Football Manager 2021 Wonderkids: Best Young Centre Backs (CB) to Sign

Looking for the next Gerard Piqué? We’ve got Football Manager 21’s next crop of top defender central wonderkids right here.


A vital position on the pitch, centre back, or defender central on Football Manager 21, holds the last line of defence in front of the goal. As with every other position, there comes a time for youth to shine and show their mettle in the face of even the most potent of strikers.

Wonderkids in this position can be a dime-a-dozen, but finding a young player with the art of defending running through their veins will bring a massive boost to any team.


To save you the arduous task of scouring the back-lines of FM 21, we compiled this list of Football Manager 21’s best young central defenders (DC) with all the wonderkids in this position listed below.

Choosing the best wonderkid centre backs (CB) in FM 21

We chose the players on this list, based on their age (21-years-old or younger) and potential ability (PA). Making sure that we had only the top wonderkid central defenders, each player’s positional ability in central defence is at least 18.

Due to how potential ratings are determined in FM 21, we’ve included players with a set PA and negative potential abilities, which indicate the potential range of their ability given the right development through game time, form, and coaching.

Potential ability ranges from zero to 200, with 200 being the best possible rating that a player can achieve. A negative PA rating equates to a set range that the player’s PA can fall between, which changes with each game save. The negative PAs and ranges follow this pattern: – 10 (170-200), -95 (160-190), -9 (150-180), -85 (140-170), and down to -1.


So, to track these wonderkids down, we’ve only included those with a minimum PA of 150, and the PA ranges 150-180, 160-190, and 170-200.

Below, in the body of the article, you’ll find the top five DC wonderkids in FM 21, chosen for their PA, with all of the other wonderkids meeting the criteria featuring in a table at the foot of the article.

Matthijs de Ligt (163 CA / 185 PA)

Team: Zebre (Juventus)
Age: 20
Best Positions: DC (20)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 163 CA / 185 PA
Value: £38.5 million
Wage: £213,696 per week
Best Attributes: 18 Strength, 17 Bravery, 17 Heading

Becoming the youngest player to feature at a major European final – in the 2017 Europa League show-piece – was just the beginning; the Dutchman went on to cement a starting role the following season. Rising to prominence during the 2018/19 season, Matthijs de Ligt caught the eyes of Europe’s elite with his performances in the Champions League for Ajax.

Forming a mature and impressive partnership in defence with Davinson Sánchez, De Ligt went on to receive the Golden Boy award – the first defender to do so – for his exploits at centre back. Showing his class in the 18/19 season, he earnt himself a move to the Italian champions, Juventus.

His talents are evident in FM 21, boasting 16 stamina and 16 work rate, De Ligt runs tirelessly for the team. His mental fortitude is also represented by 17 bravery and 16 determination, showing maturity beyond his age.

The heir to Giorgio Chiellini’s place at Juventus, De Ligt has one of the finest tutors to learn from, nurturing his raw defensive talents of 16 tackling, 15 marking, and 15 anticipation. It will take a very appealing offer for Juventus to consider parting with this talent in FM 21, though.

Jean-Clair Todibo (134 CA / 173 PA)

Team: FC Barcelona (on-loan to Benfica)
Age: 20
Best Positions: DC (20)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 134 CA / 173 PA
Value: £7.25 million
Wage: £21,978 per week
Best Attributes: 17 Pace, 16 Jumping Reach, 16 Tackling

Jean-Clair Todibo signed for Barcelona from Toulouse back in January 2019. Struggling to break into the illustrious line-up of Barcelona, the club opted to further his development through loan spells with FC Schalke 04 and now Benfica.

With only 25 senior appearances across all clubs, the French defender is still making his name in the world of football. From his limited game time comes impressive performances, earning a Player of the Month Award with Schalke.

Todibo is a defender who’s remarkably comfortable with the ball at his feet, with his 15 composure enabling clear thinking under pressure. The DC wonderkid’s natural defensive ability is also shown by his 16 tackling, 15 strength, and 14 marking. Paired with 17 pace, he’s a frightening player to attempt to get past.

Unfortunately, Todibo starts FM 21 on-loan with an option to buy at Benfica, but waiting patiently after another season of development, and this wonderkid will be even more prepared for a starting place in your side.

Dayot Upamecano (139 CA / 172 PA)

Team: RB Leipzig
Age: 21
Best Positions: DC (20)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 139 CA / 172 PA
Value: £14.5 million
Wage: £42,177 per week
Best Attributes: 18 Pace, 17 Strength, 17 Tackling

Alongside Jean-Clair Todibo is our second Frenchman on this wonderkid central defenders list, Dayot Upamecano. France’s future centre back pairing poses a brilliant prospect for the reigning World Cup champions. Upamecano currently plays for German outfit RB Leipzig, having joined from sister club Red Bull Salzburg in 2017.

Since making the move to Germany, the Frenchman has been a mainstay in RB Leipzig’s defence, appearing 125 times, scoring four, and assisting two to date. He also made his debut for France in September 2020, scoring once in his first three caps.

An incredibly athletic player, Upamecano has 18 strength and 17 pace, which is an exceptional pair of ratings for a DC. Not only does this wonderkid have great physical ability, but his 17 tackling, 16 aggression, and 16 marking also make him a fearsome adversary.

