In this week’s Backpage, football journalist and FIFA fan Darren Cross picks out a team of top young stars for you to sign up in Career Mode…
I’ve been on a bit of a scouting mission lately.
One of my favourite things about Career Mode is finding great new players, so recently I’ve been running a few different saves and hunting for new stars that are both cheap and full of potential.
I found a team full.
All of the players in this week’s Backpage are bargains and will improve as long as you give them games. They’re available right from the start of the first season and, perhaps most importantly, all feel great to actually use in matches. You can sim games with these guys in your team and they will grow, but the real fun is in actually using them on the pitch.
I have one save game where I’ve got all eleven of them in the same side and it really is brilliant to use, full of pace and power.
So whether you want one or two new wonderkids to boost your squad, or a whole team of them that you can stick with and develop over time, you’ll hopefully find players here that fit the bill.
Let’s take a look…
COST: £1.4 million
Horn’s stats don’t look all that great when you first check out his profile at the start of season one, but don’t let that put you off. He improved very quickly for me, reaching an Overall of 75 after just over a year, and I had to reject approaches from a number of bigger clubs willing to spend a lot more than the £1.4 million I paid to sign him.
In season three of my save he is still getting better, albeit a little slower, and I expect him to at least hit the late 70s in terms of Overall, which is great considering how little he cost. I mentioned earlier that these players all feel great to use in games and that’s definitely true about Horn. He’s 6ft 4in tall, so a great physical barrier, and just seems to be very solid.
My favourite young goalkeeper is still Nicola Leali, who we looked at in this Future Stars feature http://www.ea.com/uk/news/fifa-13-future-stars but he’s not available at the start of the game so I recommend Horn as an alternative. If you do decide to buy Leali later then you can let Horn go and make a nice profit.
COST: £1.5 million
Najar is actually a right midfielder, so keep that in mind if you search for him, and I have to admit that I accidentally discovered he can also be an excellent right-back. I was playing a Career Mode game with Derby in the Championship and signed two right wingers without realising – one being Najar and the other Birmingham’s Nathan Redmond, who is also excellent – so I was just about to send Najar back when I spotted RM/RB under Position in his profile.
I gave him a go and he immediately felt awesome back there, where his 84 Acceleration and 72 Sprint Speed gave great cover to the central defenders. He felt great going forward too, thanks to his 74 Dribbling, 87 Agility and four-star skill moves. In my next CM game I signed him up straight away and in just a few years he has grown dramatically and is still improving.
You have to pay a few hundred thousand pounds more than his value to sign him initially, but you’ll get many times your money back if you give him games and eventually decide to sell.
My number one wonderkid left-back is still Loris Benito – also in that Future Stars piece I linked to a moment ago – but Anderlecht’s Jordan Lukaku, younger brother of Romelu Lukaku, is a brilliant alternative should you miss out on Benito in the first window.
He is one of those players that doesn’t seem that special when you look at his profile, but just feels good in game. Lukaku seems a lot stronger than his starting Strength stat of 71 suggests, and he is rarely beaten for pace in my game despite Acceleration and Sprint Speed ratings in the mid to high 70s.
His improvement is more steady than rapid, but after three or four seasons his Overall should be around 71 or 72 and he’ll still have a few years to add to that, so at £550k I think he’s a great buy.
COST: £1.1 million
I only recently discovered Sporting’s Ilori but he’s now a must-buy player for me regardless of which team I start Career Mode with.
You don’t find many tall, strong defenders who are also very quick – certainly not for just over a million quid anyway – but Ilori is all of those things. The 6ft 3in centre-back is 19 years old when the game starts and begins with an Acceleration of 79, Sprint Speed of 85 and Strength of 78. After two seasons in my save all of those numbers have improved by at least five and his Overall has jumped to 74.
If you won’t feel too bad about ruining Sporting’s defence then why not sign Fokobo while you’re over there? He’s another top defender with a big future. Sorry, Sporting.
