FIFA 14 is among us, and that means there is a whole host of new potential superstars for you to try and sign in career mode. From Isco to Lukaku, listed below are who we believe to be the best 20 players aged 21-and-under in this latest iteration of FIFA.
20. Bernard (Shaktar Donesk)
Age: 20; Pos: CAM; Overall Rating: 80 (potential: 86)
Bernard is a highly rated attacking midfielder that joined Ukrainian giants Shaktar Donesk in the summer. The Brazilian international may be unavailable to purchase in the first transfer window of career mode because of this, but he is certainly a player to keep tabs on. With an abundance of pace, dribbling, 5-star skill moves, and the ability to find an end product by either scoring or setting up a goal, the 21-year old youngster is a top performer in attacking positions. His lack of strength and height – standing at a mere 5’3” – makes him a liability in a defending situation, however.
19. Mattia De Sciglio (AC Milan)
Age: 21; Pos: RB/LB; Overall Rating: 77 (potential: 85)
Having risen through the ranks of the illustrious AC Milan development system, Mattia De Sciglio has been garnering rave reviews both in Italy and the rest of Europe. With the capacity to play in both full back positions, he is a great squad player to have in your team. Defensively he is not quite on par alongside the best in the world to start with, but his pace, dribbling and crossing stats make him a great option for those that use their full backs in overlapping roles. With plenty of room to improve, De Sciglio is one to snap up for your squad early.
18. Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
Age: 20; Pos: ST; Overall Rating: 77 (potential: 86)
With the terrorising of the Premier League last season while on loan with West Brom still fresh in the memory, there was little doubt that Romelu Lukaku would be once again highly rated by the statisticians at FIFA. On loan at Everton for this campaign, the intimidating Belgian powerhouse is the complete striker already…and there’s plenty of room for improvement. His finishing is very good, while holding up the ball is not a problem either thanks to his strength and size. If you are looking for the next Didier Drogba, then Lukaku is the man for you.
17. Mateo Kovačić (Inter Milan)
Age: 19; Pos: CM/CAM; Overall Rating: 77 (potential: 87)
At the age of just 19, Mateo Kovačić has managed to establish himself as a regular fixture in the starting 11 for footballing giants Inter. A creative force in the middle of the park, any FIFA fan would be happy for the Croatian playmaker to be the conductor for their team. His passing and vision are already fantastic, and this is coupled with good overall physical stats such as acceleration, stamina and agility. Putting the ball in the back of the net is his weakness, however, so don’t rely on him to chalk up the goals for your team.
16. Marc-Andre Ter Stegen (Borussia M’gladbach)
Age: 21; Pos: GK; Overall Rating: 80 (potential: 87)
Goalkeepers are often one of the most overlooked aspects of any team building in football video games. Despite this, it is important to get a top quality shot stopper in between the sticks, and Marc-Andre Ter Stegen is one that fits the bill. Already with the stats needed to walk into the majority of first team squads, the German has plenty of room for improvement. An all-round performer with leadership qualities, he is one keeper worth the investment.
15. Marco Verratti (Paris-Saint Germain)
Age: 21; Pos: CDM/CM; Overall Rating: 77 (potential: 88)
Marco Verratti has already been given a lofty comparison to modern day great Andre Pirlo, and, at least in FIFA 14, his ability shows that evaluation is an astute one. Physically, he is not very imposing, nor is he particularly fast. Nonetheless, he has great playmaking and defensive attributes. His passing and vision stats are top notch, while he also provides a rugged, battling quality that is needed in the middle of the park. With the potential to improve his overall rating into the high 80’s, you are ensured you will be getting value for money if Verratti is one of your early purchases in career mode.
