So here we are, FIFA 23 is out and players are flocking to the final edition of the game as we know it.
Next year the FIFA series will be no more, replaced by EA Sports FC, and we’re all excited about what’s to come but for now let’s enjoy FIFA 23. For many, Ultimate Team is the place to be and where players will be spending most of their time, but Career Mode remains an elite mode for those who want a long-term challenge not affected by metas or other players’ financial abilities (not to mention needing a good internet connection).
Sometimes there is nothing better than pushing a team to glory, whether that’s a new club or one created, with your own manager or an already-established name thanks to the new addition. But, whether you’re starting at Real Madrid or Fake Madrid, as Graham Potter or Harry Potter, who should you be signing?
Attack is very important on FIFA but Career Mode title races, as in real life, can be won and lost on the defence. What’s the point on scoring boatloads of goals if you cannot keep them out at the back? The biggest example of that in recent years is how Virgil van Dijk’s arrival at Liverpool transformed them into Premier League and European champions – and how shaky they look at the moment with the Dutchman not at his best.
So who is the best centre-back for you and your budget? We’ve taken a look at some of the top 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 publishing.
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FIFA 23 best centre-backs to sign on Career Mode – Under £5m
Nnamdi Collins (Borussia Dortmund)
Initial FIFA 23 overall: 61
Potential FIFA 23 overall: 82
If you’re managing a big club you’ll want to scroll down a bit but we know some players like to bring a smaller team up through the ranks, and that’s where a centre-back like Nnamdi Collins comes in.
Rated 61 at the start of the game, Collins is a 6’3″ teenager with naturally good jumping and strength to go with his decent defensive stats across the board. But the real selling point at the early stage of Collins’ game, especially as a centre-back, is that Pace of 85 which will keep him up with a lot of the top attackers especially at the lower levels as he improves. Collins then has the potential to grow to 82 rated overall, a nice guide to get you up the system. He’s not end game, but he’ll get you there.
The German is valued at £850k but if you strike early in the window you could get him for around £700k as his contract expires at the end of the first campaign. Grab him before he signs a new deal at Borussia Dortmund.
Micky van de Ven (Wolfsburg)
Initial FIFA 23 overall: 69
Potential FIFA 23 overall: 84
Another centre-back for those not looking to break the bank, but with a bit more at their disposal, is Wolfsburg’s Micky van de Ven.
The Dutchman has been at Wolfsburg since 2021 but hasn’t made too many appearances for the first-team in real life, leading to his starting overall of 69. But that 69 does include 81 strength, 71 heading accuracy and 72 sliding tackle, and he is 6’4″ so could be an absolute monster as he grows. Like Collins there is pace in Van de Ven, though his 80 Pace is quite skewed with 70 acceleration but 88 sprint speed. Van de Wen also has the potential to rise to 84 overall and wouldn’t look out of place among the bigger teams.
Van de Wen is valued at £2.8m but Wolfsburg will accept slightly lower than that at around £2.5m, a good price for the centre-back.
FIFA 23 best centre-backs to sign on Career Mode – £5m – £15m
Tanguy Nianzou (Sevilla)
Initial FIFA 23 overall: 73
Potential FIFA 23 overall: 86
Tanguy Nianzou said goodbye to Bayern Munich in the summer and his recent move to Sevilla would have rendered him unavailable in the first transfer window in FIFAs past but that all changed last year and the Frenchman can be a target.
Still only 20, Nianzou is rated 73 overall at the start of FIFA 23 and has good defensive and physical stats including 75 standing tackle, 79 strength and 78 heading accuracy. One downside is that Nianzou is a little slow and won’t be moving too fast with his 6’3″ frame, but as you improve his defensive stats that won’t be as much of a problem, especially as he gets closer to his potential of 86.
Despite being a new signing Nianzou is only valued at £6m and Sevilla will accept around £8m, though you can get him for slightly lower if you’re happy to include add-ons into the deal.
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Castello Lukeba (Lyon)
Initial FIFA 23 overall: 76
Potential FIFA 23 overall: 86
Your centre-back needs may depend on what kind of football you plan on playing. Are you looking for powerhouses, or do you begin your attacks from the back? If it’s the latter, Castello Lukeba could be your man.
The Frenchman starts FIFA 23 with an overall of 76 and he isn’t the tallest of centre-backs at 6’0″ but as Lisandro Martinez is showing at Manchester United, height isn’t everything. Lukeba still has good defensive stats including 79 standing tackle and 76 interceptions and his strong in the air with 75 jumping and 73 heading accuracy. The Frenchman is also good with the pass including 76 short passing and can grow to 86 overall.
Despite the promise and higher overall rating, Lyon are still happy to let Lukeba leave for around £14.5m, just a tad more than his value.
FIFA 23 best centre-backs to sign on Career Mode – £15m and above
Pierre Kalulu (AC Milan)
Initial FIFA 23 overall: 78
Potential FIFA 23 overall: 85
AC Milan are full of centre-back options for you to feast your eyes on but the most achievable one at the early stages of Career Mode, without blowing lots of money, is Pierre Kalulu.
The Frenchman is a decent 78-rated overall at the start of FIFA 23 and joins Lukeba in being 6’0″ overall, though he doesn’t have the same passing stats. What Kalulu does have though are very impressive defensive and physical stats, with 82 standing tackle making him tough to beat on the ground – and 76 jumping a good presence in the air. Kalulu can also keep up with the faster players at 80 Pace, which should grow as he edges closer to his potential overall of 85.
While Kalulu’s potential is slightly lower than some of the players below him on this list, he’s more of a ready-made option, which is why AC Milan want at least his value of £23m.
Nico Schlotterbeck (Borussia Dortmund)
Initial FIFA 23 overall: 82
Potential FIFA 23 overall: 88
Of course, there are better centre-backs in the game with Ruben Dias, Alessandro Bastoni, Fikayo Tomori and Marquinhos all entering the 90s for potential (from ratings in the 80s), while the likes of Ronald Araujo, Josko Gvardiol, Pau Torres, Jules Kounde and Eder Militao will all reach 89. But they will cost you absolute fortunes, and are probably already on your list anyway. Here we’ve gone for a slightly more under-the-radar option that will still be great.
Nico Schlotterbeck is 82 rated at the start of FIFA 23 and is still young at 22, meaning you’ve got at least 10 years with him at his best. Standing at 6’3″, the German centre-back already has 84 Defending with all five relevant attributes at 80+ including 87 standing tackle, and he’s a good passer too. Schlotterbeck isn’t exactly slow either with 76 Pace meaning he’ll be tough to beat both on the floor and in the air.
Valued at £38m, Dortmund know what they’ve got in Schlotterbeck so won’t let him go unless you fork out around £46m.