There’s no greater feeling on any football game than nurturing a young player into a first team player and watching them stomp all over the league, whether they’re proving to be a monster at the back, a string-puller in midfield, or a goal-hunter up front.
A young starlet can emerge through your virtual academy, or be picked up for pennies through the scouting system, or they could’ve taken huge chunk out of your budget, but still with so much time and development ahead of them, it’s an exciting feeling to have a squad of ‘tomorrow’s’ world-beaters at your disposal.
However, the hype that surrounds young players, particularly in the Premier League, is overwhelming. One game can transform a career, and skyrocket a young player’s value and reputation, though that’s not always a good thing as the weight of expectation and pressure wears them down.
For this reason it’s hard to get an accurate reading on wonderkids, and an over-inflated price tag also goes a long way towards boosting the public opinion of a footballer, even if they aren’t worthy of it just yet.
Ex-Liverpool player Alan Hansen once infamously remarked that “you can’t win anything with kids” before Manchester United’s young guns fired them to a league and cup double. Here are 10 young players, vastly varying in quality, who will be overrated from the start of the game.
10. Joe Gomez (Liverpool)
Who is Joe Gomez? Well, the 18-year-old defender has recently signed a deal with Liverpool after completing a multi-million deal from Charlton. The centre back was handed a start for the first game of the new Premier League season, in the left back slot.
Gomez put in a very tidy performance, and if this was a signal as to how Liverpool are going to line up in future, Gomez will see his FIFA 15 rating shoot up from 57. The question is, how high will he go? As of this moment, he’s made 21 appearances for Charlton and one for Liverpool, yet his rating will no doubt shoot up to an over-hyped level after his performance and assist during his top flight debut.
9. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Newcastle)
Aleksandar Mitrovic could certainly turn out to be a phenomenal talent in the Premier League, but despite being unproven at the highest level, the ex-Anderlecht man looks a dead-cert to have a huge ratings boost following his big money move to Newcastle and the Premier League.
The 20-year-old Serbian bagged 27 goals last season for the Belgian side, and had already worked up to a 74-rating on FIFA 15. However, Mitrovic’s £13 million switch, and a Premier League debut that saw him booked within 11 seconds for a reckless lunge (as well as avoiding punishment for swinging an elbow at a Southampton defender) will have caught the eye of the EA production team who will rate him highly.
8. Patrick Roberts (Fulham)
Patrick Roberts falls into the Joe Gomez category of young players you’re going to hear a lot about over the coming years. The ex-Fulham youngster only made 19 league appearances for the Cottagers before being snapped up by Manchester City, a team on the lookout for fresh homegrown talent.
The 18-year-old’s fee could rise up to £11 million; a huge sum for any Championship player, let alone for a teenager without real pedigree even if he has shown class. Roberts found himself with a 67-rating on FIFA 15, but after his big move, expect him to tip the 70 mark and possibly even leap ahead of some established Premier League players without even stepping foot into the top flight with his new club.
7. Connor Wickham (Crystal Palace)
Connor Wickham has already seen clubs splash up to a combined £20 million for his services at the age of 22, yet he’s still very much unproven in the top flight. Wickham has size on his side, he’s tall and muscular, but he simply doesn’t use it. Still, he’ll still receive a physical boost on FIFA 16.
Wickham’s one excellent spell came during Sunderland’s great escape where he scored five goals in the final straight to keep the Black Cats afloat. Now he’s landed a big money move to Crystal Palace, it will appear to the world that he has actually been impressive on Wearside when that hasn’t been the case. Wickham was given a 72 last time around, though he’ll jump up in the new edition in a newly ‘fashionable’ London side and could be a wrecking ball up front, rather than his flimsy self in the real world.
6. Martin Odegaard (Real Madrid)
All eyes will yet again be fixed on Martin Odegaard. The 16-year-old turned into a superstar overnight, not particularly for his football talent, but following the news that he would be receiving £80,000 per WEEK for the chore of training alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and the rest of the Madrid squad while lining up for Zinedine Zidane’s youth side. It’s a hard life.
He’s surely a special talent, but that won’t stop his ability and potential being given the glossy treatment after the decision makers see his supreme salary. New Madrid boss Rafa Benitez has already earmarked the Norwegian to feature for the first team during the upcoming campaign, and that will only go further towards jumping him ratings up.
5. Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
The long-overrated Jack Wilshere will once again find himself sitting on an 80+ rating despite offering very little in terms of goals, assists, or minutes on the pitch throughout his entire career. Last season he produced just 2 goals and 1 assist in 19 competitive appearances for Arsenal, an incredibly poor tally regardless of his injury problems.
Maybe the stats do lie, as Wilshere has shown moments of class, but there are plenty of players rated below the 80 mark who can boast to doing the same. If Wilshere was playing in a lower half side, there’s absolutely no way he’d maintain his lofty position. It’s time for EA to drop him down, no matter how unlikely that sounds.
4. Harry Kane (Spurs)
The undoubted breakout talent of 2014/15 was Spurs’ Harry Kane. The youth product came out of nowhere to finish as the team’s top scorer, and indispensable star player. He bagged a sensational 21 goals in 34 games, with just Sergio Aguero recording more goals than the 22-year-old in the entire Premier League.
Now the pressure is on for Kane to replicate his stunning form. His rating was surged up from 68 to 77 on FIFA 15, but you can expect that to be tipping 80 on the new game. Kane looked like the real deal last year, but if he doesn’t take off, he could go down as a hugely overrated player in the virtual world.
3. Kevin De Bruyne (Wolfsburg)
Kevin De Bruyne may seem like an odd choice at the moment, but he could soon see his stock rise considerably. He managed a remarkable 10 goals and 20 assists in 34 games for Wolfsburg. That is an incredible haul by almost any player’s standards, though he failed to crack the Premier League with Chelsea.
Now Manchester City are reportedly on the verge of landing the midfielder for an astonishing £46 million. While he would already be earning a deserved ratings boost up from 81, such an enormous move will see him skyrocket. He could be worth a lot in the future, but that’s a huge gamble for a player Chelsea allowed to leave Stamford Bridge for around a third of the price of his mooted transfer fee.
2. Paul Pogba (Juventus)
I’m willing to be that the vast majority of people who claim Paul Pogba is the next big thing in world football have only ever seen him on FIFA. There is no way millions of teenagers would tune in to watch the fallen Serie A on a regular basis, so they’re basing their opinions on his virtual presence.
Pogba is an outstanding footballer, but the hype surrounding him is utterly staggering, with rumours of a £100 million bids from PSG, Real Madrid, Manchester City and any other European heavyweight with more cash than sense floating around cyberspace. He flopped on the big stage of the Champions League Final, and while he could one day be one of the world’s best, he’s still got a lot to prove. It’s a big year for Pogba.
1. Raheem Sterling (Man City)
Raheem Sterling is the second most expensive footballer in Premier League history. Just let that sink in for a moment. Every single player to play in England’s top flight who isn’t called Angel Di Maria cost less than the ex-Liverpool winger. The £49 million 20-year-old even went for more money than Zinedine Zidane at his peak…
Sterling is a talented player with a big future, but that’s an insane price for a man with 11 goals and 9 assists in an enormous 58 games for club and country last season. Like many players on this list, he should turn out to be a great player but FIFA 16 will see his ratings explode, and with pace like his, he could be one of the most sought-after figures on the entire game, even though he’s not on that level in the real world just yet.