GFX Davies Sancho Fati CompositeGetty/Goal

FIFA 21 best young players: Career mode’s top strikers, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers


Career Mode is one of the most popular game modes and also the most challenging in FIFA each year and that has not changed for FIFA 21.

This year's management mode has the option to make transfers more realistic - so you won't see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo moving to Man City in the first window - meaning that finding hidden gems and unearthing wonderkids is even more important than in the past.

The new player growth and player development improvements in FIFA 21 Career Mode mean that you can guide and shape your youth players into superstars exactly they way you want, giving them new roles and even new positions that best suit your tactics and their strengths.

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To help get you started on your Career Mode journey, Goal has compiled a list of the best young players in FIFA 21. These are the players aged 20 or under who have the highest potential rating in the game and are divided by position in the lists below.

All players are listed by their main position, but any position they can play is shown. For example, Mason Greenwood is listed as a midfielder as his primary position is RM, but he can also play as ST. The new player growth options also mean that you could easily train him to be a RW, CF or even LM in the Squad Hub

This list of best young players includes every player with a high potential rating, not just superstars like Erling Haaland or Joao Felix, but also lesser-known players that may be available at lower prices and may even be willing to move to teams in lower leagues.

All players need the right training and lots of gametime to ensure they develop properly and reach their full potential. Substitutes and reserve players will not improve as well if they do not get minutes.

PO. = Position(s)

CR = Current Rating

PR = Potential Rating

VA. = Value

*Clubs listed are the clubs the players are assigned to in FIFA 21 Career Mode, while ages shown are the age at the start of Career Mode

FIFA 21: Best Young Goalkeepers

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M Vandevoordt18GenkGK6887£1.4m
L Chevalier18LilleGK6183£430k
N Mantl20UnterhachingGK6983£1.8m
C Fruchtl20Bayern Munich IIGK6683£1.1m
F Jorgensen18VillarrealGK6282£475k
M Carnesecchi20AtalantaGK6682£1.1m
G Bazunu18Man CityGK6082£360k
Diogo Costa20PortoGK7082£2.3m
J Olschowsky18Borussia M'gladbachGK6381£560k
S Bajic18Saint-EtienneGK6281£475k
Ivan Martinez18OsasunaGK6081£360k
K Scherpen20AjaxGK6781£1.3m
I Meslier20LeedsGK6981£1.4m
L Plogmann20Werder BremenGK6481£765k
L Kasten19WolfsburgGK6280£500k
A Trubin18Shakhtar DonetskGK6380£565k
Altube20Real MadridGK6380£600k
M Kovar20Man UtdGK6480£765k
J Blazquez19Atletico TalleresGK6380£600k
M Roffo20Boca JuniorsGK6480£765k
R Majecki20MonacoGK6880£1.2m

This year's crop of goalkeepers is not as highly-regarded as previous years, mainly because AC Milan's Gianluigi Donnarumma is now 21 and a little too old for this list of the best young players.

However, the best young goalkeepers in FIFA 21 are probably much more affordable as a result, with Porto's Diogo Costa the most expensive on the list at just over £2 million. 

Genk's Maarten Vandervoordt has the highest potential of any young goalkeeper in FIFA 21 and can reach an overall rating of 87. Man City's Gavin Bazunu is on loan at Rochdale at the start of the game, but is relatively inexpensive at under £400k.

FIFA 21: Best Young Defenders

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M De Ligt20Piemonte CalcioCB8592£44.6m
A Davies19Bayern MunichLB, LM, RM8189£20.3m
Nuno Mendes18Sporting CPLWB, LM7287£5.4m
W Saliba19ArsenalCB7487£9m
O Kabak20SchalkeCB7787£11.7m
B Arrey-Mbi17Bayern Munich IICB, LB6086£385k
L Netz17Hertha BSCLB, LM6386£675k
J Frimpong19CelticRB, RWB7086£3.2m
Eduardo Quaresma18Sporting CPCB7286£5.4m
S Dest19BarcelonaRB7586£9m
J Gvardiol18RB LeipzigCB, LB6986£1.8m
L Stergiou18St GallenCB6786£1.4m
J Todibo20BarcelonaCB7586£9.5m
R Ait Nouri19AngersLB7186£4.2m
R James20ChelseaRB, CDM7786£11.3m
O Wijndal20AZ AlkmaarLB7786£11.3m
O Rekik18Hertha BSCCB6385£700k
T Kouassi18Bayern MunichCB, CDM7185£4.1m
M Kana17AnderlechtCM, CDM, CM6585£900k
Nuno Tavares20BenficaLB7285£5m
M Kumbulla20RomaCB7585£9m
Tomas Tavares20BenficaCB7385£5.9m
Eric Garcia19Man CityCB7285£5m
N Perez20Atletico MadridCB7585£9m
B Williams19Man UtdLB, LWB7585£8.6m
N Williams19LiverpoolRB6785£1.4m
J Vagnoman19HamburgRB, LM, LB6985£1.9m
C Riad17BarcelonaCB5984£300k
L Pirola18InterCB6384£700k
K Hoever18WolvesRB, CB6384£700k
N Katterbach19KolnLB7084£3.2m
L Cacace19Sint-TruidenseLB, LWB7384£5.4m
P Schuurs20AjaxCB7584£8.6m
Alex Centelles20ValenciaLB7484£7.2m
Z Vanheusden20Standard LiegeCB7384£5.9m
T Malacia20FeyenoordLB7584£8.6m
E Ndicka20Eintracht FrankfurtCB, LB7484£7.7m
E Ampadu19ChelseaCB, CDM6784£1.4m

