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Soccer Manager 2023: Top 10 Best Young Defenders and Goalkeepers

The future Stars who will hunt and bring glory for your club!

Attack wins you games, defence wins you titles” – Sir Alex Ferguson. Defenders and goalkeepers are the backbones of any successful team in Soccer Manager 2023 (SM23). They play a crucial role in protecting the team’s goal and helping to launch attacks from the back. Getting the defence sorted is usually the first step in a football club’s long-term project, and the best way to do this is by investing in the youth. There are some bright youngsters around the world and with the right coaching and development, they could potentially become world-beaters.

Best Young Defenders and Goalkeepers in Soccer Manager 2023

In this article, we will be looking at the top 10 young defenders and goalkeepers in Soccer Manager 2023. From established stars to promising up-and-comers, these players are all worth keeping an eye on. They are all under 21 years old and can potentially make immediate impacts on the team as well as long-term.

1. William Saliba (Arsenal)

SM23 Best Defenders - William Saliba
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Ever since Saliba transferred to Arsenal in 2019 for $30 million, fans have been waiting for him to finally make an impact on the first team. After 2 seasons of loans, he is finally here, and he is one of the reasons behind Arsenal’s successful league performances this season. He won’t be cheap in Soccer Manager 2023, but he is a well-rounded, modern ball-playing centre-back – already starter-level at 21 years old.

2. Eric Garcia (Barcelona)

SM23 Best Defenders - Eric Garcia Soccer Manager 2023 best young defenders
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Originally, Garcia came through Barcelona‘s youth academy but moved to Manchester City early on. He made 35 appearances for the senior team before switching to the Catalans for a free transfer. Xavi saw good potential in the 21-year-old, and this is also the case in Soccer Manager 23. As a ball-playing defender, Garcia offers pace and power at the back and could grow into one of the game’s best defenders.

3. Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig)

Impressing on both the club and international levels, Gvardiol is one of the highest-profile young defenders around. During the World Cup 2022, he was a key member of the defence and helped guide Croatia to the semi-finals. Currently at RB Leipzig, Gvardiol has been linked with a big money transfer to a top European club.

SM23 Best Defenders - Josko Gvardiol
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In Soccer Manager 2023, he is a left-footed ball-playing defender, known for his speed and technical ability on the ball. As his in-game transfer price may not be as high as his real-life valuation, the early seasons are a good opportunity to sign Gvardiol.

4. Benoit Badiashile (AS Monaco)

SM23 Best Defenders - Benoit Badiashile Soccer Manager 2023 best young defenders
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Badiashile is a highly promising young defender who recently transferred to Chelsea from AS Monaco. At 21 years old, he earned 2 caps for the French national team. In particular, he is known for his tall, powerful, and physically dominant style of play. A left-footed centre-back, Badiashile has a great potential of 97 in-game and is certainly one to keep an eye on.

5. Jurrien Timber (Ajax)

A standout for both Ajax and the Netherlands national team, 21-year-old Jurrien Timber has established himself as one of the best young defenders in the game. He played in four out of five of the Netherlands’ games at the World Cup and even started in the quarterfinal match against Argentina. In Soccer Manager 23, Timber is a versatile defender who can play both centre-back and right-back and has a potential rating of 99, making him a valuable asset for any team.

SM23 Best Defenders - Jurrien Timber
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Despite being linked with a move away from Ajax in the summer transfer window, Timber ended up staying put and has continued to make waves for both club and country. No doubt, he could be a player to watch in the future.

6. Jeremie Frimpong (Bayer Leverkusen)

With two goals and nine assists for Bayer Leverkusen last season, Jeremie Frimpong has established himself as a key member of the team. A product of Manchester City‘s youth academy, Frimpong is known for his hardworking nature and quick, skilful dribbling ability.

SM23 Best Defenders - Jeremie Frimpong Soccer Manager 2023 best young defenders
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In Soccer Manager 2023, he is a versatile player who can occupy multiple positions, including right-back, right midfield, and right-wing. Furthermore, Frimpong is already a starter quality and has the potential to grow into a brilliant player.

7. Nuno Mendes (PSG)

A product of Sporting’s youth academy, Nuno Mendes has burst onto the scene as one of the brightest young defensive talents in European football. Currently 20 years old, the left wingback joined Paris Saint-Germain on loan in the 2021/22 season before signing permanently a year later for a fee of €38 million.

SM23 Best Defenders - Nuno Mendes
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In Soccer Manager 2023, Mendes is already a starter-quality player with a potential rating of 94, making him a standout in his position. With his technical ability and attacking prowess, Mendes is a player to keep an eye on both in real life and in the game.

8. Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)

SM23 Best Defenders - Alphonso Davies Soccer Manager 2023 best young defenders
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It feels like Alphonso Davies has been around for a while, ever since that UCL-winning year in 2020. His electrifying pace is a sight to behold, and combining that with his deadly dribbling makes for one serious wing-back. In Soccer Manager 2023, Davies’ versatility allows him to occupy multiple positions including on the wing.

9. Maarten Vandevoordt (Genk)

At just 20 years old, Maarten Vandevoordt has already cemented his spot as a starter keeper for KRC Genk. His potential in Soccer Manager 2023 is impressive, with a maximum rating of 97. In real life, Vandevoordt has already finalized a deal to join RB Leipzig in 2024, though in the game he is listed as being on loan from Leipzig in 2023.

SM23 Best Defenders - Maarten Vandervoordt
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While he may not be available for signing in the first season, he is a player to keep an eye on in the future. Wonderkid keepers need lots of playing time otherwise they rarely fulfil their potential. As such, ensure that Vandevoordt will get sufficient minutes before signing him.

10. Anatoliy Trubin (Shakhtar Donetsk)

Trubin has already established himself as a starter for Shakhtar Donetsk, despite his young age. He is known for his shot-stopping ability and has a decent potential rating in Soccer Manager 2023. Trubin won’t necessarily be a wonderkid signing like some other players on this list.

SM23 Best Defenders - Anatoliy Trubin Soccer Manager 2023 best young defenders
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However, instead, he will offer some quality immediately and has the potential to grow into a valuable keeper in future, all at a decent price. This is a good signing for a lower-league side where Trubin can play regular minutes, as this is crucial to a keeper’s development.

Did you find our guide on the best young defenders and goalkeepers of Soccer Manager 2023 helpful? Do let us know in the comments section below!

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