Updated: Jun 29, 2020
Football Index offers a unique combination of hyped youngsters and genuine stars blurred between the lines of value for money. It's often difficult to identify if a player is really worth the value, particularly in the defenders category. 'Defenders' can include a goalkeeper, an out and out centre-half, an attacking full-back that plays as a winger or even a hybrid central midfielder - plus anything in between! For those that question if that's true, Alphonso Davies is listed as a defender despite playing regularly further forward this season, whilst Kimmich spent the first half of the season listed as a defender. That's Bayern Munich alone; you can imagine there are plenty of other players who flutter in-between the lines of what Football Index categorises as a Defender.
With the Premier League returning, we've compiled a list of 'defenders' under 23 years old, cheaper than £2, that offer the chance to grow in value whilst offering potential dividends. All players have played regular football (over 15 matches) this season in the premier league. As such, there's more data and less speculation with their performances. The other criteria we've applied is a PB average of 100+ and PB max of 200+. This means the players are a proven consistent in their team, with the ability to put in a standout performance here and there.
Oleksandr Zinchencko | Manchester City | £1.43
Zinchenko is somewhat of an anomaly in the Man City side. They boast an outstanding combination of established global stars and young exciting prospects that all carry a greater price tag than the Ukrainian. Zinchenko started the season at LB, though he's probably considered a hybrid centre midfielder. He did, however, suffer an injury that required knee surgery last October, which kept him out until the very last game of 2019. He then flickered in between matchdays as Guardiola rotated his squad to keep them in the Champions League battle. Zinchenko now sits at a very nice looking value for a young defender that has already won PB dividends this season. When you scratch deeper, he averages 128 per match and has posted a best of 272 this term.
Only Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alphonso Davies have a better PB average for a defender under 23 years old on Football Index.
Aaron Wan-Bissaka | Manchester United | £1.90
The English defender has had a season of finding his feet at arguably the biggest club on the planet, but looks as though he's finally started to prove his worth. The latter half of the season so far saw Wan-Bissaka put in a few good performances whilst shrugging off the negative chains that had been restraining him since his 'disappointing' arrival. Wan-Bissaka is mostly regarded as a full-back with a defensive ability far better than his offensive output. Given the Index favours attack rather than defence, it's been a tough season in his price profile. He's dipped in value after the transfer hype and inability to win dividends, but now sits at a far more reasonable price than at the start of the season. At 22 years old, he's posted an average PB of 105 and a best of 201 - scraping into this list both in terms of value and PB criteria. Nonetheless, he plays for Manchester United so deserves a shout. United always inflate value through their media dominance.
The combination of Manchester United and England makes him a media target that will no doubt push him into the spotlight should he challenge for a starting position in Southgate's side.
TAA is the obvious candidate for England right now, but his defensive liabilities may prove that he's only an asset in a system like Klopp's Liverpool team. AWB is the next most established RB that could represent England on the biggest stage. A first season in Manchester to settle the nerves, plus a reinforced United squad could see his PB rise and the media start to take a glance - all raising dividend potential. He's a good value player for those that believe he's worth the price United paid for him.
Joe Gomez | Liverpool | £1.54
Gomez has been a fantastic asset to Liverpool this season, helping them to a dominant run in the Premier League. He's started half of their games this term, proving a useful option through rotating with Joel Matip alongside Virgil Van Dyke. Gomez has already earned 8 caps and looks to be a magnificent talent. He's developing alongside one of the greatest central defenders of this generation, and has already won a champions league and all-but-won an English title too. Not bad for 23 years old. Gomez posts an average PB of 115, whilst a PB best of 211 this season is respectable from central defence. Generally speaking, central defenders that don't offer much going forward aren't as attractive on the index. If Gomez could work on his ability to either create chances or perhaps add a goal or two at set pieces, he'd certainly improve his PB.
Given how dominant Liverpool have been over the last 12 months, and the fact that Gomez is already a solid option for England, his media potential is as good as any central defender of his age.
The following players nearly matched the criteria, so are worthy of a glance.
Ben Chillwell | Leicester City | £2.64
Although he's too expensive to reach our list, Chillwell arguably provides the best bang for your buck of all defenders named here. There's a reason he's a little more expensive, and it's not just because of transfer hype. Chillwell, like Gomez and AWB, is challenging for a place in England's starting lineup. He's earned 11 caps at 23 years old, and looks an outstanding PB prospect in the Leicester setup. He boasts an average PB of 127 and has reached 342 once this season.
Trent Alexander-Arnold | Liverpool | £9.51
Admittedly, TAA is way over budget. But if you consider bang for your buck over the following three years, there's a stern argument for onboarding TAA even at his current price. He's won £0.43 in PB divs this season, in addition to £0.13 media. Given how Liverpool are performing, he's a prospect that looks to be getting better by the match. At 21 years old, the next three years look to be in dividend-winning territory whilst he's young enough to continue improving and hold his value.
Nico Elvedi | Borussia Monchengladbach | £1.01
Elvedi isn't a Premier League defender so never made the cut. Without transfer links, he lacks any media attention whatsoever. But his value looks half decent compared to plenty of other defenders that matched the criteria. He offers European Football (though it's yet to be decided if that's UCL or Europa League) at a young age whilst featuring as a starter in every match. A PB average of 113 and max of 220 is respectable at 23 years old, whilst he's won £0.05 in PB this season. Three years could be needed to profit from him, but there's a chance that his distinguished performances could attract bigger and better sides than Monchengladbach.
Dan Axel-Zagadou | Borussia Dortmund | £1.33
Injury has kept him sidelined for Dortmund in recent weeks, though this largely helps his value look even more attractive as he's missed the Bundesliga inflation. The ex-PSG man has posted a PB best of 275, whilst he averages 108 this season. Regular European Football in a talented Dortmund side will keep traders lurking, whilst the fact that he's just turned 21 adds an element of wonderkid hype to his potential. Next season will be huge for him on FI.
Mathijs De Ligt | Juventus | £2.03
De Ligt missed out on the list on his marginal excess price-tag and Serie A constraint. The 20 year old centre-back hasn't particularly been a stand-out performer for Juve this season, despite his massively anticipated arrival from Ajax last summer. The commanding centre-half has gradually fallen from the wonderkid throne this season, almost halving in value over the last 12 months. However, the fact that he's not excelled probably plays in his favour on the index. A debut season is rarely an indication of how much is in a young player's locker. De Ligt is still just 20 years old and looks all but certain as the starting centre back to pair alongside VVD for the Netherlands. He's got years to fulfil his potential, and despite a rocky start, has still managed to average 110 and a best of 235 - enough to secure £0.08 in PB dividends.
The Remainders who matched all but PL criteria are: