FIFA 18 Career Mode: Best young defensive midfielders (CDM) to sign

A position that has grown in importance this century. Claude Makelele, Patrick Vieira, Andrea Pirlo, Xabi Alonso and N’Golo Kante have all played in defensive midfield but in very different forms. Do you want someone to protect your defence, do you want someone who can hit passes from range, or do you want someone who can shoot from range? There are plenty of options, but to save cash you are better off going for a player who is yet to hit their peak.

READ: FIFA 19: Best young defensive midfielders (CDM) to sign

How to choose the best young players on FIFA 18 Career Mode

We are looking at the best defensive midfielders (CDM) aged 24 and under on FIFA 18’s Career Mode. These are players with a minimum overall rating of 75 but with the potential to hit at least 80. Players that can come into your side now, but will go on to be some of the best in the world.

It is possible for players to outgrow their potentials, but they need to be playing consistently and be at the top of their game. High-potential players never come cheap however, but if you nurture them up to be world class, they will be worth it. We have compiled our top 10 by looking at player stats, potential and age.

For a full list of our best young defensive midfielders on Career Mode, please look at the bottom of this page.

Fabinho (OVR 83 – POT 88)

Age: 23

Positions: CDM

Club: AS Monaco

Country: Brazil

Work rate: Medium/Medium

Best stats: 91 penalties, 89 stamina, 88 standing tackle

Cost: £26 million (release clause)

Wage: £33,000

Kylian Mbappe (OVR 83), Thomas Lemar (OVR 83) and Radamel Falcao (OVR 84) may have taken the acclaim for Monaco last season as they marched to the Ligue 1 title, but right back turned midfielder Fabinho was their most consistent performer. The 23-year-old’s move to defensive midfield highlights how important he is to the club, and the Brazilian is no slouch when it comes to goals, scoring 12 last season.

His work from the penalty spot helped bump up that return, as shown by his 91-rated penalties on FIFA 18. 89-rated stamina and an 88 standing tackle means he will be hard to get past in midfield, and at a cost of £26 million he is a very tempting buy. His £33,000 weekly wages are very affordable also, and you really should be jumping to get hold of the 83-rated defensive midfielder especially with his 88 potential.

Tiemoue Bakayoko (OVR 82 – POT 88)

Age: 22

Positions: CDM, CM

Club: Chelsea

Country: France

Work rate: Medium/Medium

Best stats: 86 stamina, 85 aggression, 84 standing tackle

Cost: £46.9 million (release clause)

Wage: £92,000

Tiemoue Bakayoko partnered Fabinho in Monaco’s midfield last season, but the 22-year-old powerhouse made the move to Chelsea in the summer. The six-foot-two defensive or central midfielder partners countryman N’Golo Kante (OVR 87) perfectly in midfield with Kante’s energy backed up by Bakayoko’s steel. A successful season or two in London will put the Frenchman up there with the world’s best.

His 82 overall and 88 potential should get Chelsea fans excited and makes him a good option to rotate with the more attack-minded Cesc Fabregas (OVR 86). A £46.9 million release clause is a hefty fee for a defensive midfielder, but you will have to wait until at least January to approach Bakayoko after his recent move to Chelsea. His £92,000 a week wages don’t make things any easier, but can you be tempted by his 86 stamina, 85 aggression and 84 standing tackle?

Julian Weigl (OVR 81 – POT 87)

Age: 21

Positions: CDM, CM

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Country: Germany

Work rate: Medium/Medium

Best stats: 89 short passing, 86 interceptions, 84 reactions

Cost: £35.1 million (release clause)

Wage: £41,000

Borussia Dortmund always seems to have young talent coming through, with Julian Weigl their latest prospect in midfield. At the age of 21, the defensive or central midfielder Weigl has already been a regular for BVB for two seasons, and has forced himself into Joachim Louw’s Germany squad. With the youngster finding his consistency, he now must decide whether to push himself and join one of Europe’s elite clubs, or try and get Dortmund back into that bracket.

An 81 overall rating and an 87 potential makes Weigl a steady grower on Career Mode, with his price of £35.1 million worth the money in the long run. His 89 rated short passing, 86 interceptions and 84 reactions enable him to break-up the opposition’s midfield, and because of his potential he deserves his £41,000 a week wages.

Leander Dendoncker (OVR 79 – POT 86)

Age: 22

Positions: CDM, CM, CB

Club: Anderlecht

Country: Belgium

Work rate: High/High

Best stats: 93 stamina, 86 shot power, 82 strength

Cost: £21.1 million (release clause)

Wage: £22,000

With Youri Tielemans (OVR 80) heading to Monaco in the summer, the onus at Anderlecht has fallen heavily on Leander Dendoncker. The defensive or central midfielder and centre back is now the star attraction in the Belgian Pro League, but it's inevitable the 22-year-old will move on as well. Already capped by Belgium, he could be the perfect man to balance their side with so much attacking quality for coach Roberto Martinez to play with.

His high all-round work rate and 93 stamina gives you an advantage over opposition midfielders, and his 86 shot power and 82 strength indicates that Belgium could have another Radja Nainggolan (OVR 86) on their hands. £21.1 million is a great price for Dendoncker, as are his £22,000 a week wages. A real must-buy on Career Mode.

Lucas Tousart (OVR 78 – POT 86)

Age: 20

Positions: CDM, CM

Club: Olympique Lyonnais

Country: France

Work rate: Medium/High

Best stats: 86 aggression, 84 strength, 83 stamina

Cost: £24.9 million (release clause)

Wage: £38,000

Lyon’s Lucas Tousart announced himself last season, racking up 33 appearances for the club as they finished fourth in Ligue 1. With star men Alexandre Lacazette (OVR 85) and Corentin Tolisso (OVR 82) leaving in the summer, the Lyon squad must pull together if they are to make something of this season.