Such an important player for Leipzig, Upamecano won’t be an easy acquisition, and it’ll take a sizable figure for the German side to let him go: the figure we received in-game was in the region of £75 million.

Alessandro Bastoni (146 CA / 169 PA)

Team: Inter Milan
Age: 21
Best Positions: DC (20)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 146 CA / 169 PA
Value: £14 million
Wage: £48,766 per week
Best Attributes: 16 Jumping Reach, 15 Determination, 15 Consistency

Starting his career with Atalanta, Alessandro Bastoni was snapped up by Inter Milan in 2017. The then 17-year-old Bastoni cost Inter £27.99 million – a massive sum for a teenager. After signing permanently, Bastoni was loaned back to Atalanta for the 2017/18 season.

Following his spell with Atalanta, the young defender found himself again heading out on-loan for valuable game time, with Parma his destination. It proved to be a fruitful decision, with Bastoni making 24 appearances and scoring once along the way. Last season saw him break into the starting XI for Inter, becoming a primary feature in their back-line.

A bid of around £57 million could prise the future star away from the Nerazzurri; with his 146 CA, he can slip seamlessly into the defence of most sides. Left-footed and mentally strong, showing stats of 15 determination, 15 consistency, and 14 composure, the Italian has the right attitude to succeed.

Possessing a mind for football, this centre back wonderkid also has the physical ability to match. Bastoni’s 15 strength, 15 marking, and 14 tackling round-out his impressive base stats. The areas to possibly focus on during his development include his ten leadership or his 11 dribbling: improving these could make him more comfortable in possession and a commanding presence on the pitch.

Jules Koundé (148 CA / 168 PA)

Team: Sevilla FC
Age: 21
Best Positions: DC (20)
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 148 CA / 168 PA
Value: £20 million
Wage: £73,223 per week
Best Attributes: 16 Determination, 16 Balance, 16 Heading

Jules Koundé started his footballing journey with Bordeaux, becoming a first-team player by the 2018/19 season. His performances during the 37 games tha he played that year caught the eye of Sevilla. Subsequently, the Spaniards signed him for £22.5 million in July 2019.

Koundé’s gone on to make 49 appearances for Sevilla to date. Just before marking a half-century of appearances, he also picked up three goals and one assist, becoming an important part of their defence in Spain’s top-flight.

Seeming to be a trend with the top-five wonderkids in centre defence, Koundé possesses great mental attributes in FM 21. His 16 determination, 15 concentration, and 15 anticipation are all key attributes in a central defender.

It’s easy to see how he became an integral part of Sevilla’s team when you look at his defensive ratings of 15 tackling, 15 marking, and 16 heading. Koundé has an excellent base to develop from, but the club will demand close to his £73 million release clause.

All the best wonderkid centre backs (CB) in FM 21

Here, you’ll find all of the best young central defenders in Football Manager 2021, sorted by their potential ability.

NameAgeTeamCAPA (Range)Wages (p/w)
Matthijs de Ligt20Zebre (Juventus)163185£213,696
Jean-Clair Todibo20FC Barcelona (on-loan to Benfica)134173£21,978
Dayot Upamecano21RB Leipzig139172£42,177
Alessandro Bastoni21Inter Milan146169£48,766
Jules Koundé21Sevilla148168£73,223
Anel Ahmedhodzic21Malmö128165£1,745
Wesley Fofana19Leicester City138165£55,000
Eric García19Manchester City135165£12,000
Ibañez21AS Roma138165£8,894
Marash Kumbulla20AS Roma136163£31,500
Takehiro Tomiyasu21Bologna133162£16,026
Nehuén Pérez20Atlético Madrid (on-loan to Granada)132160£15,250
Zinho Vanheusden21Standard Liège126160£23,759
Ronald Araújo21FC Barcelona135158£3,924
Ethan Ampadu19Chelsea (on-loan to Sheffield United)128157£7,500
Ibrahima Konaté21RB Leipzig136157£35,147
Edmond Tapsoba21Bayer 04 Leverkusen135157£34,725
Dan-Axel Zagadou21Borussia Dortmund139157£35,027
Thomas Basila21FC Nantes120156£6,000
Sébastiaan Bornauw21FC Köln131155£13,707
Ozan Kabak20FC Schalke 04127155£35,147
Mohammed Salisu21Southampton135155£40,000
Panagiotis Retsos21Bayer 04 Leverkusen (on-loan to Saint-Étienne)128154£36,803
Malang Sarr21Chelsea (on-loan to Porto)131154£35,000
Lloyd Kelly21Bournemouth128153£21,000
Diogo Queirós21Famalicão125152£1,827
Stephan Ambrosius21Hamburger SV120150£3,066
Bruno Fuchs21CSKA Moscow119150£1,593
Carlos Cuesta21KRC Genk120150£6,853
Diogo Leite21FC Porto126150£4,132
Modibo Sagnan21Real Sociedad114150£3,900
Josko Gvardiol18RB Leipzig (on-loan to Dinamo Zagreb)119-9 (150-180)£13,750
Tanguy Nianzou18Bayern Munich119-9 (150-180)£33,626

Whether it’s a ball-playing defender or a no-nonsense central defender, you now know all the top wonderkids in central defence to sign in Football Manager 21.


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Dan Plummer

Dan has had a passion for gaming since an early age; when he's not gaming, you'll find him out with his dog.