Goal-scoring may win you some games, but a strong defense will win you titles.
Typically in soccer, the best defenders are older—and that’s certainly the case now in FIFA 21. Defensive backs like Virgil van Dijk and Sergio Ramos are two of the best in the game but are 30 and 35, respecitively.
We’re not trying to dismiss their quality of play because of their age. But if you’re looking for a foundational piece for your defense with a longer shelf life, take a look at some of the best young defenders in FIFA 21.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, 21 – Liverpool FC
With Liverpool’s van Dijk injured for most of the team’s current campaign, Liverpool native Alexander-Arnold has taken a huge step forward for his hometown club. He’s also one of the best defenders in all of FIFA 21, even at his young age.
With an 86-overall rating and 91 potential, his best years are still ahead of him despite how good he already is. While his specific defense ratings aren’t the most superb compared to others at his position, his passing and scoring ability separate him from the pack. His long passing especially is pivotal to any team’s counter-attacking.
Matthijs de Ligt, 21 – Juventus/Piemonte Calcio
Any seasoned FIFA veteran will know that Juventus officially doesn’t appear as Juventus because of its exclusive deal with Pro Evolution Soccer. The players are still there, though, playing under the Piemonte Calcio banner. And Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt is still a young pillar of an outstanding defense.
All of de Ligt’s defensive rating are outstanding, with 80s for Marking, Slide Tackle, and Standing Tackle. His ratings for Strength, Jumping, and Heading are also quite strong, making him an excellent clearer when defending corners. He’s only an 85 overall now, but his potential will see him grow to a 92 over time.
Rúben Dias, 23 – Manchester City
Another young talented defender in the Premier League (for now), Portuguese product Rúben Dias has tremendous defensive ratings. He also has exceptionally high ratings for Aggression and Stamina, meaning he can harass attacking opponents for an entire match.
He sits at an 84 overall right now with a potential rating of 89. While both Alexander-Arnold and de Ligt are valued near 100 million Euros, Dias is valued closer to 60 million, which makes him a great transfer target for teams that don’t have quite as large a purse.
Dayot Upamecano, 22- RB Leipzig
A French center-back for RB Leipzig, Upamecano has perhaps the largest potential upside of any of the names on this list. He’s already arguably the most physically impressive with high Strength, Sprint Speed, and Jumping.
He sits at an 81 overall right now, but his potential can go all the way up to 90. In just a couple of years, his overall rating could be just one or two points shy of what Alexander-Arnold or de Ligt could reach.