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FIFA 23 Best Defenders: Who are the best centre backs, left backs and right backs to sign in Career Mode?

Brick walls and offensive aces

Update: With the World Cup now underway, the cagey metagame of tournament football is sure to make some good defenders look absolutely rock solid. We've also updated our stats and picks to make sure they're up-to-date.

In the arcadey world of FIFA 23, putting an end to the high-scoring action requires the unique talents of the best defenders in world football.

While it might not be as exciting as bearing down on the goal to score in the last minute, last-ditch defending is its own exhilarating reward. So even though a solid defence can’t win you a match on its own, it can definitely stop you from losing.

The best centre backs in FIFA 23 aren’t the lumbering behemoths traditionally associated with the position. They’re as fast, strong and technically proficient as the skillful attackers they’re trying to stop, with more and more emphasis being placed on their ability to start attacks by top managers.

Then there’s the modern full back position, which is morphing more and more into an offensive wing back role where crossing and long passing is just as important as stopping attacks.

This means that the best left backs and right backs in FIFA 23 excel both offensively and defensively, with incredible physical attributes being a necessity.

Legendary Italian striker Gianluca Vialli once said that the right back was always the worst player on the pitch, because if they were good at defending they would be a centre back and if they were good at attacking they would be playing right midfield. Try telling that to the likes of Joao Cancelo, Kyle Walker, or Reece James.

First we’ll go through the absolute top class defenders in FIFA 23, as judged by overall rating, so you know who you will likely be up against in the latter stages of the biggest competitions.

Then we’ll list some slightly lower overall players with huge potential for the future. These are the Career Mode bargains who will be lighting up world football for years to come.

Finally, we will go over some of our favourite players to sign in FIFA 23 Career Mode. We’ll cover players for a variety of budgets, but they’re all awesome.

If you're looking to do a long term Career Mode though, made sure to check out our list of FIFA 23 Wonderkids, as well as our rundowns of the best strikers and wingers in FIFA 23, the best CAMs, CMs and CDMs in FIFA 23 and the best Goalkeepers in FIFA 23.

Fikayo Tomori going up for a header in FIFA 23
Fikayo Tomori is one of the most improved players in FIFA 23, as well as the most rock-solid defenders

Who are the best Defenders to sign in FIFA 23 Career Mode?

CBs

  • Antonio Silva - Benfica - 18 - £4.3m Value/ £2,000 Wage - 72 OVR/ 87 POT

Just incredible value for the price given his starting stats and potential, Antonio Silva is sure to be one of the most popular pick-ups in FIFA 23.

It's hard to imagine that 80 sprint speed, strength and stamina, along with around 75-ish defending and passing only equals 72 overall, but who's complaining when that means he can be bought for cheap.

  • Fikayo Tomori - AC Milan - 24 - £55m Value/ £70,000 Wage - 84 OVR/ 90 POT

With great speed and strength to complement his awesome defending stats, if you’re playing with one of the world’s richest clubs and are in need of a centre back, Fikayo Tomori should be your go-to choice.

But that’s not all, with 90 potential to grow into as well, his 85 pace, 85 strength and 85 Defending should get even more overpowered quite quickly.

  • Josko Gvardiol - RB Leipzig - 20 - £50m Value/ £40,000 Wage - 81 OVR/ 89 POT

Already amazing despite being just 20 years old, Josko Gvardiol has been easily the best defender to sign in Career Mode for the last couple of years. FIFA 23 is no exception, only this time his solid starting overall makes him inaccessible to all but the clubs with the deepest pockets.

Alongside pace, strength and decent defending all in the mid-80s, Gvardiol’s ability to play at left back means he’s also a strong dribbler and passer - making him the perfect ball-playing defender.

  • Noah Mbamba - Club Brugge - 17 - £1.5m Value/ £500 wage - 64 OVR/ 84 POT

Despite getting a pretty brutal potential nerf coming into FIFA 23, Noah Mbamba is still one of the best Road to Glory signings you can make in FIFA 23 Career Mode.

A variety of decent stats make him usable from the start in weaker teams, and you can’t argue with a fee that cheap for such high potential.

  • Jurrien Timber - Ajax - 21 - £40m Value/ £14,000 Wage - 80 OVR/ 88 POT

With Lisandro Martinez’s transfer to Manchester United, short kings at the centre of defence are all the rage (as if Franco Baresi, Carles Puyol and Bobby Moore never existed).

If you want to bring a taste of the technical, athletic, ball-playing Total Football style to your defence, look no further than Ajax’s Jurrien Timber - because who else would he play for, really?

He makes up for his lack of imposing stature with good defensive awareness and tackling, as well as rapid pace, solid strength and mid-80s jumping to win aerial duels.

  • Jeremiah St. Juste - Sporting - 25 - £9m Value/ £12,000 Wage - 76 OVR/ 80 POT

A bit cheaper because he’s a bit older, Jerry St. Juste is one of my favourite centre backs for mid-tier clubs.

The standout stats here are 90 acceleration and 96 sprint speed, which makes it very unlikely he’ll be beaten in a straight race during transition. But he’s not just about pure speed, with around 80 defending and 85 jumping to make up for a lack of strength, he’s got good stats all-round considering his 76 overall.