COST: £1.3 million
So you know how I just said that you don’t find many tall, strong, quick defenders at around a million? Well, erm, here’s another one.
Cruz Azul’s Nestor Araujo is 6ft 4in, the best part of 200lbs, and he can shift.
Araujo starts the game with 73 for Acceleration, 74 for Sprint Speed and a jumbo 90 for Strength, which all climb significantly in the first few seasons as long as you give him plenty of games. I have him playing next to Ilori in one of my saves and the pair of them are so dominant. At a combined transfer fee of £2.4 million that’s the centre of my defence sorted for the next ten seasons.
PAPE ABDOU CAMARA
COST: £2.2 million
Talking of giant players, meet Pape Abdou Camara.
He’s a 6ft 3in holding midfielder that’s also rapid, as he starts the game with 85 Acceleration and 81 Sprint Speed. He’s got great Stamina too, which I find is vital in that position as he’s forever making runs in both directions.
Camara was the most-expensive player I signed for this feature, but like all of the wonderkids here he shoots up in value after just a few seasons of regular football, not that you’ll ever want to sell him. By the time you get to season three Camara will be extremely quick and strong, as well as an expert at winning the ball back.
COST: £1.6 million
I don’t want you to think that I’m obsessed with pace or anything, but it does make a difference to the way players feel when you’re controlling them, which is why everyone we’re looking at here is quicker than average. Vadillo is no different, well, except that he’s a lot quicker than average.
He’s also a fantastic dribbler at the start of the game and can do four-star skill moves, so taking players on is easy and that just gets even easier as he improves.
After two seasons in one of my saves his Overall has reached 74 and, at 19 years old, that has some way to climb yet before he peaks.
COST: £1.9 million
Bruma is a very similar player to Vadillo, but perhaps has even more potential. I have him in season three and his Overall is at 77 and climbing, which explains why his value has rocketed to £8.5 million.
He starts the game with 85 Acceleration, 91 Sprint Speed, 90 Agility and 79 Dribbling, but all of those stats have jumped by at least 7 in my save, which makes him feel great with the ball at his feet. The only real negative with Bruma is that he’s not a particularly good crosser, so I find it better to play more direct with him.
COST: £1.2 million
Marcos Junior is the real star of the show on this list.
After two seasons of my current game his Overall rating has climbed by a whopping 10 and he’s now worth the best part of £10 million, not that I’ll be letting him go any time soon. Having used him in a previous save that I played into the year 2020-something, I know he becomes one of the top forwards in the game.
He’s a CF really but is also comfortable at CAM, which is perfect for my 4-4-2 Diamond Wide as he has all the attributes I like in an advanced midfielder; speed, dribbling ability and decent finishing.
He’s not a very strong player and usually runs out of steam mid-way through the second half of games, so it’s worth having a good back up CAM to come on once Marcos Junior has run a defence ragged.
COST: £1.5 million
Mbakogu is another player that I’ll be signing regularly from now on, because he has all of the attributes I like at least one of my strikers to have… height, speed, power and aerial ability.
Mbakogu is 6ft tall and starts the game with 87 Acceleration, 92 Sprint Speed, 91 Jumping and 80 Strength, which all climb by about 5 over a couple of seasons. I have him at the start of season three and his Overall is 75, so his value has increased significantly too.
He’s great at holding the play up or leading the line and not many defenders beat him to the ball in the air.
Salli is a very different kind of striker to his partner Mbakogu. He’s 5ft 4in and starts with a Strength rating of 35, so you don’t get physical power with him.
What you do get is blistering pace, excellent dribbling, good finishing, a four-star weak foot, four-star skills and the Flair trait as well as the Speedster, Dribbler and Acrobat specialties.
His Overall is already at 75 in season three and he’s still improving nicely, so well worth the £950k he’ll cost you.
So that’s my team of wonderkids. Give some of them a go and see what you think. If you know of any more top young players that I’ve missed, please comment below or tweet them to me @Darren_Cross