14. Bruma (Galatasaray)
Age: 18; Pos: LW/RW; Overall Rating: 75 (potential: 88)
Comparisons with fellow countryman Cristiano Ronaldo have been forthcoming for young Bruma already, due to their similarities in style and also because both previously played for Portuguese side, Sporting CP. As you would expect due to the link with Ronaldo, Bruma possesses plenty of speed and dribbling skills. His end product is slightly lacking in all departments, but after a couple of seasons of steady development that problem will be amended. Can play on both wings, which makes him a versatile squad player,
13. Paul Pogba (Juventus)
Age: 20; Pos: CM/CDM; Overall Rating: 79 (potential: 87)
With hindsight, many people are saying that letting Paul Pogba leave Man United was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last mistake as manager for the club. The Manchester club’s loss was Juventus’ gain, however, with Pogba helping them to the Serie A league title last season. In FIFA 14, he is the complete central midfielder. And that’s before he even starts fulfilling his potential! Strong defensively, strong on the front foot; Pogba would slot nicely into the centre of almost any midfield from the outset. Not to mention that his stature, measuring in at 6’2”, makes him a true physical presence. Like I said, he is the complete central midfielder.
12. David Alaba (Bayern München)
Age: 21; Pos: LB/CM; Overall Rating: 81 (potential: 84)
David Alaba is the current first choice left-back for Bayern München, a team that is generally regarded as the best club in the world right now. Based on just that fact, it is clear to see that Alaba is an excellent player. His stats are strong across the board – minus finishing – which means the Austrian international can play in more places than just left-back. Nurture him properly and he can either be your complete left back or your complete centre midfielder. That choice is up to you, but if that doesn’t signify versatility in a football player, then I don’t know what else will!
11. Stephan El Shaarawy (AC Milan)
Age: 21; Pos: LW/CF; Overall Rating: 81 (potential: 87)
The second AC Milan player on the list, Stephan El Shaarawy is already an established name in the world of football despite being just 21 years old. In the game, he is great at getting in behind defences’ with his fast dribbling ability, and is also adept in finishing any created chances. Deploying him as a deep forward in a team might work best, as his vision and short passing talents will also mean he can bag plenty of assists, as well. With his potential, the Italian starlet will prove to be one of the best strikers in FIFA 14 within a few seasons of career mode.
10. Christian Eriksen (Tottenham Hotspur)
Age: 21; Pos: CAM/CM; Overall Rating: 82 (potential: 88)
Having risen from the illustrious Ajax youth system and becoming one of the most highly regarded footballers in the Netherlands, Christian Eriksen landed a big money move to Tottenham Hotspur this summer. Strong in all aspects of midfield – minus defending – many people feel Eriksen is the best CAM to purchase in career mode. With plenty of pace and great stamina he is physically a stand out. Couple that with his vision, fantastic range of passing and finishing qualities, and you have a midfielder fit to play for any team in the world.
9. Raphael Varane (Real Madrid)
Age: 20; Pos: CB/CDM; Overall Rating: 81 (potential: 88)
In this guide, Raphael Varane is only bettered by one other centre back. That fact, plus knowing he plays for Real Madrid, is generally regarded as one of the finest talents in European football, and has an overall rating of 81 in the game at the age of 20, means he is pretty good at the game of football! Physically massive for a footballer at 6’3”, and, also with his heading and jumping stats rated very highly, the Frenchman will be very hard for any striker to beat in the air. As you would expect, his other defensive attributes are great, but his quality passing – long or short – is perhaps an overlooked aspect of his game. His average acceleration and poor positioning stats might leave you in a bit of trouble at the back, however, but with plenty of improving to do there is no doubt these problems will be ironed out by the time he reaches his potential.
8. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
Age: 21; Pos: CM/CDM; Overall Rating: 82 (potential: 89)
Jack Wilshere was earmarked as one of, if not the most promising English footballers of this generation at the age of just 16 when bursting onto the scene for Arsenal. Wilshere’s career has not quite taken off as expected, with a long standing injury slowing his progress down. But the quality and potential is still there, with FIFA recognising this by giving the youngster lofty stats in the game. Central midfield is his position, although he is also fully capable of playing in a deeper role. Defensively he is good, with plenty of speed to zip around the pitch and plenty of stamina to keep it up for an entire match. Nonetheless, with marvellous vision and passing stats, creativity is definitely his forte.
7. Thibaut Courtois (Atlético Madrid)
Age: 21; Pos: GK; Overall Rating: 84 (potential: 88)
Not only is Thibaut Courtois the best young goalkeeper in FIFA 14, but he is also already one of the best overall. Just one other ‘keeper – a certain Manuel Neuer – is rated as having a better overall rating after their potential is met, and Courtois has an extra seven years of playing time compared to Neuer! His reflexes, handling, positioning and diving are all in the low-high 80’s, with just his kicking distribution letting him down a touch. Other than that, the Belgium international is the perfect number one for your team.