Not a player to sleep on given his accessibility. And just so you’re aware, you have to put the period after “St.” to make him come up when searching players.

  • Maxence Lacroix - Wolfsburg - 22 - £20m Value/ £30,000 Wage - 77 OVR/ 86 POT

Very similar to St. Juste, but younger with more potential and a much higher price tag.

Disastrously, Lacroix has had his sprint speed reduced in FIFA 23 - RIP. That means he’s not quite as much of a cheat code as last year, but with a starting potential growth of 9 he’ll probably earn all of that back and more with a good season.

  • Oumar Solet - RB Salzburg - 22 - £9m Value/ £17,000 Wage - 74 OVR/ 83 POT

Yet another ridiculous deal for a physical monster. 85 pace and nearly 90 strength make Oumar Solet almost a must-buy for any mid-tier club that can afford him.

And again, a starting potential growth of 9 is more than enough ratings for him to smooth out some of his more raw stats - defensive awareness and positioning need some work in particular.

He’s a decent passer too, so it’s not all brute force.

  • Josip Sutalo - Dinamo Zagreb - 22 - £12m Value/ £1,000 Wage - 75 OVR/ 84 POT

For a more realistic signing for a variety of teams, who’s still a really good pickup, check out the Croatian Josip Sutalo at Dinamo Zagreb.

Pretty much all of his key stats are around or approaching 80, and with tons of potential he has room to grow into a dominant defender in his own right.

  • Giorgio Scalvini - Bergamo Calcio - 18 - £3m Value/ £5,000 Wage - 70 OVR/ 86 POT

If you’re after cheaper signings for a Road to Glory save, Giorgio Scalvini at the team formerly known as Atalanta is an option.

He’s more of a traditional defender than the athletic players I’ve listed so far, favouring positioning and tackling over speed and strength. If that’s your kind of thing, he has enough potential to be a really good addition to your lineup.

  • Leonidas Stergiou - St. Gallen - 20 - £2m Value/ £2,500 Wage - 67 OVR/ 84 POT

Another Road to Glory Career Mode signing, Stergiou is a shorter centre back (about 5ft 9”), but with 88 jumping to compensate.

He’s got decent stats in strength and defending and should be good enough for lower leagues. While his technical stats are quite spartan - a bit like his name, ha ha - he’s got enough potential growth to turn into a good player.

  • Micky van de Ven - Wolfsburg - 21 - £3m Value/ £10,000 Wage - 69 OVR/ 84 POT

One last Road to Glory option, but left-footed this time. Micky van de Ven has really good sprint speed and strength, as well as decent defending for his overall rating.

Pick him up on a cheap fee and reap the rewards as you climb the leagues.

Who are the best left backs and right backs to sign in FIFA 23 Career Mode?

LBs

  • Destiny Udogie - Udinese (Spurs) - 19 - £14.6m Value/ £29,000 Wage - 76 OVR/ 89 POT

A bumper boost of +7 to his starting potential has turned Destiny Udogie from a decent looking player into an almost must-buy when he returns to White Hart Lane from loan.

Solid speed, strength, stamina and crossing make him the ideal wing-back.

  • Fran Garcia - Rayo Vallecano - 22 - £12m Value/ £12,000 Wage - 75 OVR/ 83 POT

A mix of great physical attributes and solid defending make Fran Garcia a versatile pickup for a wide variety of teams, whether it’s in the starting 11 or on the bench.

  • Milos Kerkez - AZ Alkmaar - 18 - £2.5m Value/ £1,000 Wage - 68 OVR/ 85 POT

A huge upgrade has made Milos Kerkez an awesome Career Mode option with blistering pace, decent defending and dribbling and enough stamina to play 90 minutes week-in-and-week-out.

  • Quentin Merlin - Nantes - 20 - £3.5m Value/ £8,000 Wage - 70 OVR/ 84 POT

Quentin Merlin is a wizard on the ball - see what I did there?

With 78 dribbling and 77 crossing he’s a great offensive option, with a huge 14 points of starting potential growth to build his physical capabilities.

  • Liberato Cacace - Empoli - 21 - £5m Value/ £5,000 Wage - 72 OVR/ 82 POT

After a couple of years on loan, Liberato Cacace has moved to Empoli per menantly. He’s kind of the opposite of Merlin, with great physical stats but is more raw technically.

This makes him a great Road to Glory signing in FIFA 23, with a lot of potential to buff out his weaknesses.

RBs

  • Jeremie Frimpong - Leverkusen - 21 - £30m Value/ £35,000 Wage - 80 OVR/ 86 POT

If you’re playing with a top side, definitely check out Jeremie Frimpong, who is an elite attacking option at just 21 years old.

When you’re going forward 95 pace with 85 stamina, dribbling and crossing is tough to argue with, while 75-ish defending should be good enough too.

  • Tiago Djalo - Lille - 22 - £10m Value/ £20,000 Wage - 75 OVR/ 82 POT

His top listed position is centre back, but Tiago Djalo can play at both left back and right back as well.

