FM 18: Best wonderkid central (MC) and defensive midfielders (DM) to sign

Regardless of what formation you play, you will need quality in the middle of the park. We look at the best wonderkids to build your team around on Football Manager 2018.

Alastair Pusinelli by Alastair Pusinelli

Central and defensive midfielders are the heartbeat of the side. They are the players who will start attacks, pick out the forward players, set the tempo of a game and make important challenges in the middle of the park. With so many skills needed to play in central or defensive midfield, there are very few young talents who shine in those positions. If you can find one of these gems early in their careers, they can set you up for the next ten years, so make sure you find the right midfielder for you.

All the following wonderkids are teenagers (aged 19 and below) and have a potential ability of at least 140. 

READ: FM 19 wonderkids: Best midfielders (Attacking, defensive and central) to sign

Central midfielders

If you want a box-to-box man who can do everything in the park, these are the talented youngsters you need to look at. 

For a full list of ALL the wonderkid central and defensive midfielders, visit the table at the bottom of this page.

Renato Sanches (CA 140 – PA 167)

Age: 19

Positions: M (C), DM, AM (C)

Club: Swansea (on loan from Bayern Munich)

Country: Portugal

Best attributes: 18 balance, 15 agility, 15 technique

Value: £10.2 million

Wage: £25,700 a week

Regarded as one of the hottest prospects in the world, it has been a tough 12 months or so for Renato Sanches. The 19-year-old central, defensive or attacking midfielder made a name for himself at Benfica and then starred during Portugal’s Euro 2016 triumph, but he suffered after making the £31 million move to Bayern Munich. A lack of consistent game-time caused Sanches’s level to drop, and he has thus been sent out on loan to Premier League side Swansea this season. 

Renato’s 140 CA can rise to an impressive 167, with his best attributes being his 18 balance, 15 agility and 15 technique. You will have to wait until summer 2018 to get hold of Sanches, where he will set you back close to £40 million and £25,700 a week wages. 

Wendel (CA 137 – PA 168)

Age: 19

Positions: M (C), DM

Club: FLU (Fluminese)

Country: Brazil

Best attributes: 16 stamina 15 technique, 14 first touch

Value: £5 million

Wage: £8,500 a week

A top talent in his native Brazil, the 19-year-old Wendel has chalked up 39 appearances for Fluminense in 2017. It may have been the first season on his professional career, but if he maintains this level, it won’t be long before the big guns in Europe come calling. 

You can grab central or defensive midfielder Wendel for close to £30 million on FM 18, with his current wages £8,500 a week. 16 stamina, 15 technique and 14 first touch contribute to his 135 current ability, which can rise to a 168 potential.

Sander Berge (CA 123 – PA 150-180)

Age: 19

Positions: M (C), DM, AM (C)

Club: Genk

Country: Norway

Best attributes: 14 strength, 14 technique, 14 anticipation

Value: £4.2 million

Wage: £31,000 a week

Already a Norway international, Genk man Sander Berge has been tipped for a big future. The central, defensive or attacking midfielder has impressed over 40 appearances for the Belgian club, and if he continues this steady development, expect the 19-year-old to make the move to one of Europe’s big five leagues in around three seasons or so. 

14 strength, 14 technique and 14 anticipation add towards Berge’s 123 current ability score, which can rise to a potential between 150 and 180. You are looking at a fee of around £30 million for Berge, with wages of £31,000 a week. 

Afonso Sousa (CA 82 – PA 150-180)

Age: 17

Positions: M (C), AM (C)

Club: FCP (Porto)

Country: Portugal

Best attributes: 13 technique, 12 first touch, 12 pace

Value: £2,500

Wage £1,600 a week

A fairly unknown quantity, with Porto’s Afonso Sousa having played just twice for their UEFA Youth League side. The 17-year-old has risen up through the Portugal setup from U15 to U18 level, so look out for his name in years to come.

