One of the more romantic notions in football is when a young group of fledglings come up through the ranks together and then go on to dominate the world stage. While it doesn’t happen all that often in real life, (bar Manchester United’s glorious Class of ’92 amongst others) it’s something that you can actively do in the career mode of EA Sports’ FIFA series to your heart’s content.
That is, amass a team of young whippersnappers and watch them grow, mature, and win together. Unfortunately, there’s a mind-numbing amount of dross within FIFA’s career mode so it’s oftentimes overwhelming when faced with building a squad of players who are even worth their salt.
Luckily, we’ve trawled through the thousands of young players housed within FIFA’s robust database and cherry-picked a top XI of the best young, cheap, and precociously talented youngsters ready and willing to do the business for you in your FIFA 16 career mode.
If you’re still playing FIFA 15, check out our FIFA 15 career mode bargains.
For the purpose of this team, we’ll be using a 4-3-3; the perfect combination of flair, awareness and dynamism. Let’s get started.
Goalkeeper Top Pick – Bartłomiej Drągowski
Alternatives– Matia Perrin, André Moreira, Joël Drommel
If there’s one thing there’s no shortage of in world football, it’s young ‘keepers. It’s tough to gauge a goalkeeper’s potential before the age of 20, and as a result, there’s a plethora of players to choose from for this particular position. We’ve jumped for Bartłomiej Drągowski, (try saying that name three times quickly) the 18-year-old Polish shot stopper who’s had rave reviews this the past season at Jagiellonia Białystok and looks set to kick on from there. With a base rating of 71 that will climb to 86, and costing under £4 million (not an awful lot for a player who can command a position for years) Drągowski’s worth a punt for his longevity alone. Not to mention his positional sense, diving, and reflexes to boot.
Left-Back Top Pick – Brendan Galloway
Alternatives: Arellano, Angelino, Ben Chilwell
England has a strong tradition of extremely capable left-backs on a national level, it’s about all they can actually cheer about most of the time. And while Manchester United’s Luke Shaw has the position seemingly locked down for years to come after taking over from Ashley Cole, it means that there’s going to be a few players who fly under the radar as a result. One such example is Everton prospect Brendan Galloway, 19-year-old left-back whose pace and direct running would be an asset to any side looking to speed up play from the back. Available for roughly £1 million and ascending to just over a 80 rating after a couple of seasons, he’s certainly worth the price.
Centre-back Top Picks – Jérôme Junior Onguéné & Jeremiah St. Juste
Alternatives: Vallejo, Rivaldo Coetzee, Jorge Meré
You know a player’s going to be good when EA Sports hasn’t even bothered to put a photo of him in the game. The first of two that share the same unenviable trait of being absent on the day the pictures were being taken, Jérôme Junior Onguéné is a 6′ 2” centre-back plying his trade for Sochaux in Ligue 2.
A physical commanding presence let down only by his stock rating of 58, this 17-year-old grows a massive 22 points up to peak of around 80, and with his transfer fee touted at £300,000 he’s absolutely ideal for a side looking to inject some youthful vigor and potential without having to break the bank to do so.
In a bid to compliment the brute physicality of Jérôme Junior Onguéne at centre-half, we’ve chosen Jeremiah St. Juste; a consummate modern defender whose acceleration, standing tackle, and jumping in corners make him a shoo-in for the starting XI. Coming from Heerenveen, and aged just 18, this highly-rated centre-back will set you back around £3 million but with a return of a rating that reaches 84, there’s no doubting just how good he can be.
His stock rating of 70 is no slouch for a lower-tier team, either, and even if you’re presiding over one of the top teams his small fee is worth paying up if to just send him on a two-year loan to realize his potential.
Right-Back Top Pick – Kevin Diks
Alternatives: Kenny Tate, Mason Holgate, Saidy Janko
Staying with the Eredivisie momentarily, we’re looking no further than Vitesse’s Kevin Diks for the right-back slot. With a potential rating of 80 to mirror that of the other flank, the Dutch-born youngster will set you back just under £2,000,000, but with a stock rating of 70 and still only 18, he’ll have plenty of time to the recoup the cost for your potential team. A good, right-footed all-rounder, Diks excels with defensive awareness, aggression, and a penchant for charging down the flank. Snap him up.