6. Zakaria Bakkali (PSV)
Age: 17; Pos: RW/LW; Overall Rating: 73 (potential: 90)
If you are in career mode for the long haul and looking for someone to build your team around, then Zakaria Bakkali could be just the perfect fit for you. Compared to other players on this list, Bakkali has a modest overall rating. But do not let that discourage you; with sky-high potential this Belgium winger is worth the early investment. Already a fast dribbler of the ball and a good long shot converter, once his potential is met he will be an incredible player for any side. Just make sure you are careful in guiding his rise to the top!
5. Isco (Real Madrid)
Age: 21; Pos: CAM/LM; Overall Rating: 84 (potential: 89)
Tipped to be a future ‘galáctico’, Isco made a high profile move to footballing giants Real Madrid in the summer. Although his flying start for his new club hasn’t been taken into account by the statisticians at FIFA, he already boasts a healthy overall rating of 84 on the game. A true visionary, Isco has the playmaker trait already assigned to him, whilst his ball control and finishing are top quality for a midfielder. Played either in the centre or the left of midfield, the Spanish sensation will add plenty to any team he plays in.
4. Marquinhos (Paris Saint-Germain)
Age: 19; Pos: CB/RB; Overall Rating: 78 (potential: 89)
When looking for the best centre back in FIFA, you want someone that excels in marking, interceptions and heading. Physically, you want then to be of above average footballing height, be able to jump high, and have that extra bit of acceleration along with reaction times. Marquinhos, despite being just 19, meets all of those requirements. And the scary thing is, he has massive room for improvement! The Bazillion plying his trade in France with Paris Saint-Germain has been garnering rave reviews over the past 12 months for his club, and, if you have the disposable income, is an essential buy on FIFA 14.
3. Mario Götze (Bayern München)
Age: 21; Pos: CAM/CF; Overall Rating: 85 (potential: 92)
If you follow football, then no doubt you will have heard of Mario Götze. His shock move to German giants Bayern München hasn’t quite taken off as yet, but his form for previous club Borussia Dortmund ensures he has lofty stats in FIFA 14. His attacking play is, as you would expect, brilliant. The Germany international can also play in either midfield or up front, which makes him a flexible option. His judged overall potential is also the highest of any player 21-year old or under in FIFA 14, although his injury proneness and lack of elite speed keep him from obtaining top spot in this list.
2. Lucas (Paris Saint-Germain)
Age: 21; Pos: RM/RW; Overall Rating: 82 (potential: 90)
The third and final Paris Saint-Germain player on this list is Lucas, a player many stalwart-FIFA fans will know about. Having been a wonderkid for the past few instalments of the FIFA series, it is perhaps still surprising to see that the Brazilian international is still just 21-years old! His blistering speed, excellent dribbling, precise passing, and fantastic finishing – especially with long shots – make him an ideal player on the right side of midfield. If you have got the cash to splash in career mode, then Lucas is an essential purchase.
1. Neymar (FC Barcelona)
Age: 21; Pos: ST/LW; Overall Rating: 84 (potential: 91)
Who else? A footballing superstar, Neymar made his long-awaited move away from his adoring Santos faithful to European football, where he signed for La Liga champions Barcelona in a mega-money deal. His fabulous dribbling and finishing skills earned him admirers across the globe, and that talent has been conveyed to his stats on FIFA 14. 93 agility, 92 dribbling, 91 ball control, 91 acceleration, 89 sprint speed, 88 positioning, 86 stamina, 84 finishing, 5-star skill moves, 5-star weak foot; Neymar has everything you want in a winger or a striker. Whether you think he is overrated in real life or not, one thing is for certain: Neymar is the real deal in FIFA 14, and that’s why he is number one on this list.
If you have an opinion about this list or about players you feel should have been included, please comment below!
Please note: All potential overall ratings for the players has been taken from FutHead.com. As noted by them, all potential stats are estimated, and a player may surpass the figure assigned to them.