We all love splashing big money on flashy new a star striker or a game-changing midfielder, but it’s no good buying players to score goals if you can’t stop them going it at the other end. Although building your defensive unit isn’t as exciting a prospect when the transfer window rolls around, it’s a must if you want to win trophies come the end of the year.
Benfica’s Semedo is in high demand in the real world of football right now, and the battle for his signature will be equally competitive in Career Mode, so you might have to pay slightly over his €11.8 million asking price to capture him. Either way, he’s well worth the cash – his 73-rated standing and sliding tackle makes him a decent enough defender, but it’s his attacking instincts that make him so desirable. With 74 ball control and 74 crossing backed up by his 85 agility, 86 acceleration and 91 sprint speed, Semedo is a serious threat up and down the right flank, and even better, he’ll grow up to 85 overall in a few years.
Elvedi is a superb investment for anyone looking for a young centre back on the brink of becoming a star. At just 19 years old, he has plenty of room for improvement, and although he’s not quite ready to hold down a starting spot in your first XI, he soon will be, as he grows to 84 overall in the next few years. His stats are nicely rounded, with all his key defensive stats as well as his strength, jumping and stamina all in the mid 70s, and you can bag him from Borussia Monchengladbach for just €4 million.
Jeremiah St. Juste
St. Juste was a decent potential signing in last year’s game too, and he’s still worth a punt as long as you know what you’re getting. At just 19 he’s far from the finished article, and if you take a quick look at his stats you might wonder what all the fuss is about. His 75 standing and 73 sliding tackle ratings are fine, but far from world class and he’s not a particularly good passer, nor is he particularly strong. But what he lacks in these technical abilities, he makes up for with his outstanding physical stats. St. Juste is a top quality athlete, boasting a 78 acceleration and 81 sprint speed combo, as well as 81 jumping, 72 stamina and 73 agility. Those will hold you in good stead for years to come, and eventually the rest of his stats will grow as he reaches his 82 potential overall.
Since famously shutting down Mesut Ozil in his first team league debut last season, Oxford has been quietly removed from the limelight somewhat. He’s still only 17, and having racked up a number of appearances for England’s youth sides, he’s well on his way to becoming a star. He’s not quite there yet – FIFA has him rated at just 67 overall – but he grows incredibly quickly with the right training and some successful loan spells, and he’ll be well on his way to his 86 potential overall rating in a few years. Yours for just over €2 million.
Passlack is not a ready-made player by any means, but if you have the time to develop him, you’ll struggle to find a player as good for his minimal price. He is just 18 years old and 67 overall at the beginning of the game, but for just €2.4 million you can secure his services from Borussia Dortmund, and train him up to his full potential of 84. Not only that, his stats are nicely distributed for a full back too – with his passing, crossing and tackling all developing nicely after a few years of training and loan spells.
At €12.4 million, Riedewald falls just outside our usual €11.8 million bargain basement price limit, but he’s just too good to pass up and well worth the extra €600,000. Not only does Riedewald have tackling and marking stats in the mid 70s, his long and short passing is also excellent, and crucially, he has the pace to keep up with attackers, with 76 acceleration and 74 sprint speed. At 76 overall, Riedewald is already first-XI ready, but he’ll grow up to 86 overall in a few years. Now you see why he’s in the list.
Nabiullin’s stats are concentrated in two key areas, which almost makes him the perfect bargain left back. Although his ratings don’t immediately stand out, a closer look reveals some useful numbers – his 74 marking, 74 standing tackle and 75 sliding tackle are very useful indeed, and he boasts some serious pace too with 92 acceleration and 91 sprint speed. That makes Nabiullin a nice little base to build around, and you can work on the rest of his stats as you train him up to his 84 potential overall. Well worth his £5.5 million asking price.
Matthijs de Ligt
Like Reece Oxford, de Ligt is a purchase for the future, but if you’re looking for a bargain based on future potential, they don’t come much better than this man. The young Ajax prodigy is just 16 years old and rated at 63 overall, but that works in our favour – he’s valued at just £825,000 by his club, despite his obvious potential. His strength rating is already 75, and his other key defensive stats are around the mid 60s, which ensures that they’ll be pretty exceptional when he reaches his 83 potential overall. Less than £1 million for an 83 overall-rated centre back?
At £10 million, Gomez is at the very top end of our pricing for bargain centre backs, but you’re getting a ready-made first XI centre back for your money and then some. Like many others in his position he’s not the quickest around the pitch, but he makes up for that in other areas, namely 80 standing tackle, 80 interceptions and 75 slide tackle. His 80 short passing and 77 long passing ratings also stand out as a huge plus point in his favour, and on top of that, he’ll reach 85 overall in a few years, making him a quality investment too.
If you’re after a well-rounded left back at a decent price, Rio Ave’s Soares should be high on your list, provided you’re willing to wait a year or so for him to develop into a first team quality player. With 79 acceleration and 77 sprint speed, as well as 79 crossing, Soares is a potent threat going forward, and although his tackling isn’t quite on the same level, he’s still a capable defender thanks to 70 standing tackle, 67 slide tackling and 68 interceptions. There’s plenty of scope to improve either aspect of his game, as he’ll improve from 71 to 84 overall, evolving into a top class left back.