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Football Manager 23 Best Centre-Backs

Profiles on some of the best centre-backs 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 centre-backs 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.

Scroll down for the centre-backs we recommend, or click below for even more FM23 pages.

What roles can centre-backs play in Football Manager 23?

Centre-backs are one of the easiest roles to get wrong in your tactic, especially when playing at a lower level. The different roles available give so much scope for playing in different ways, really setting the foundation for how your team is going to play. The different roles are:

  • Central Defender
  • Libero
  • Ball Playing Defender
  • No-Nonsense Centre-Back
  • Wide Centre-Back

The three ‘traditional’ roles are of course, Central Defender, Ball Playing Defender and No-Nonsense Centre-Back. The downfall of many amateur FM23 players is leaning too heavily on Ball Playing Defenders, especially with personnel that are not equipped to play that way.

Sometimes, especially when playing at a lower level with technically limited players, it’s best to commit to playing No-Nonsense Centre-Backs and letting them focus on their defensive work.

Central Defenders and Ball Playing Defenders are the natural progression past this. Central Defenders will look to play simply, while Ball Playing Defenders will look to be more expansive with their passing game.

These three roles all have a defend, stopper and cover duty. Stoppers will look to step into midfield and break up attacks early – often useful for slower defenders. Covering defenders will look to sweep up from behind – often useful for fast defenders. While centre-backs on the defend duty will hold the defensive line as normal. Be careful with how you mix these duties up!

The other two roles are more unconventional. The Libero role is the old school ‘sweeper’ that we don’t see a whole lot of in modern football, except that the Libero will then roam into midfield when his team has possession. On the attack duty, they will look to attack the edge of the box as a genuine threat from range as well as a creator. This role can only be used in a back three.

Lastly, there is the new Wide Centre-Back role, which can also only be used in a back three. The Wide Centre-Back really changes up how your team can play with possession, encouraging the WCB to support the attack in different ways depending on what duty they are set on.

On defend, they will look to support the attack from wide areas but stay deep. On support they will look to push further forward and overlap out wide, while on attack duty they will also look to dribble more.

What attributes are important for centre-backs in FM23?

The base core attributes are pretty simple: Jumping reach, pace, strength, heading, marking, tackling, positioning, aggression, anticipation and concentration – essentially the best attributes for playing as a No-Nonsense Centre-Back are the core fundamentals.

But as you move up the divisions and acquire better players, other attributes – primary technical ones – will become important. The popular ball playing defender role requires vision, technique, passing and first touch.

A Wide Centre-Back on attack duty will even require dribbling as an important attribute. And the Libero role requires a bit of everything: even flair.

Who are the best centre-backs 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

Joško Gvardiol

RB Leipzig's Joško Gvardiol, one of the best centre-backs in FM23

Joško Gvardiol is one of the world’s most exciting defensive prospects, whose stocks continue to rise on an almost weekly basis through his performances for Leipzig and Croatia.

Gvardiol is an elite level centre-back in FM23 that can also play as a left-back equally effectively. And he can play multiple roles, including the wide centre-back role in a back three. He truly is a physical monster, with elite level speed, strength and natural fitness, as well as a great combination of mental attributes for a defender: good determination, bravery, aggression, work rate and team work.

€35 million is all you need to get Gvardiol at the start of your save. That is a staggeringly cheap price, one that’s affordable to a lot of clubs. He should be at the top of your list if you’re looking for a young centre-back.

Jurriën Timber

AFC Ajax's Jurriën Timber, one of the best centre-backs in FM23

While he was denied a summer move to Manchester United, the level of clubs that Jurriën Timber has been linked with is demonstrative of the Dutch centre-back’s level of talent.

He is a high level ball-playing defender with excellent passing and technique, but also the defensive stats to back that up: tackling, positioning, etc. He is a tad undersized at 179cm, but solid jumping reach should be enough to counterbalance that.

Ajax won’t let Timber go for cheap – and by cheap, we mean less than €80-odd million. Be prepared to dive into a long, protracted negotiation to get him. His price reserves him for the elite of the elite as well.

Illia Zabarnyi

Dynamo Kyiv's Illia Zabarnyi, one of the best centre-backs in FM23

Illia Zabarnyi is a hugely experienced centre-back. At just 20, he already has 24 caps for Ukraine after debuting as an 18-year-old in a 7-1 defeat to France, while he also has over 70 appearances for Dynamo Kyiv. While centre-backs typically blossom later in their career, Zabarnyi is not waiting around.

The Ukrainian is a more agricultural centre-back than some of the others on this list, with his strengths predicated around his size and defensive nous more than his ball-playing qualities or technique. He is 1.80 metres tall with very strong tackling, teamwork, concentration, positioning and composure stats, as well as a rounded set of physicals.

Zabarnyi is one of the more affordable options on this list. You can get him for around €17.5 million, which is excellent value for a centre-back of his profile and it opens him up to a range of clubs at multiple levels.

Giorgio Scalvini

Atalanta's Giorgio Scalvini, one of the best centre-backs in FM23

Giorgio Scalvini is one of the most promising Italian defensive products, having enjoyed a quite meteoric rise in the second half of 2021/22, playing close to 1,000 senior minutes as an 18-year-old at Atalanta. He was rewarded by Roberto Mancini, who drafted him into the Italian senior national team to join up with the squad, and then awarded him his first cap in a Nations League game against Germany.

He looks like one of the very best young centre-backs in FM23. String across the board – technically, mentally, athletically – with valuable player traits that include Brings Ball Out of Defence and Does Not Dive Into Tackles. Another little quirk is his ability to play as a defensive midfielder, which throws up some interesting options if that’s something you’d explore.

Valued at a remarkably low €15-20 million, largely owing to his relatively small reputation, you can get Scalvini for the top of that range. That makes the young Italian one of the must-sign young centre-backs at the start of your saves.

Gonçalo Inácio

Sporting CP's Gonçalo Inacío, one of the best centre-backs in FM23

Gonçalo Inácio was a favourite of Football Managers on FM22. He had the potential to become a top-level starter, one capable of playing for a European-level team. His skillset is promising in FM23 but doesn’t quite live up to the quality and potential of some of his peers.

Nevertheless, he’s a solid value option coming in at around the €30 million mark. The €45 million release clause in his Sporting contract puts a hard cap on his price, at least until he renews his contract there. If you’re a club in the upper-end of a top-five league, Inácio is well worth considering.

If you structure the deal correctly, €35 million is the price that gets Inácio. That isn’t bad but there are better options out there, like the aforementioned Gvardiol and Scalvini.

António Silva

SL Benfica's António Silva, one of the best centre-backs in FM23

A product of SL Benfica’s exceptional youth academy, António Silva has burst onto the scene this season. He’s become an integral part of Roger Schmidt’s side, coming out of nowhere to cement himself as a starter and put in multiple impressive performances in the Primeira Liga and Champions League.

Silva just looks like a centre-back – tall and leggy – and he is very much a modern one, comfortable on the ball in particular. His skillset is reflected in FM23; he looks every bit the elegant and composed centre-back that he is.

There is a €100 million release clause written into Silva’s contract, but you can get him for about a third of that price at the start of your saves.

Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk is once again rated as one of the best centre-backs in FM23.

Matthijs de Ligt is a strong player in FM23, as are the likes of William Saliba at Arsenal and Wesley Fofana at Chelsea.

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