Don’t be fooled by 20-year-old Tousart’s 78 rating, with the defensive or central midfielder able to reach 86 on FIFA 18. His 86 aggression, 84 strength and 83 stamina mean he will be a real handful for opponents in midfield, with his high defensive work rate offering the back four plenty of protection. £24.9 million and £38,000 a week wages is just about a reasonable, but you may choose to wait for his overall to hit the 80 mark before making the signing.

Abdoulaye Doucoure (OVR 78 – POT 84)

Age: 24

Positions: CDM, CAM, CM

Club: Watford

Country: France

Work rate: Medium/Medium

Best stats: 83 strength, 82 short passing, 81 stamina

Cost: £22.2 million (release clause)

Wage: £40,000

Establishing himself in the Premier League this season is Watford’s Abdoulaye Doucoure. The 24-year-old was a middle-of-the-road player last season, but three goals in seven matches for the Hornets so far this campaign has risen his status and the club to eighth in the Premier League table.

Doucoure can operate as a defensive, attacking or central midfielder, and with 83 strength, 82 short passing and 81 stamina he can be the enforcer in your side. £22.2 million and £40,000 a week wages looks to be a respectable price for a man with a starting overall of 78, but the potential to hit 84. There are worse deals out there to be made.

Amadou Diawara (OVR 77 – POT 87)

Age: 19

Positions: CDM, CM

Club: Napoli

Country: Guinea

Work rate: Medium/High

Best stats: 84 stamina, 82 aggression, 82 short passing

Cost: £20.1 million (release clause)

Wage: £26,000

At just 19, Amadou Diawara is a hot midfield prospect, with the Guinea man already a regular in partnering Marek Hamsik (OVR 86) in Napoli’s midfield. Whilst at Bologna, the defensive or central midfielder chalked up 34 Serie A appearances during the 15/16 season, aged just 17. He has taken his credentials to Napoli and featured 28 times for the Stadio San Paolo club last year.

With a high defensive work rate, Diawara can be the midfield blanket for your side with his 84 stamina, 82 aggression and 82 short passing. £20.1 million and weekly wages of £26,000 is a fantastic price for someone with an 87 potential, all you need to do is train him up to improve his 77 starting overall.

Ruben Neves (OVR 77 – POT 86)

Age: 20

Positions: CDM, CM

Club: Wolverhampton Wanderers

Country: Portugal

Work rate: Medium/Medium

Best stats: 82 short passing, 80 long passing, 78 shot power

Cost: £22.2 million (release clause)

Wage: £34,000

It’s rare to see such a talented player in The Championship, but Wolves’ Ruben Neves is already cut for the Premier League. The 20-year-old defensive or central midfielder is already a Portuguese international and was the youngest player to both captain and achieve 50 appearances for Porto in the Champions League. His £15.8 million move to Molineux was baffling, but he's been worth the league-record fee Wolves paid to secure his services as they now lie second in the table.

You'll have to wait until at least January to snap up Neves, but he'll be worth the £22.2 million release clause and £34,000 a week wages. 82 short passing, 80 long passing and 78 shot power doesn’t jump out, but once he improves he'll become a real handful. His 77 rating and 86 potential makes him one to keep an eye on this season.

Marcos Llorente (OVR 77 – POT 86)

Age: 22

Positions: CDM, CM

Club: Real Madrid

Country: Spain

Work rate: Medium/Medium

Best stats: 84 short passing, 81 long passing, 80 interceptions

Cost: £23.8 million (release clause)

Wage: £92,000

It seems this could be the season for youngsters to breakthrough at Real Madrid, with Marco Asensio (OVR 84) and Dani Ceballos (OVR 78) already impressing. Defensive or central midfielder Marcos Llorente has been given his chance following a successful loan spell at Alaves last season. The 22-year-old made 32 appearances as the Basque club finished ninth in their first La Liga season in 10 years.

Llorente’s 84 short passing, 81 long passing and 80 interceptions make impressive reading, and imagine those stats once he reaches his 86 potential. Don’t be deceived by his 77 overall rating, with the Spaniard 100% worth his £23.8 million transfer fee. You will be alarmed by his £92,000 a week wages, but if you offer him an important squad role, you may be able to get this down to a more reasonable £60,000 a week.

Onyinye Ndidi (OVR 77 – POT 86)

Age: 20

Positions: CDM, CM

Club: Leicester City

Country: Nigeria

Work rate: Medium/High

Best stats: 88 stamina, 83 standing tackle, 80 interceptions

Cost: £22.2 million (release clause)

Wage: £42,000

When N’Golo Kante left Leicester for Chelsea, there was utter panic over who was going to replace him. They may have had to wait six months, but defensive or central midfielder Onyinye 'Wilfred' Ndidi came to the rescue. The 20-year-old gives a great balance to the team, doing his defensive duty but also popping up with some superb goals.

The Nigerian international has a 77 overall rating on FIFA 18 but with the potential to hit 86. With a high defensive work rate you can trust him to the protect the back four, especially with his 88 stamina, 83 standing tackle and 80 interceptions. £22.2 million is a good price for the Leicester man with £42,000 a fair wage.

Other top young defensive midfielders

Pos .
Roman Zobnin
Gonzalo Escalante
Thomas Partey
Atletico Madrid
Mohamed Elneny
Geoffrey Kondogbia
Johannes Geis
Thiago Maia
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*Denotes players on loan

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Who are you going to sign on Career Mode? Let us know in the comments section below.

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