With good speed and strength he has enough presence to deal with even top wingers, which is really important given all of the overpowered attackers in FIFA 23.

  • Hugo Siquet - Freiburg - 19 - £3m Value/ £5,000 Wage - 70 OVR/ 81 POT

Despite a bit of a potential downgrade, Hugo Siquet’s 80 crossing from last year is still intact, making him one of the best value attacking full backs you can pick up in Career Mode.

  • Juan Escobar - Cruz Azul - 25 - £7m Value/ £40,000 Wage - 75 OVR/ 78 POT

The South American leagues have a lot of really good full backs considering the overall ratings in those leagues. The Paraguayan Juan Escobar has nearly 85 pace, strength, jumping and stamina, as well as 75 dribbling and tackling.

He looks like a great pickup for mid-tier teams.

Best overall defenders in FIFA 23

Best overall defenders in FIFA 23
Player name: Age: Position(s): Team: Overall: Starting Potential:
Virgil van Dijk 30 CB Liverpool 89 89
Ruben Dias 25 CB Man City 88 91
Joao Cancelo 28 RB, LB Man City 88 88
Marquinhos 28 CB PSG 88 90
Trent Alexander-Arnold 23 RB Liverpool 86 89
Andrew Robertson 28 LB Liverpool 87 87
Antonio Rudiger 29 CB Real Madrid 87 88
Kalidou Koulibaly 31 CB Chelsea 87 87
Milan Skriniar 27 CB Inter 86 87
Aymeric Laporte 28 CB, LB Man City 86 87
David Alaba 30 CB, LB Real Madrid 86 86
Thiago Silva 37 CB Chelsea 86 86
Theo Hernandez 24 LB AC Milan 85 90
Matthijs de Ligt 22 CB Bayern 85 89
Marcos Acuna 30 LB Sevilla 85 85
Niklas Sule 26 CB, RB Dortmund 85 87
Jordi Alba 33 LB Barcelona 85 85
Kyle Walker 32 RB Man City 85 85
Alessandro Bastoni 23 CB Inter 84 90
Fikayo Tomori 24 CB AC Milan 84 90
Jules Kounde 23 CB, RB Barcelona 84 89
Eder Militao 24 CB, RB Real Madrid 84 89
Alphonso Davies 21 LB Bayern 84 89
Reece James 22 RB Chelsea 84 88
Achraf Hakimi 23 RB PSG 84 87
Lucas Hernandez 26 CB, LB Bayern 84 86
Dani Carvajal 30 RB Real Madrid 84 84
Stefan Savic 31 CB Atletico Madrid 84 84
Raphael Varane 29 CB Manchester United 84 85
Stefan de Vrij 30 CB Inter 84 84
A TV graphic of the Real Madrid back four in FIFA 23
The Real Madrid back line is home to some of the best defenders in FIFA 23 and world football

Lower overall, high potential defenders in FIFA 23

Lower overall, high potential FIFA 23 Defenders
Player name: Age: Position(s): Team: Starting overall: Starting potential:
Nuno Mendes 20 LB PSG 80 88
Jurrien Timber 21 CB, RB Ajax 80 88
Goncalo Inacio 20 CB Sporting 79 88
William Saliba 21 CB Arsenal 80 87
Antonio Silva 18 CB Benfica 72 87
Jeremie Frimpong 21 RB Leverkusen 80 86
Sven Botman 22 CB Newcastle 80 86
Wesley Fofana 21 CB Chelsea 79 86
Maxence Lacroix 22 CB Wolfsburg 77 86
Castello Lukeba 19 CB Lyon 76 86
Mohamed Simakan 22 CB RB Leipzig 78 86
Marc Guehi 21 CB Crystal Palace 78 86
Rayan Ait Nouri 21 LB Wolves 76 83
Giorgio Scalvini 18 CB Bergamo Calcio 70 85
Piero Hincapie 20 LB, CB Leverkusen 78 85
Pierre Kalulu 22 CB, RB AC Milan 78 85
Sergino Dest 21 RB, LB AC Milan (Barcelona) 77 85
David Carmo 22 CB Porto 77 85
Tino Livramento 19 RB Southampton 75 85
Malo Gusto 19 RB Lyon 75 85
Aaron Hickey 20 RB, LB Brentford 75 82
Luca Netz 19 LB Monchengladbach 73 83
Tanguy Nianzou 20 CB Sevilla 73 85
Alessandro Fontanarosa 19 CB, LB Inter 67 84
Micky van de Ven 21 CB, LB Wolfsburg 71 85
Quentin Merlin 20 LB Nantes 70 84
Adrien Truffert 20 LB Stade Rennais 76 84
Morato 21 CB Benfica 74 84
Eric Martel 20 CB FC Koln 67 84
Noah Mbamba 17 CB Club Brugge 64 84
About the Author
James Billcliffe avatar

James Billcliffe

Guides Editor

James suffers so you don't have to. Whether it's raging so hard at Sekiro that he bit his own hand, or confronting a 20-year fear of zombies to complete Resident Evil 2 eight times, he creates guides and reviews for the biggest blockbuster games. He has a Masters Degree in Journalism and a BA in Linguistics that he never got a chance to flex until Wordle came along.

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