Football Manager 2020 Wonderkids: All the best Defenders (DR, DC, DL) to buy – De Ligt, James & more

These players will be the rocks at the back over the next decade. Will you bring them to your club?

George Howson by George Howson

Football Manager 2020 is finally here!

One of the many beauties to an FM save is molding your chosen club to your liking. From the staff members, to the tactics out on the pitch, the level of detailed offered in FM is unrivaled in the gaming sector.

Whether you’re building your team from the ground up in a classic Road to Glory style journey, or maintaining your dominance at the top of the pile, you need to have the best players possible on your side.

Defenders aren’t as in the limelight at their midfield and attacking counterparts, but their roles on the pitch are vital to successful campaigns. They say that a good defence will always keep you in the league, regardless of the quality of your attackers.

Centre-backs are typically strong, good in the air and excellent tacklers of the ball, while full-backs and wing-backs are almost as pacey and skillful as the wingers that share the wide areas.

NOW WATCH BELOW: All the managerial tips you need for FM20!

How to choose the best Wonderkid Defenders on Football Manager 2020

To qualify for this list, these players are aged 19 and under, and have a Potential Ability (PA) range of at least 140-170.

They can progress into the best players on the planet. Any players with a fixed PA of 155 or higher have also been included.

Current Ability (CA) and Potential Ability are hidden when in-game, and can only be viewed by using the Football Manager Editor tool or In-Game Editor.

READ MORE: All the best Wonderkid Strikers (ST) to sign on FM20

Star ratings only reflect how good a player is in relation to your first team squad, so if you want accuracy you must follow the CA & PA.

For reference, all CA & PA values are out of 200 and the highest-rated defender in the game currently is Liverpool’s Virgil van Dijk with 178.

Matthijs de Ligt (CA 154 – PA 160-190)

Age: 19

Position(s): D (C)

Club: Zebre (Juventus)

Country: Netherlands

Best Attributes: 17 heading, 16 determination, 16 work rate

Value: £34.5 million

Wage: £200,000 a week

Matthijs de Ligt burst onto the world footballing scene last season thanks to Ajax’s incredible run to the semi-finals of the Champions League. The man-mountain at the back also captained the Amsterdam to the Eredivisie title last season, and at the age of just 18!

De Ligt was always going to move to a European giant in the summer, and when Juventus came calling for the young centre-back, the Dutchman couldn’t say no, not for £200,000 a week. With legends such as Giorgio Chiellini to learn from in Turin, the Bianconeri is the perfect club for De Ligt to become the best defender in the world.

Jean-Clair Todibo (CA 130 – PA 160-190)

Age: 19

Position(s): D (C), DM

Club: Barcelona

Country: France

Best Attributes: 16 natural fitness, 15 first touch, 15 strength

Value: £5.5 million

Wage: £20,500 a week

Although Jean-Clair Todibo is not as famous as de Ligt, the French centre back is just as highly-rated as the Dutch wonderkid when it comes to his potential ability. Barcelona have recognised the huge potential the Frenchman has, signing him for free transfer in January in what could turn out to be an incredible business.

READ MORE: All the best Wonderkid Goalkeepers (GK) to sign on Football Manager 2020

Along with De Ligt, Todibo is one of just two defenders in this upper echelon of potential ability for teenagers. With stats like his 15 first touch and 14 passing, he will be able to play defensive midfielder, in addition to centre-back. At 6’3” tall too, he’s the perfect replacement for Gerard Pique in the future.

William Saliba (CA 119 – PA 150-180)

Age: 18

Position(s): D (C)

Club: St. Etienne (on loan from Arsenal)

Country: France

Best Attributes: 14 jumping reach, 14 stamina, 14 strength

Value: £5.75 million

Wage: £40,000 a week

Arsenal have a rich history of bringing through and nurturing young French talent and William Saliba could be the next to join that illustrious list. Playing for Saint-Etienne as a squad rotation player since he rejoined on-loan, he’s got a long way to go to reach his potential, but at 18, time is definitely on Saliba’s side.

Saliba seems more like an oldschool centre-back than the two previous entries on this list, being more physical than technical. Sometimes, though, that’s what you need at the back, no nonsense, and a 6’4”, he undoubtedly ticks that box.

Nicolo Armini (CA 99 – PA 150-180)

Age: 18

Position(s): D (LC)

Club: Lazio

Country: Italy

Best Attributes: 18 determination, 15 decisions, 15 marking

Value: £250,000

Wage: £220 a week

If you’re looking to pick up a cheap wonderkid from this list, Nicolo Armini is probably your best shot. At just £250,000 in estimated value and playing for not the biggest club in Lazio, you could probably acquire him for less than a million.

Physically and technically, Armini isn’t here nor there, but mentally, he’s got fantastic stats. Mental attributes are hard to improve on throughout a player’s career, but technicals and physicals can be. If Armini transfers to a club with great training facilities and gets regular football, he could be the best defender in the world in 6-7 years time.

Reece James (CA 154 – PA 140-170)

Age: 19

Position(s): D (R), M (C)

Club: Chelsea

Country: England

Best Attributes: 16 determination, 15 crossing, 15 acceleration

Value: £17.75 million

Wage: £5,000 a week

Thanks to Chelsea’s transfer ban, the scores of young talent that the Blues had been relentlessly loaning out are now getting their chance in the first team. The first right back on this list, Reece James is a superb talent that has already scored in the Champions League.

