Every side challenging for the top honours of world football needs a centre back capable of producing master-class displays. Bringing solidarity and confidence to teams, centre backs can make all of the difference in the tightest games, whether it’s blunting the sharp offensive minds of the opposition or, more recently, springing lethal counter-attacks from deep-lying areas.
The art of defending is just as important as the ability to create and score goals. The top centre backs in the world thrive on the battles that they engage in with the most potent strikers, relishing the chance to best them in a game of physicality, determination, and intelligence.
Defenders rarely get the recognition that they should for playing such a vital role, with the majority of awards going to attacking players. So, it’s even more impressive when a centre back claws in one of the top awards, with Fabio Cannavaro and Franz ‘Der Kaiser’ Beckenbauer landing the Ballon d’Or.
On this page, you will find the top centre backs of FM 21 primed to reach the heights of these illustrious names, ready to cement themselves in the history books.
Finding the top centre backs of FM 21
To ensure that we only have the best defenders in FM 21, we chose them based on a positional rating of at least 18 and a minimum current ability of 160.
The current ability (CA) of a player is the total sum of their attributes added together, with some excelling in more areas than others.
The top-five centre backs, or defender central (DC) in-game, are featured in this article with tips on how to approach signing them and their best attributes, with a table showcasing all of the defenders meeting the criteria at the foot of the page.
Virgil van Dijk (CA 180 / PA 183)
Current Ability / Potential Ability: CA 180 / PA 183
Wage: £180,000 p/w
Value: £65 million
Best Attributes: 18 Anticipation, 18 Heading, 18 Determination
The current talisman of Liverpool’s backline started his career with Groningen, in the Netherlands, before the Scottish juggernaut Celtic picked him up for £2.48 million in 2013. After building a reputation as a classy ball-playing defender in his two years with The Bhoys, Southampton came calling with a £14.13 million offer to bring Virgil van Dijk to the Premier League.
Van Dijk lined up for the Saints 80 times, scoring seven goals during his time on the south coast. His impressive displays prompted Liverpool to make him the most expensive defender in the world at the time, with a £76.19 million fee. Now 130 appearances into his Liverpool career, with 13 goals and six assists, he’s had a massive impact on the Reds defence, winning the Premier League and Champions League in his time at Anfield.
The quality that Van Dijk shows in real life is translated directly into FM 21, with the developers granting him the highest CA in the game for a centre back. Displaying 18 heading, 18 anticipation, 17 tackling, and 17 decisions, he stands as one of the most prolific defenders within the game. Bundle in his 17 strength and 16 pace, he’s truly a nightmare for any opposition to try to beat.
When looking to sign this phenomenal centre back, you’ll need to be a club that’s competing in the Champions League and have a spare £120 million in the bank. For the money, you will be signing the best defender in the game for the coming years.
Sergio Ramos (CA 174 / PA 174)
Team: Real Madrid
Current Ability / Potential Ability: CA 174 / PA 174
Wage: £337,993 p/w
Value: £8.25 million
Best Attributes: 20 Heading, 20 Determination, 19 Leadership
Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos began his career at right back with fellow La Liga side Sevilla. He played just 45 games for the Andalusian club before he joined Los Blancos for £24.3 million in 2005.
Now, 15 years later, Ramos has established himself as one of the top defenders in world football. The Spaniard’s ability to unsettle attackers combined with a love of the physical side of the game has cemented him in the hearts of the Real Madrid fan base. Having made 668 appearances and scored 100 goals, he will undoubtedly enter the hall of fame at the Bernabéu.
An unparalleled 19 leadership gives Ramos the ability to command and conquer teams starting from the defence, uniting the players around him and leading by example, thanks in part to his 20 determination. He’s impervious in the air with 20 heading aiding in both offensive and defensive situations. Ramos’ defensive assets of 18 tackling and 16 marking make him a fantastic option at the back, although, his 13 positioning isn’t the best.
Having recently signed a year-long extension in FM 21, Ramos isn’t interested in discussing a transfer at the start of any career, but he could be available on a free transfer come the end of the season as the deal is set to expire in August 2021. If he can be persuaded to leave Madrid, he’s available for as little as £12.25 million, although, his high wages could be a stumbling block.
David Alaba (CA 171 / PA 174)
Team: Bayern Munich
Current Ability / Potential Ability: CA 171 / PA 174
Wage: £175,139 p/w
Value: £57 million
Best Attributes: 19 Natural Fitness, 18 Stamina, 17 Work Rate
Seven-time Austrian Footballer of the Year, David Alaba made his name playing for Bayern Munich, starring as a flying full-back with an eye for goal and a potent left foot from dead-ball situations. Before arriving in Bavaria, the defender was scouted and signed by Bayern from Austria Vienna for a bargain £135,000 in 2008.