Sousa’s 82 current ability score consists of 13 technique, 12 first touch and 12 pace, with a potential between 150 and 180. With a value of just £2,500, you may only need £100,000 or less to sign Sousa, and his wages are only £1,600 a week.

Salih Ozcan (CA 124 – PA 149)

Age: 18

Positions: M (C), AM (C), DM

Club: Koln

Country: Germany

Best attributes: 15 movement, 15 balance, 14 technique

Value: £3 million

Wage: £4,000 a week

Koln’s Salih Ozcan made his Bundesliga debut last season, going on to make 13 appearances, and he looks like an accomplished player. The German U20 international now starts more games than not, but with Koln propping up the Bundesliga table, it will be a massive test of the 18-year-old’s character.

You will need around £25 million to secure the central, attacking or defensive midfielder’s services, with his wages currently only £4,000 a week. 15 movement, 15 balance and 14 technique help make up Ozcan’s 124 current ability score, with his potential a respectable 149. 

Defensive midfielders

If you want more protection in midfield, you will want a defensive midfielder. If you play in a formation with ‘DM’ in the title these are the wonderkids for you. 

Douglas Luiz (CA 134 – PA 152)

Age: 19

Positions: DM, M (C)

Club: Girona (on loan from Manchester City)

Country: Brazil

Best attributes: 15 marking, 14 agility, 14 acceleration

Value: £14 million

Wage: £40,000 a week

Manchester City have a plethora of talent at their disposal, but you may not know that they have the talented Douglas Luiz currently away on loan at Girona. The defensive or central midfielder’s performances at former club Vasco da Gama, getting them promoted, earned him a move to City, but his loan spell at Girona has been difficult, making just two starts so far this season. 

Luiz has a 134 current ability score, which can rise to a strong potential of 152. His 15 marking, 14 agility and 14 acceleration can be yours for a price of close to £30 million, with wages of £40,000 a week.

Claudio Gomes (CA 92 – PA 150-180)

Age: 17

Positions: DM

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Country: France

Best attributes: 14 agility, 14 balance, 13 pace

Value: £186,000

Wage: £1,200 a week

Captain of the French U18 side, it may not be long before the 17-year-old Claudio Gomes gets a look in with the PSG first team. With a lack of conventional holding midfielders at the club since the departure of Blaise Matuidi, a couple of injuries to the squad could being Gomes into the fold.

The defensive midfielder has 14 agility, 14 balance and 13 pace to his game, which will cost you as little as £1 million. For his wages of £1,200 a week you can get Gomes’s 92 current ability score with a potential between 150 and 180.

Assane Diousse (CA 128 – PA 149)

Age: 19

Positions: DM, M (C)

Club: Saint-Etienne

Country: Senegal

Best attributes: 15 strength, 15 stamina, 15 balance

Value: £4.6 million

Wage: £9,300 a week

After impressing in Italy with Empoli, defensive or central midfielder Assane Diousse made the switch to French club Saint-Etienne. The 19-year-old is slowly asserting himself in France, making seven starts, and with ASSE once again sat in mid-table, the Senegalese Diousse just needs to concentrate on his own performances.

You are looking at a fee upwards of £25 million for Diousse, with his current wages £9,300 a week. 15 strength, 15 stamina and 15 balance make up his solid 128 CA, with his potential ability at 149.  

Dennis Geiger (CA 124 – PA 148)

Age: 19

Positions: DM, M (C)

Club: Hoffenheim

Country: Germany

Best attributes: 15 technique, 15 agility, 14 passing

Value: £4 million

Wage: £1,300 a week

Hoffenheim are big investors in youth, and defensive or central midfielder Dennis Geiger looks to be one of the next prospects coming through the club. The 19-year-old has chipped in with two goals in ten Bundesliga games this season and has worked his way up to the Germany U21 side.

Geiger as a 124 CA and 148 PA on the game, with his attributes being 15 technique, 15 agility and 14 passing. For those skills you will need close to £35 million and increase his wages of £1,300 a week.  

