacking role or out wide. Physically and technically, he is more than ready to play at a European level. However, it is his mental stats that are perhaps his strongest, with great determination, aggression and work rate underpinning his ability to dictate terms in the middle of the park.

Valued at around €30 million, Musah is a good option for European-level clubs across the top-five leagues. His lowly wage at Valencia might make it that bit easier to turn his head as well, potentially driving the price down. Be clever when you make your move for Musah.

Ivan Ilić

Hellas Verona's Ivan Ilic, one of the best central midfielders in FM23

Former Manchester City academy player Ivan Ilić has warmed wonderfully to life in Serie A, becoming a key player at Hellas Verona over the last two seasons under first Ivan Jurić and Igor Tudor.

He was already strong in FM22, and things are no different in FM23. His best role is as a playmaking midfielder. He is an excellent passer, dribbler and technician. But he is also a strong defensive player that can easily play behind the ball as well as a deep-lying playmaker as a central or defensive midfielder.

Ilić is valued between €38-59 million at the start of the game, making him quite an expensive option in midfield. He’d have to maximise is potential to justify that sort of fee, we think, but keep tabs on him and see how his situation at Hellas Verona evolves over a couple of years.

Matt O'Riley

Celtic's Matt O'Riley, one of the best central midfielders in FM23

Joining Ange Postecoglou’s Celtic in 2021/22 has been a great career choice for a number of players, and it was no different for Matt O’Riley, who joined the Hoops from MK Dons in January 2022. He quickly became one of Postecoglou’s most trusted soldiers, quickly making the step up from League One to feature regularly in the Scottish Premiership, and more recently in the Champions League.

O’Riley has an intriguing skillset in FM23. He is quite two-footed, hard-working (with good work rate and determination), but also a pretty well-rounded set of physical and technical attributes. You can play him as the more advanced player in a midfield two or an attacking eight in a midfield three, the latter being the most suitable option and similar to what he does at Celtic.

Be prepared to part with a fee that tops €25 million to get the London-born Danish international. If you’re managing a Premier League club, that’s well within your wheelhouse and well worth it.

Moisés Caicedo

Brighton's Moisés Caicedo, one of the best central midfielders in FM23

Moisés Caicedo took huge strides forward in 2022 under Graham Potter’s tutelage at Brighton. So much so, that he was even linked with massive money moves to top six Premier League clubs. While the move didn’t materialise, Caicedo continues to impress, now under Roberto De Zerbi.

In FM23, Caicedo has fantastic athletic attributes that make him a hard-running two-way midfielder. High determination, natural fitness, stamina, pace, acceleration and work rate are also complemented by good dribbling, passing and technique. He is a great option to immediately improve the base level of your team’s midfield if you can afford him.

You’ll have to pay about €60 million to get Caicedo in the first summer. That may seem like a lot, but balance the long-term rewards and it works out as relatively little. Top-six clubs in the Premier League and title competitors across the other big five leagues should be lining him up.

Luka Sučić

Red Bull Salzburg's Luka Sucic, one of the best central midfielders in FM23

An FM22 favourite returns. Luka Sučić is taking great strides forward for both club and country, after a breakout 2021/22 with Red Bull Salzburg. Sučić is an attack-minded midfielder who almost hit double-digit goals in 1,800 minutes in the league last season.

Sučić is a dynamic midfield talent in FM23. He is tall, good on both feet, has a rounded set of physical attributes, and excellent mentals for a player who starts the game at 19. A little bit of extra finishing should make him a lethal as a central midfielder with the attack duty.

If you structure the deal correctly, Sučić can be signed for about €15 million at the start of your save. That’s tremendous value for a player of his profile and potential. Make the most of it.

Kevin de Bruyne and Luka Modrić are once again two of the very best central midfielders in FM23.

We love Warren Zaïre-Emery, and his real-life elite-level potential has been matached in FM23.

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