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Positional guides FM24

Ball Playing Defender

Lazy Jun 7, 2021 Last modified: 6 Oct 58,664 views

A closer look at the Ball-playing defender role in Football Manager.

What is a Ball-playing defender?

Football Manager states: The main job of the Ball-playing defender is to stop the opposing attackers from playing and to clear the ball from danger when required. However, unlike standard central defenders, the Ball-playing defender is encouraged to launch defence splitting through balls from deep to generate counter-attacking opportunities.

The Ball-playing defender is available with Defend, Stopper & Cover duties.

With a defend duty he will stay in line with his defensive partner. With the Stopper duty he will push forward ahead of the defensive line to close down players. With a covering duty the Ball-playing defender will drop deeper to sweep up through balls behind the defensive line.

Dictating the attack

The Ball-playing defender will be the first player in the attack. He will be the one that will send passes into the midfield but also long-balls to your forwards and wingers. However, he will not be sending simple passes to the closest player. No, he will look for space and will need moving players to complete long passes.

When do I pick a Ball-playing defender?

You would think that a Ball-playing defender (BPD) would only suit a possession based tactic but that is not the case. As the BPD will also look for long balls, it is also a very good pick if you use a counter tactic. The BPD could then try long passes behind the opponent's defence as he looks for through balls on your quick strikers.

A BPD could suit any sort of tactic, the only thing you need to consider is how to partner him. You must have a dedicated defender next to him as the BPD could be moving out of his position when your team has the ball.

Which attributes does a Ball-playing defender need?

As a central defender the BPD still needs the basic attributes any defender needs. However, the BPD also needs the technical and mental attributes to allow him to complete passes.

Defensive Duty

Key Desirable
Heading First Touch
Marking Technique
Passing Aggression
Tackling Anticipation
Composure Bravery
Positioning Concentration
Jumping Reach Decisions
Strength Vision


Key Desirable
Heading First Touch
Passing Marking
Tackling Technique
Aggression Anticipation
Bravery Concentration
Composure Vision
Jumping Reach  


Key Desireable
Marking First Touch
Passing Heading
Tackling Technique
Anticipation Bravery
Composure Vision
Concentration Jumping Reach
Decisions Strength

Ball-playing defender player traits

Player traits are actions a player will more likely perform during a match than others.They don't give him extra abilities, but will affect his decision making. A player trait can be learned through individual training or through mentoring.

For a Ball-playing defender you could be looking at the following player traits:

  • Tries to play way out of trouble
  • Tries long range passes
  • Brings ball out of defense
  • Likes to switch ball to wide areas

Player traits to avoid:

  • Plays simple passes

Ball-playing defenders in FM23

A selection of some of the best Ball-playing defenders in Football Manager 2023.

  • RAT
  • name
  • age
  • sell value
  • POT
  • 79
  • FabinhoDR, DC, DM, MCDM
  • 28
  • € 75,433,630
  • 84


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