Dzenis Burnic (CA 117 – PA 143)

Age: 19

Positions: DM, M (C)

Club: Borussia Dortmund

Country: Germany

Best attributes: 15 passing, 15 vision, 15 technique

Value: £2.5 million

Wage: £4,000 a week

Also in Germany we find the 19-year-old Dzenis Burnic. The Borussia Dortmund man made his debut for the club last season, and the defensive or central midfielder has built on that with six appearances this year. 

The German U20 international will cost you around £20 million and a further £4,000 a week in wages. His 15 passing, 15 vision and 15 technique contribute to a 117 current ability score, which can rise to a potential of 143.  

More wonderkid central midfielders

Player
A Pos
Club
Country
CA/
PA
V
W
Dennis Geiger 19 DM
M (C)
Hoffenheim Germany 124/
148
£4m £1k
Vasilije Janjicic 19 M (C)
DM
AM (C)
Hamburg Switz’land 121/
145
£2m £7k
Aymen Barkok 19 M (C)
AM (C)
Frankfurt Germany 123/
144
£3m £4k
Orel Mangala 19 M (C)
AM (C)
Stuttgart Belgium 118/
144
£3m £4k
Laszlo Benes 19 M (C)
AM (C)
BMG Slovakia 120/
140
£3m £4k
Manuel Locatelli 19 M (C)
DM
AC Milan Italy 132/
>140
£8m £25k
Tom Davies 19 M (C)
DM
AM (C)
Everton England 132/
>140
£4m £25k
Timothy Fosu-Mensah 18 M (C)
D (RC)
DM
Man United* Holland 130/
>140
£15m £15k
Carles Alena 19 M (C)
AM (C)
Barcelona B Spain 120/
>140
£1m £4k
Mickael Cuisance 17 M (C)
AM (C)
BMG France 118/
>140
£3m £2k
Gedson Fernandes 18 M (C)
D (R)
AM (R)
SLB B Portugal 116/
>140
£200k £2k
Andrija Balic 19 M (C)
DM
AM (C)
Udinese Croatia 116/
>140
£2m £10k
Mamadou Coulibaly 18 M (C)
DM
Udinese Senegal 112/
>140
£400k £2k
Atakan Akkaynak 18 DM
M (C)
Leverkusen Germany 110/
>140
£400k £2k
Filippo Melegoni 18 M (C)
DM
Atalanta Italy 105/
>140
£500k £1k
Matt O’Riley 16 M (C)
AM (C)
DM
Fulham England 100/
>140
£170k £100
Tiago Dantas 16 M (C) SLB Portugal 90/
>140
£500 £50
Manolo Portanova 17 M (C)
DM
Juventus Italy 88/
>140
£170k £200
Fabrizio Caligara 17 M (C) Juventus Italy 86/
>140
£150k £200
Gaspar Campos-Anso 17 M (C)
AM (C)
S. Gijon B Spain 82/
>140
£90k £400

More wonderkid defensive midfielders

Player
A Pos
Club
Country
CA/
PA
V
W
Weston McKennie 18 DM
M (C)
Schalke USA 124/
>140
£3m £13k
Federico Valverde 19 DM
M (C)
R. Madid B* Uruguay 120/
>140
£1m £4k
Atakan Akkaynak 18 DM
M (C)
Leverkusen Germany 110/
>140
£450k £2k
Florentino Luis 18 DM SLB Portugal 95/
>140
£60k £1k
Manuel Morlanes 18 DM
M (C)
Villarreal B Spain 90/
>140
£200k £50
Martin Calderon 18 DM
M (C)
R. Madrid B Spain 84/
>140
£65k £50
Ben Godfrey 19 DM
M (C)
Norwich England 111/
140
£1m £1k

*Denotes player is on loan

Who have you signed on Football Manager 2018? Let us know in the comments section below. 

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Best Wonderkid Attacking Midfielders

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Alastair Pusinelli

First console: GameBoy Color / Favourite Game: Assassin's Creed 2 / Currently playing: Football Manager 2020

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