Most of the world’s top teams play with a defensive midfielder – somebody decided to stay back and do the dirty work while your creative players shine in attack.

Plenty of tactics in Football Manager 2023 include a DM and so it’s important to make sure you’ve got a reliable one, and there are plenty of options out there for teams with any sort of transfer budget.

Here are the best defensive midfielders to sign on FM23.

David Lopez

Comfortable both in midfield and defence, Lopez is one of a few top-tier options that you’ll find at this price tag. The 32-year-old brings 14 tackling and 14 marking for his £3.7m price tag.

Saphir Taider
Free agent

If you’ve got no money to spare, take a look at Taider. He’s one of the top free agents available and brings a wealth of European experience with him.

Agus Medina

27-year-old Medina is more of a playmaker than a defender but, if that’s your style, look to him for around £3m.

Paul Jaeckel
Union Berlin

23-year-old Jaeckel looks like a smart buy with his 15s for both tackling and marking. He still has a little room left to grow too.

Gary Medel

On an expiring contract, the veteran Medel is available for as little as £240,000. He could be a smart buy for a smaller side looking for short-term cover.


As far as top-tier talents go, Souza is the finest you’ll find for cheap. The Besiktas veteran is available for as little as £2.1m but is good enough to start for a mid-table side in an elite division, thanks to his 16 tackling.

Andres Guardado
Real Hispalis

A valuable squad player due to his versatility, Guardado is another who is more of a passer than a tackler. He’s yours for £700,000.

Lucas Leiva

Leiva has just joined his new club so can’t be swayed to leave immediately, but keep an eye on him because his £750,000 is more than fair for a short-term option.

Julian Baumgartlinger

£660,000 is all you’ll need to sin Baumgartlinger, whose 18 stamina means you shouldn’t worry about the fact he is 34 years old.

Pedro Bigas

A midfielder, centre-back and left-back all in one, Bigas is a nice squad option at £2.3m.

Renato Tapia

£6m for Tapia is a steal. He’s one of the best midfielders you’ll find at this price point, but also one of the cheapest. There are plenty of sides sniffing around him as the game starts, so you better move quick.

Daley Blind

Blind comes in at the top of this price point at £14m, but he is good enough to cover for an elite side. For any team in need of help, he could be your guy.

Axel Witsel
A. Madrid

Atletico are in a rush to lower their wage bill and so they’ll sell you Witsel for a cool £11m. For a top player who can also fill in at the back, you really can’t argue with that.

Charles Aranguiz
Bayer 04

A penalty specialist, 33-year-old Aranguiz is available for just £7m. With his 15 passing, he’d make a great deep lying playmaker.

Lucas Torreira

Torreira has just joined Galatasaray but keep an eye on him because he remains more than good enough to feature for a top side. His price tag at the start of the game sits at £8.5m.

Mateus Uribe

Also our favourite signing for central midfield, Uribe is in his element defensively. His 16 tackling and his unreal mental stats make him an excellent candidate for the role and his price tag of just £10m is a steal when you consider the fact his stats match up to those of players in the expensive bracket.

Nemanja Maksimovic

Serbian enforcer Maksimovic has plenty of interest in him early on, with numerous sides looking to meet his £7.25m asking price.

Oriol Romeu

Another recent signing, don’t hesitate to move for Romeu when he does hit the market. The former Southampton man is valued at £10.5m early on.

Nemanja Matic

£5.25m is enough to convince Roma to part with Matic, although the man himself is reluctant to leave just yet after only recently joining.

Sergi Darder

There are a lot of ways to use Darder, who brings 16 passing and 15 tackling. He’s best suited to a playmaker role but you can limit him to defending if you need to, and he’s yours for £14.5m.

William Carvalho
Real Hispalis

Carvalho at £20m is a great price. He’s got all the stats you need to be an elite defensive anchor and is about as cheap as they come for that sort of quality.

Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa

Despite a misleadingly low initial value, Zambo Anguissa is actually available for £38m, which is still a fair price for a player of his current ability.

Sergio Busquets

Statistically the best DM you’ll find without breaking the bank is Busquets, who is on the last year of his contract and available for a cool £21.5m.

Ismael Bennacer

Bennacer comes with a £43m release clause which is well worth triggering if you’ve got the money. The 24-year-old is great now and comes with the potential to grow into a real monster if you play your cards right.

Geoffrey Kondogbia
A. Madrid

At £19.5m, Kondogbia is sensational value for money. He’s a superb tackler and passer, with 15s for both, so there are plenty of different ways for you to use him in your team.

Guido Rodriguez
Real Hispalis

At £20m, this is a no-brainer. Rodriguez is among the top DMs on the entire game – just look at his 18 tackling and 18 positioning – and plenty of top teams will try to sign him because he’s such good value. Without a doubt, he’s your man for the role (and Carvalho is a close second).

Danilo Pereira

A capable centre-back and an elite midfielder, Danilo can be yours for just £22m, making him a viable alternative to somebody like Rodriguez.

Edson Alvarez

Alvarez is a top talent now and still has room to grow into an elite midfielder. His £31m price tag is a little high compared to others of his current ability but you’re paying extra for the resale value and longevity.

Teun Koopmeiners

Another young prospects, Koopmeiners is a great player who is perhaps a little under that elite bracket at this point, but he’ll grow into an excellent player and is a low risk at £20m.

Stanislav Lobotka

An excellent all-round midfielder with 17 tackling and 16 passing (and 6 finishing), Lobotka is perfectly suited for so many different tactical styles and is absolutely worth his £26m price tag.


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