Football Manager 2018: Best Wonderkid Centre Backs to Sign

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Finding a composed player at the centre of your defence is hard enough as it is, but if you're looking for the next big defensive star, your work is really cut out in Football Manager 2018. You will have to scout extensively, and it may even take you a couple of transfer windows to discover your man. Fear not, as here at RealSport have done the research for you and found the most talented youngsters on the game. 

What is a wonderkid?

These centre backs are all teenagers (aged 19 and below) and all have potential abilities of 150 or above. Some of them may not have even played professional football, but they will become some of the best players in their position later in their careers. 


For a full list of our wonderkid centre backs, please look at the table at the end of this page. 

Where are the star ratings?

To provide a more accurate assessment of these players, we have rated them out of 200 and not their star rating. These current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA) figures are hidden on the game, but reflect your players out-and-out ability. Star ratings only show a player’s quality or potential in relation to your squad. 

Matthijs de Ligt (CA 132 – PA 173)

Age: 17

Positions: D (C), DM


Club: Ajax

Country: Holland

Best attributes: 16 determination, 15 bravery, 15 jumping

Value: £5 million

Wage: £9,000 a week

One of the highest regarded centre backs in the Eredivisie, it’s remarkable that centre back Matthijs de Ligt is just 17 years old. The Ajax man already has two caps for the Dutch national team, showing how much impact he had in his 23 games for his club last season. 

With a strong 132 ability, you will need a bid worth £70 million to snap up De Ligt, but given his age and 173 potential, it’s not a horrendous deal. With 16 determination, 15 bravery and 15 jumping, he is already a fantastic defender, and you should make a saving on wages, with him currently on £9,000 a week with Ajax. 


Dayot Upamecano (CA 128 – PA 167)

Age: 18

Positions: D (C)

Club: RB Leipzig

Country: France

Best attributes: 17 balance, 16 natural fitness, 15 aggression


Value: £5.4 million

Wage: £41,000 a week

Another young regular starter is RB Leipzig’s Dayot Upamecano. The 18-year-old Frenchman made 12 appearances last year after moving from Red Bull Salzburg in January.

The France U19 international has 17 balance, 16 natural fitness and 15 aggression on FM 18, and you are looking at price around £60 million to sign him. With a £41,000 a week wages, he is a hefty acquisition, but do keep tabs on him as his 128 ability gets closer to his 167 potential. 

Nikola Milenkovic (CA 117 – PA 165)

Age: 19


Positions: D (C)

Club: Fiorentina

Country: Serbia

Best attributes: 16 natural fitness, 15 aggression, 15 bravery

Value: £1.4 million

Wage: £8,200 a week

After a noteworthy season for Partizan Belgrade, making 44 appearances, centre back Nikola Milenkovic made the summer switch to Fiorentina. Already a Serbian international, the future looks bright for the 19-year-old, with two league and a cup success already under his belt.


Milenkovic’s 117 current ability is aided by 16 natural fitness, 15 aggression and 15 bravery, with his potential 165. You are looking at a fee of just over £50 million for the talented Milenkovic, but you will save on his £8,200 a week wages. 

Panagiotis Retsos (CA 127 – PA 164)

Age: 18

Positions: D (RLC)

Club: Bayer Leverkusen

Country: Greece


Best attributes: 16 pace, 16 versatility, 16 bravery

Value: £4.5 million

Wage: £34,000 a week

Another international, the 18-year-old Panagiotis Retsos is set for a big future. The centre back showcased his talents for native side Olympiakos last season, and subsequently made a £16 million move to Bayer Leverkusen in the summer. 

The Greek Retsos’s 127 current ability and 164 potential will set you back close to £60 million, with his wages £34,000 a week. 16 pace, 16 versatility and 16 bravery are very reliable stats, so you will be set for the next decade and more with the defender in your squad. 

Riccardo Marchizza (CA 102 – PA 162)


Age: 19

Positions: D (C)

Club: Avellino

Country: Italy

Best attributes: 15 determination, 14 balance, 13 strength

Value: £255,000

Wage: £3,500 a week


Deemed not good enough at Roma, 19-year-old centre back Riccardo Marchizza has a point to prove at Serie B side Avellino. The defender clearly has talent, progressing from Italy U16s to the U20s over the past four years.

Marchizza has a 102 current ability, which is aided by his 15 determination, 14 balance and 13 strength. His 162 potential is superior to the current ability of Manchester City captain Vincent Kompany, but you will need a considerable bid of around £50 million to land the Italian. You should make up some of this fee with his £3,500 a week wages. 

Dan-Axel Zagadou (CA 120 – PA 159)

Age: 18

Positions: D (C)

Club: Borussia Dortmund


Country: France

Best attributes: 18 jumping reach, 17 composure, 15 pace

Value: £3.8 million

Wage: £4,000 a week

An injury crisis at Borussia Dortmund has thrust 18-year-old Dan-Axel Zagadou into the starting line-up, with the young centre back putting in some assured performances. The summer signing from PSG has already featured over 10 times this seasons, so expect big things from the France U19s captain over the next few campaigns.

On this year’s FM, Zagadou offers 18 jumping reach, 17 composure and 15 pace. Those attributes make up his trustworthy 120 CA, with the potential to hit 159. Those scores will cost you around the £70 million mark however, but his current wages are just £4,000 a week. 

Ro-Shaun Williams (CA 96 – PA 159)


Age: 18

Positions: D (C)

Club: Manchester United

Country: England

Best attributes: 17 pace, 16 acceleration, 14 jumping reach

Value: £382,000

Wage: £1,000 a week


Give the amount of depth Manchester United have in defence, it is unlikely that we will see young centre back Ro-Shaun Williams in the Premier League anytime soon. The 18-year-old has two U21 Premier League winners medals to his name, so expect the England U19s international to make the breakthrough in the next two seasons, whether it be at United or elsewhere.