READ MORE: All the best Wonderkid Left Midfielders (ML) and wingers (AML) on Football Manager 2020

James has also been selected by the Young Lions for their U21 side, showing the potential that the Chelsea academy player has for the future. James is also able to play central midfielder off the bat too, owing to his excellent physical and technical attributes.

Juan Miranda (CA 125 – PA 140-170)

Age: 19

Position(s): D (L), M (L)

Club: Schalke (on loan from Barcelona)

Country: Spain

Best Attributes: 15 tackling, 15 natural fitness, 14 pace

Value: £2.9 million

Wage: £8,750 a week

Barcelona have arguably the best youth academy in the world in La Masia, with Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta and Xavi, amongst others emanating from the Catalan facility. Juan Miranda will struggle to live up to those talents, but the Spanish left-back has the confidence of a big Bundesliga side in Schalke.

Schalke have taken the 19-year-old on loan for this season, so you can forget buying the youngster during the 2019-20 season. However, at less than £3m in estimated value, it is possible to buy him from the Blaugrana once he returns to the Camp Nou.

Sergino Dest (CA 124 – PA 140-170)

Age: 18

Position(s): D (LR), M (LR)

Club: Ajax

Country: USA

Best Attributes: 15 technique, 15 pace, 15 acceleration

Value: £2.9 million

Wage: £1,500 a week

Sergino Dest is arguably the best young full back to buy in FM20. Partly due to his fantastic potential and great starting ability, but also because he can play both full-back positions, as well as left and right midfielder. The American can also be training to play as a wide midfielder on both flanks too.

Ajax is a brilliant place to nurture his talent, but as less £3 million in value, it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to pry him from the Dutch side’s hands. Young players are typically fast, and Dest’s pace is arguably his greatest asset, with both 15 pace and acceleration, although his fitness and stamina leave a bit to be desired.

Jorge Cuenca (CA 120 – PA 140-170)

Age: 19

Position(s): D (C)

Club: FC Barcelona

Country: Spain

Best Attributes: 14 determination, 14 heading, 14 tackling

Value: £750,000

Wage: £5,750 a week

Barcelona’s scouting team must play a lot of Football Manager, with Jorge Cuenca being the third defender on this wonderkid list that’s contracted to Los Cules. Despite being just 19-years-old, Cuenca is a physical unit, all of his stats in this category are at least 11.

READ MORE: All the best Wonderkid Attacking Midfielders (AMC) to sign on Football Manager 2020

Don’t downplay his mental attributes, though, he’s got an excellent footballing brain, with his great decision making, determination and positioning. Whereas Todibo is an extremely skillful for a centre back, Cuenca is no-nonsense, which will make them a perfect pair at any team’s central defence.

Oumar Solet (CA 115 – PA 140-170)

Age: 19

Position(s): D (C), DM

Club: Lyon

Country: France

Best Attributes: 15 determination, 15 jumping reach, 14 acceleration

Value: £1.4 million

Wage: £9,500 a week

Oumar Solet is arguably the most well-rounded player on this list, being solid in his mental, physical and technical attributes from the beginning of Football Manager 2020. Solet made his debut for Lyon last season, and his role will expand as the French under-18 international matures.

Solet can also play in defensive midfield and can be trained to one day play central midfield too. Set pieces should be optimised, as Solet’s 6’4” frame will make him a nightmare for defenders at the other end of the pitch to deal with.

Davide Bettella (CA 115 – PA 140-170)

Age: 19

Position(s): D (C)

Club: Pescara (on loan from Atalanta)

Country: Italy

Best Attributes: 15 determination, 15 jumping reach, 14 acceleration

Value: £1.5 million

Wage: £1,500 a week

Davide Bettella is an absolute rock at the back already at just 19, it almost seems unfair that he’s playing for a Serie B club this season. Bettella is Contracted to Atalanta, a club that have enjoyed huge success after qualifying for the champions League this season.

READ MORE: Top 10 clubs to manage on FM20

He’ll likely move on one day, and Bettella could be picked up for relatively little once he graduates to Serie A after his loan expires ahead of the 2020/21 season. Physicality is the main tool in his locker, none of his stats in this regard are lower than 12 and these will only go up.

M. De Ligt19D (C)ZebreHolland154<190£35m£200k
J. Todibo19DM
D (C)
W. Saliba18D (C)Arsenal*France119<180£6m£40k
N. Armini18D (LC)LazioItaly99<180£300k£200
M. Aarons19D (R)
WB (R)
N. Perez19D (C)A. Madrid*Argentina120160£1m£6k
E. Ampadu19D (C)
R. James19D (R)
WB (R)
M (C)
J. Miranda19D (L)
WB (L)
S. Dest18D (LR)
M (LR)
J. Cuenca19D (C)Barcelona BSpain120<170£1m£6k
O. Solet19D (C)
A. Bella-Kotchap17D (C)BochumGermany115<170£2m£1k
D. Bettella19D (C)Atalanta*Italy115<170£2m£2k
G. Corbo19D (C)BolognaItaly110<170£500k£9k
K. Hoever17D (RC)
WB (R) 
T. Pembele19D (C)PSGFrance95<170£200k£1k
R. Bellanova19D (R)
WB (R)
M (R)
J. Vazquez16D (L)
WB (L)
Valencia BSpain75<170£100k£400
J. Vagnoman18D (LR)
A. Centelles19D (L)
WB (L)
Valencia BSpain105150£500k£3k

READ MORE: Football Manager 2020 Review – Subtle tweaks to a proven formula take the game to the next level

George Howson

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