He developed in Bayern Munich’s youth setup and graduated in 2010, with just a brief six-month loan to Hoffenheim being his only time away from the Bundesliga giants. Alaba has amassed 411 appearances for the club so far, scoring 33 and assisting 49 more. With the emergence of Alphonso Davies stunning at left back, the Austrian veteran has been moved into a centre back role, proving to be just as effective in the middle of the backline.
Out of contract in the summer of 2021, Alaba could be available on a free transfer at the end of the first season. However, you’ll need to be a Champions League club to begin contract negotiations. If you wish to sign him right away, a fee in the region of £90 million will be plenty to acquire the versatile defender.
Alaba is well worth the money, not only is he the third-best centre back in the game, but he is also the left back with the highest CA. His athletic ability is showcased in-game by his 18 stamina, 17 work rate, and 19 natural fitness. Also possessing 16 pace, he can keep up with the quickest of opponents without any problems.
Aymeric Laporte (CA 170 / PA 173)
Team: Manchester City
Current Ability / Potential Ability: CA 170 / PA 173
Wage: £120,000 p/w
Value: £61 million
Best Attributes: 17 Concentration, 16 Decisions, 16 Positioning
Aymeric Laporte signed for Manchester City in January 2018 for a modest £58.5 million, joining the Citizens from Spanish outfit Athletic Bilbao. The French centre back had spent his entire career at the Basque club. making 222 appearances in La Liga, scoring ten, and assisting six.
During his time in Spain, Laporte made a name for himself as a ball-playing centre back who’s keen on playing out from the defence to help the flow of play. This is what caught the eye of Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, and now 95 games into his Etihad stay, his performances have continued to impress – although, injuries have hampered his game time.
Excelling in his defensive game, Laporte boasts 16 tackling, 16 marking, and 16 positioning, showing the quality to foil attackers’ best-laid plans. Along with his defensive prowess, he emphasises the skills of a ball-playing centre back with 16 vision and 16 passing, which allow Laporte to find teammates all over the pitch.
You can sign Laporte in the first season on FM 21 for a tidy £79 million, which includes add-ons. He is another player that requires Champions League action to join a club; otherwise, he will refuse to enter into negotiations.
Gerard Piqué (CA 169 / PA 170)
Current Ability / Potential Ability: CA 169 / PA 170
Wage: £109,660 p/w
Value: £17.5 million
Best Attributes: 18 Composure, 18 Positioning, 17 Decisions
The Catalan-born defender will already go down as a legend of Barcelona and Spain, having spent a career winning just about everything that there is to win in the world of football.
The veteran defender began his career in Barcelona’s La Masia before being signed to Manchester United in 2004. The move didn’t pan out for several reasons, and Gerard Piqué returned to Barcelona in 2008. He currently has a massive 553 appearances for the Blaugrana with 48 goals and 13 assists to his name, amassed over a career that has spanned 16 years in professional football.
Unfortunately for those looking to purchase him, Piqué has recently signed a new contract, so he won’t be interested in a move away in the first season that you enter FM 21. The elite centre back comes packed with useful traits, possessing the Marks Opponent Tightly and the Tries to Play His Way Out of Trouble traits, just to name a couple, meaning that he is adept at playing out from the back in a free-flowing team.
An incredibly intelligent defender, Piqué is equipped with 18 positioning, 16 marking, and 16 anticipation, showing that he excels at reading the game and adapting. Include his 15 tackling, 17 decisions, and 18 composure, and you have a calm-minded, solid defender who’s capable of dictating a game from the defence.
All of the best centre backs in FM 21
All of the best centre backs in Football Manager 21 are featured below, sorted by their CA.
|Virgil van Dijk||29||Liverpool||180||183||£180,000||£65 million|
|Sergio Ramos||34||Real Madrid||174||174||£337,993||£8.25 million|
|David Alaba||28||Bayern Munich||171||174||£175,139||£57 million|
|Aymeric Laporte||26||Manchester City||170||173||£120,000||£61 million|
|Gerard Piqué||33||Barcelona||169||170||£109,660||£17.5 million|
|Raphaël Varane||27||Real Madrid||165||172||£197,162||£52 million|
|Kalidou Koulibaly||29||Napoli||164||171||£195,068||£45.5 million|
|Leonardo Bonucci||33||Juventus||164||173||£211,324||£16.25 million|
|Marquinhos||26||Paris Saint-Germain||163||165||£252,200||£48.5 million|
|Matthijs de Ligt||20||Juventus||163||185||£213,696||£38.5 million|
|Stefan de Vrij||28||Inter Milan||163||165||£123,543||£38.5 million|
|José Giménez||25||Atlético Madrid||161||168||£87,867||£48.5 million|
|Milan Skriniar||25||Inter Milan||160||170||£97,534||£35.5 million|
|Mats Hummels||31||Borussia Dortmund||160||177||£175,256||£35.5 million|
|Giorgio Chiellini||35||Juventus||160||174||£113,789||£3.4 million|
Splash the cash and take your defence to the next level with one of these elite centre backs in FM 21.
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