FIFA 21: Best centre-backs to sign on Career Mode for every budget

By Harry Edwards

Published: 16:35, 20 July 2021 | Updated: 17:00, 12 August 2021

It won’t be too long before FIFA 22 is upon us, with EA Sports recently releasing a teaser trailer. But that doesn’t mean FIFA 21 is done.

There is still time for one last FIFA 21 Career Mode push, one final quest for glory before the game is inevitably pushed aside.

When it comes to Career Mode, most players might look to build their attack first and worry about the rest of the squad later. It’s a system that makes sense with virtual title races often won and lost on how big strikers perform in tight games.

Others may look to fill the wings with pace, getting the better of their opponents by steering clear of challenges and playing on the counter-attack.

But what of the defence and, in particular, the centre-backs?

Let’s take a look at the real world for a second and Liverpool’s signing of Virgil van Dijk in 2017, the final piece of Jurgen Klopp’s puzzle. Had the Dutchman not joined, who knows if Liverpool would have won the Champions League or Premier League (just look at their downturn in form following his injury!).

It’s the same on FIFA 21. If you do not have a solid centre-back, your defence will leak potentially costly goals. But who is the right centre-back for you and your budget?

We’ve taken a look at some of the best centre-back options available, to buy in your first window, across an array of transfer fees to make your job just a bit easier.

Values and presence of release clauses may vary per save, while availability may vary depending on strictness of transfers. All prices accurate at the time of update on 20/07/2021.

FIFA 21 best centre-backs to sign on Career Mode – Under £1m

Bright Akwo Arrey-Mbi (Bayern II)

FIFA 21 Career Mode CBs: Sign Bright Akwo Arrey-Mbi wherever you are.

Sign Bright Akwo Arrey-Mbi wherever you are.

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 62
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 85
Value: £1.1m
Wage demands: £650

No matter who you’re managing, from Harrogate Town to Liverpool, sign Bright Akwo Arrey-Mbi.

The German centre-back plies his trade in the 3. Bundesliga with Bayern Munich’s second team and has a good overall of 61 for that level. There’s nothing overly special about Arrey-Mbi at the start of Career Mode, unless you are starting from the bottom, but this signing is all about his potential. If developed correctly, Arrey-Mbi has the potential to grow to 85 overall. For reference, that’s just one lower than Raphael Varane’s starting overall.

And he can be yours for just under £1m (with a sell on clause) and £650 per week wages.

FIFA 21 best centre-backs to sign on Career Mode for £1m-£10m

Lorenzo Pirola (AC Monza)

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 64
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 82
Value: £1.3m
Wage demands: £4.9k

Moving ever so slightly up in terms of funds, Lorenzo Pirola is a good centre-back for those happy to wait patiently.

The 18-year-old has an initial overall of 63 which will put some players off, particularly as you move into the millions for his transfer fee. But his defensive attributes aren’t all bad, with 67 Stand Tackle and 66 Slide Tackle, though his Defensive Awareness could do with some improvements. Those improvements will come too, with Pirola boasting a potential overall of 84.

And AC Monza will accept just over his value at £1.35m. However, without a release clause his agent can get a bit demanding with the wages.

Leonidas Stergiou (St. Gallen)

FIFA 21 Career Mode CBs: Leonidas Stergiou is pretty defender from early.

Leonidas Stergiou is pretty defender from early.

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 67
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 86
Value: £2.2m
Wage demands: £4.9k

To Switzerland now there’s a good young centre-back in the form of Leonidas Stergiou.

The teenager is pretty solid in terms of defending early on with his initial overall of 67, boasting good jumping, strength and tackling attributes. These will all grow as Stergiou does, with the potential to reach 86 overall.

Despite his promise, St. Gallen do allow Gvardiol to leave for around £2.7m, slightly more than his value.

Josko Gvardiol (Dinamo Zagreb)

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 73
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 87
Value: £6m
Wage demands: £12.5k

Moving over to Croatia, there’s another young centre-back worth looking at, and that’s Josko Gvardiol.