Don’t be put off by Williams’ 96 current ability, with his potential at 159. For around £20 million you can get his 17 pace, 16 acceleration and 14 jumping reach, with his current wages just £1,000 a week. 

Carlos Badal (CA 60 – PA 159)

Age: 18

Positions: D (C)

Club: Valencia


Country: Spain

Best attributes: 13 determination, 13 anticipation, 13 tackling

Value: £20,000

Wage: £323 a week

A former Spanish U16 international, Carlos Badal is one of those hidden gems in Football Manager 2018. The Valencia man has played just once for the U19s.

13 determination, 13 anticipation and 13 tackling are very strong stats for a player of Badal’s status, with the 18-year-olds current ability just 60. But that ability can almost treble to his 159 potential, so you should move fast for the youngster who will only cost around £15 million. His current wages are incredibly just £323 a week. 

Trevoh Chalobah (CA 98 – PA 158)


Age: 17

Positions: D (C)

Club: Chelsea

Country: England

Best attributes: 16 acceleration, 15 jumping reach, 15 pace

Value: £382,000

Wage: £5,500 a week


The younger brother of now Watford midfielder Nathaniel, Trevoh Chalobah wants to be one of the very few academy products who can succeed at Chelsea. The centre back already has pedigree, winning both the UEFA Youth League and the U19 Euros with Chelsea and England, respectively. 

The 17-year-old will cost you close to £25 million, but it will be worth the investment with Chalobah’s 98 CA able to rise to 158. For his £5,500 a week wages, you will get his 16 acceleration, 15 jumping reach and 15 pace. 

Jose Maria Amo (CA 77 – PA 158)

Age: 19

Positions: D (C)

Club: Sevilla C


Country: Spain

Best attributes: 12 anticipation, 12 concentration, 12 jumping reach

Value: £123,000

Wage: £66 a week

Down in the Sevilla C team we find 19-year-old centre back Jose Maria Amo. The Spanish U19 international has flirted with Sevilla B side with two appearances, but you sense he needs to move on if he is to have a successful footballing career.

The defender will cost you around £15 million, which will get you his 77 current ability. A potential of a very impressive 158 makes Amo a superb signing, especially with his wages somehow only £66 a week. 12 anticipation, 12 concentration and 12 jumping reach hint that he is a talented young defender. 

More wonderkid centre backs

Player A Pos Club Country CA/ PA V W
Eric Garcia16D (C)Man CitySpain65/ 158£68k£105
Axel Tuanzebe19D (C)Man UnitedEngland 123/ 157£17m£5k
Alberto Dossena18D (C)PerugiaItaly107/ 157£522k£228
Zinho Vanheusden17D (C)Inter MilanBelgium96/ 157£178k£228
Pelayo Suarez18D (C)S. Gijon BSpain93/ 157£195k£834
Alessandro Bastoni18D (C)AtalantaItaly108/ 154£560k£8k
Hugo Guillamon17D (C)Valencia BSpain75/ 154£46k£397
Reece Oxford18D (C) DM‘GladbachEngland116/ 153£4.5m£20k
Thomas Basila18D (C) DMNantesFrance96/ 153£152k£1.8k
Kristoffer Ajer19D (C) DM M (C)CelticNorway114/ 153£1.6m£10k
Felix Uduokhai19D (C)WolfsburgGermany121/ 152£3m£10.7k
Malang Sarr18D (LC)NiceFrance116/ 151£1.1m£8.1k
Loic Mbe Soh16D (C)PSGFrance86/ 151£98k£882
Pepe Catano18D (C)Villarreal CSpain63/ 151£20k£293
Juan Foyth19D (C)TottenhamArgentina120/ 150£3.8m£18k
Augusto Aguirre17D (C)River PlateArgentina92/ 149£573k£1.6k
David Subias18D (C)R. Zaragoza BSpain84/ 149£19k£349
Benoit Badiashile16D (C)MonacoFrance82/ 149£91k£733
Enrique Clement18D (C)R. Zaragoza BSpain81/ 149£75k£596
Jordan Torunarigha19D (C)Hertha BerlinGermany124/ 148£2.6m£1.3k
Olivier Boscagli19D (LC)NimesFrance108/ 147£666k£5.7k
Ben Sheaf19D (RC) WB (R)ArsenalEngland101/ 148£511k£3k
Lukas Mai17D (C)Bayern MunichGermany90/ 148£114k£55
Albert Alavedra18D (C)Espanyol BAndorra68/ 147£29k£508
Rick van Drongelen18D (LC)HamburgHolland121/ 146£2.1m£10.7k
Boubacar Kamara17D (C) DMMarseilleFrance96/ 145£242k£3.6k
Pedro Alvaro17D (C)Benfica BPortugal86/ 145£1.5k£1.5k
Cameron Carter-Vickers19D (C)Sheffield UtdUSA115/ 144£3.8k£20k
Filip Vasko17D (C)SlovakiaUdinese81/ 144£47k£854
Manu Hernando18D (C)R. Madrid BSpain85/ 144£100k£900
Jean-Kevin Duverne19D (C)LensFrance109/ 143£534k£3.8k
Antonis Aidonis16D (C)HoffenheimGermany77/ 142£51k£55
Tyler Warren18D (RC)Man UnitedEngland85/ 141£256k£600
Joao Queiros19D (C)KolnPortugal107/ 141£322k£4k
Moris Sportelli17D (C)AC MilanItaly77/ 140£72k£228
Bafode Diakite16D (C)ToulouseFrance80/ 140£76k£759

A = Age


V = Value

W = Wage

What wonderkids have you signed? Let us know in the comments section below.

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