5 center backs to buy in the transfer market in Football Manager 2023

Build the defense up for years to come with these great options.

Image via Sega/Sports Interactive

Ah, center backs. The spine of any given team and a vital building block for your Football Manager 2023 squad. A center back and their qualities have the ability to completely change the style that your team plays or is even capable of playing. From stylish, ball-playing CBs to hard-nosed, old-school bruisers, if you want your team to have success in FM23, you’ll want good center backs.

Of course, most players won’t be able to immediately go out and sign Virgil van Dijk. Transfer budgets, salaries, and a number of other factors need to be taken into account. And still, depending on what team you decide to take control of and how long your project plan is with them, some of today’s superstars might not even be worth it to take in Football Manager.

To help you out, we asked for a little help of our own from Scouted Football. They used some real-world scouting to identify players that should be great targets in the newest Football Manager. From young prospects to burgeoning professionals, look for these players to improve your squad without necessarily breaking the bank.

Best center back prospects to purchase in Football Manager 2023

Castello Lukeba

Age: 19

Club: Lyon

As if France needed more talented center backs, up steps Castello Lukeba of Lyon. The 19-year-old France U-21 is relatively small (especially compared with his much-hyped compatriot, William Saliba) but makes up for the inch or two he’s missing in height with decent body strength. He’s got quality on the ball—which he plays with his left foot, boosting his value and desirability—and anticipates attacking play maturely while making composed decisions both in possession and when facing opponents.

Because he’s integrated into Lyon’s first team, he’ll make an expensive purchase and his price will no doubt rise over time.

Josip Sutalo

Age: 22

Club: Dinamo Zagreb

Luka Modric, Eduardo da Silva, Mateo Kovacic—all these stars and more were developed at Croatia’s most famous academy. Next off Dinamo Zagreb’s iconic production line is Josip Sutalo, a 22-year-old center back ready to play in any top-five league off the bat. Given his bow with the Croatian National Team this summer and the target of reported interest from RB Leipzig, Sutalo’s is a star on the rise.

A composed center back with quick feet and the ability to bypass pressure with a pass or dribble, Sutalo has a well-rounded, modern profile and represents a strong investment either as a sellable asset or first-team starter. He shouldn’t cost too much in-game, so move before everyone else does.

Giannis Michailidis

Age: 22

Club: PAOK

Giannis Michailidis is an impressive defender currently aiding PAOK in their pursuit of Greek Super League champions Olympiacos. A first-team stalwart since breaking in last season, Michailidis is very strong in the air, decent on the floor, and energetic and proactive in and out of possession. Like Lukeba, he’s left-footed and is capable of spraying line-breaking passes from that side of the defense.

Michailidis ruptured his ACL in March, so he will probably start the game with the same injury. But if you find yourself in need of an inexpensive ball-playing left-footer, shortlist him straight away.

Alexis Duarte

Age: 22

Club: Club Cerro Porteno

In April of this year, Arsenal reportedly sent scouts to South America to watch a Paraguayan pair of prospects: Julio Enciso, an attacker, and Alexis Duarte, a center back. Enciso quickly signed for Brighton and Hove Albion, but nobody has yet lifted Duarte from the club that developed him.

That’s likely to change in the near future, with teams from Europe’s big leagues circling as Duarte enters into the final year of his contract. Expect some challenge if you look to buy him in-game, but as a defender with enormous potential upside, he’ll be worth the fight.

Johan Bangsbo

Age: 19

Club: IFK Goteborg

One of the most exciting emerging talents in the Allsvenskan, Johan Bangsbo was given a string of starts at the beginning of this season and seized the opportunity with both hands. He’s a large but quick-thinking player who is capable of anticipating an opponent’s movement as well as reacting rapidly as the last line of defense. He’s also left-footed and can circulate possession well in his own half as well as break lines, and will only improve as he develops.

A malleable profile with plenty of room to become the player you need in the long-term, Bangsbo will represent a value-for-money signing for all sorts of teams in FM23.