The teenager is pretty solid across the board early on with his initial overall of 73, boasting good strength, speed and passing attributes. And they will all only get better as Gvardiol moves closer to his potential overall of 87.

Zagreb want around £6.1m for Gvardiol, which is a steal, though his wage demands are slightly higher.

Perr Schuurs (Ajax)

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 74
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 83
Value: £8m
Wage demands: £30.5k

As you move up the rankings, it’s a lot harder to get cheap centre-backs, particularly on good wages, which sums up how important the position is. But Perr Schuurs could be your man.

The Ajax centre-back aged 20, and has an initial overall of 75. His Defending is 75 but where Schuurs differs is in his passing, being more than capable at the start with 72. However, his overall does only rise to 83, still a good option but that could sway some decisions.

His value is £8m, but Schuurs can be bought for a bit more, at £9m but watch those wages.

FIFA 21 best centre-backs to sign on Career Mode for £10m and above

Ben White (Brighton & Hove Albion)

FIFA 21 Career Mode CBs: Ben White can be a solid pick for your back line.

Ben White can be a solid pick for your back line.

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 76
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 87
Value: £14m
Wage demands: £59k

Arsenal appear set to sign Ben White in the real world but you can still make him yours on FIFA 21.

The Brighton man is one of the oldest on the list so far, starting Career Mode aged 22, but with his age comes experience and his already decent overall of 76. This is thanks, in part, to his 77 Defending, which includes 75 Stand Tackle and 77 Slide Tackle. Also boasting strength in his arsenal, White has the potential to rise to 87 and can be a solid pick for your back line.

Available for around £17.5m, the one downside to White is his wage demands, limiting a number of clubs.

Wesley Fofana (Leicester City)

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 78
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 86
Value: £19m
Wage demands: £38k

Wesley Fofana is a highly rated young centre-back both in the real world and on FIFA 21.

The Frenchman, who turns 20 in the first season of Career Mode, has an already decent overall of 78 with strong defensive and physical attributes including 83 interceptions and 80 standing tackle. He could be faster and the stamina needs a bit of work, but this can be fine tuned over his career. The main selling point here is Fofana’s potential overall of 86.

Leicester will be happy to allow Fofana to leave for just over £22m. But you might be put off by those high wage demands.

Dayot Upamecano (RB Leipzig)

FIFA 21 Career Mode CBs: The cherry on top of Dayot Upamecano is his 90 potential.

The cherry on top of Dayot Upamecano is his 90 potential.

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 81
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 90
Value: £48.5m
Wage demands: £73k

He is officially a Bayern Munich player but, for now, Dayot Upamecano remains at RB Leipzig on FIFA 21.

The Frenchman is still only 21 at the start of the game but already has an overall rating of 80, good enough to fit into most teams without completely harming the back line. He’s okay on the ball, with 77 Short Pass and 73 Long Pass, but Upamecano’s all about the tackling (84 in Stand Tackle will make him tough to beat). And to wrap it all up in a nice bow, Upamecano has a potential overall rating of 90.

It’s because of this that RB Leipzig want more than his value, roughly £75m to be less vague, but it’s worth it.

Matthijs de Ligt (Juventus)

FIFA 21 Career Mode CBs: If you've got the funds, Matthijs de Ligt is a must.

If you’ve got the funds, Matthijs de Ligt is a must.

Initial FIFA 21 overall: 85
Potential FIFA 21 overall: 92
Value: £89m
Wage demands: £110k

Now this will only be for the select few, those who have money to burn both in transfer funds and wages, but Matthijs de Ligt will be a must for those.

The Dutchman has a starting overall of 85 and is already one of the best centre-backs in the game with 80+ in all of his defensive and physical attributes, with the exception of his stamina. De Ligt is able to pass the ball, too, for those who like to play the ball around the back. But the biggest reason to sign De Ligt, and exactly why he costs so much, is his potential overall of 92.

Becoming the best centre-back in the game doesn’t come cheap, as we’ve said, and Juventus want around £120m for him on top of his big wages.