CDM Top Pick – Rúben Neves
Alternatives: Youri Tielemans, Riechedly Bazoer, Assane Gnoukouri
The priciest of players in this particular team, Portuguese prodigy Rúben Neves has been causing quite a stir since his debut for Porto back in 2014 Destined for greatness undoubtedly, the 1997-born defensive midfielder is likened to another countryman, João Moutinho, for his fine first touch, eye for a pass, and fantastic vision. Couple that with a defensive astuteness and awareness beyond his years, Neves’ price of about £6.8 million should provide no stumbling block given his potential to reach a well-rounded 86. His stock rating begins at 74, too, so there’s little doubt that he could do a job right off the bat.
Plus, play your cards right and you can see a massive return in his rating in just one season.
CM Top Pick – Abdelhak Nouri
Alternatives: Martin Ødegaard, Donny van de Beek, Manu García
Dipping back into the talent pool of the Eredivisie once again, and to Jong Ajax, Abdelhak Nouri is another low-rated and low-priced gem that has bags of potential, not to mention balance and agility in abundance, too. A diminutive, tenacious midfielder, Nouri has four-star skills, four-star weak foot, and costs just over £1 million. For a player that can hit at least 84, a massive 18 points from his stock rating of 66, that’s a bargain in anyone’s language so don’t waste any time.
CAM Top Pick – Fabián Ruiz Peña
Alternatives: Zachary Elbouzedi, Ben Swanson, John Souttar
Another mystery just like the aforementioned Jérôme Junior Onguéné, (insofar as he doesn’t have a photo either) Real Betis’ Fabián Ruiz Peña is a gem that many mightn’t be aware of. With the potential to reach a peak of 85, the succinctly-named Fabián is an elegant attacking midfielder whose most commendable traits are his positioning, dribbling ability, and composure. While not the quickest by any stretch, the Spanish youngster is best used in an advanced 4-3-3 where the space is squeezed and he can orchestrate out to wingers or play tight through balls to an onrushing striker. With Betis comfortable doing business at roughly £2.7 million it may seem a little steep, but trust us, every team needs a least one luxury player.
Left Winger Top Pick – Václav Černý
Alternatives: Gonçalo Guedes, Dennon Lewis, Rafik Zekhnini
As we’re all aware, the Eredivisie is a proverbial hotbed for potential world-beaters. Year after year there’s a new flock of youngsters all touted to become the next big thing and this year’s of course no different. With that in mind, we’ve put our attention on Václav Černý, the young Czech winger playing for Ajax’s reserve team, Jong Ajax. (They’re going to hate the sight of you). Another 17-year-old with pace to burn and a level of trickery that would tongue-tie even Jérôme Boateng, Černý begins his FIFA journey at a relatively modest 66 but will rise to 86 if the right conditions are met. He’s available for just under £800,000 meaning you’d be insane not to jump at the chance of slotting him into your starting XI.
Right Winger Top Pick – Steven Bergwijn
Alternatives: Nikolai Laursen, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Isaiah Brown
Following Memphis Depay’s big-money departure to Manchester United this summer, PSV Eindhoven have been clamoring for another showpiece winger who can captivate fans with his trickery, pace and overall talent. Thankfully, the answer is in a former Ajax youth player, Steven Bergwijn, a 17-year-old prodigy who is nailed on to make his mark on PSV this season.
And it seems as though EA Sports realizes this, as Bergwijn’s potential lets him get to a rating of 85, 19 points higher than his stock of 66. He costs right around £1.5 million, too, so there’s little reason why he can’t stake a claim on the right-side of a three-pronged attack for season up season.
Striker Top Pick – Kelechi Iheanacho
Alternatives: Breel Donald Embolo, Enes Ünal, Maxwel Cornet
Manchester City youngster Kelechi Iheanacho is a very capable striker, comfortable with leading the line for any prospective career mode club. Standing at a tall, yet mobile, 6′ 1”, Iheanacho is just the right buy to spearhead a three-man attack in a 4-3-3.
Don’t baulk at his 67 base rating, either, as the young Nigerian soars to a very respectful 85 with the right tutelage. And while chances are he won’t get too much of a look-in at City this year, (despite scoring against Crystal Palace some weeks ago) you’ve got every reason to foot his £8,000 -a-week wages and paltry £1.3 million transfer fee for the potential alone .
His middle name’s ‘Promise’, too. So there’s that.
Have you been enjoying FIFA 16? Don’t forget to check out our definitive review of the game right here, and check back for some more FIFA 16 career mode tips soon.