It should come as no surprise that Juventus defender Matthijs de Ligt is the highest-rated young defender in FIFA 21 and also the defensive wonderkid with the highest potential. Due to rights issues, Juventus are known as Piemonte Calcio in the game, featuring a new badge as well as new kits.

Bayern Munich's Alphonso Davies has the highest potential of all full-backs in the game and can reach an 89 overall score from his initial 81 rating. Davies' phenomenal speed should also be a huge asset and he is valued at over £20m at the start of the game.

Bayern's reserve side have one of the highest-potential yet affordable players in Bright Arrey-Mbi, who can play in the middle or on the left of defence and is available for less than half a million. His value is low because his initial rating is also low, but this could make him affordable and attractive for teams looking to build for the future and sides that may be able to play him immediately.

FIFA 21: Best Young Midfielders

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J Sancho20Borussia DortmundRM, LM, CAM8793£62.6m
S Tonali20AC MilanCDM, CM7791£16.7m
M Greenwood18Man UtdRM, ST7789£13.1m
T Almada19Velez SarsfieldCAM, CM, LW7389£7.7m
Ferran Torres20Man CityRM, LM, CF8189£23.9m
T Kubo19Real MadridRM, CM, CAM7589£13.1m
F Wirtz17Bayer LeverkusenCAM, RM6888£1.6m
J Bellingham17Borussia DortmundCM, LM, RM6988£1.9m
Pedri17BarcelonaLM, CAM7288£5.4m
R Cherki16LyonCAM, RM, LM6788£1.5m
E Camavinga17RennesCM7688£10.8m
M Ihattaren18PSVCAM, RM, CM7788£12.6m
B Saka18ArsenalLM, LWB, RW7588£10.8m
A Urzi20Atletico BanfieldLM, CM, RM7388£8.1m
Riqui Puig20BarcelonaCM, CAM7588£11.3m
M Diaby20Bayer LeverkusenLM8188£22.5m
P Foden20Man CityCAM, CM7988£17.6
F Pellistri18PenarolRM, RW7187£4.4m
M Caqueret20LyonCM, CDM7587£10.8m
A Hlozek17Sparta PrahaRM, ST, LM7487£8.6m
R Gravenberch18AjaxCM, CDM7187£4.3m
G Reyna17Borussia DortmundLM, CAM6887£1.7m
B Kamara20MarseilleCDM, CB7987£15.3m
D Szoboszlai19Red Bull SalzburgCAM, LM7587£10.4m
N Madueke18PSVRM, ST7086£3.3m
A Vranckx17MechelenCM, CDM6686£1.2m
Gustavo Assuncao20FamiliacoCDM7486£8.6m
Tete20Shakhtar DonetskRM, CAM7586£10.4m
M Solomon20Shakhtar DonetskRM, LM, CAM7386£6.8m
B Gilmour19ChelseaCM, CAM7186£4.5m
G Tsitaishvili19Dynamo KyivRM, LM7286£5.9m
D McNeil20BurnleyLM7886£14m
D Caicedo20Deportivo CaliRM6886£1.8m
N Zaniolo20RomaCAM, RM7686£11.3m
R Sessegnon20SpursLM, LW, LB7586£10.4m
Florentino20BenficaCDM, CM7686£10.4m
Romario Baro20PortoRM, CAM7385£6.3m
Y Demir17Rapid WienCAM, RW6485£880k
Marcos Antonio20Shakhtar DonetskCM7285£5.4m
M Daramy18KobenhavnRM, ST, LM6785£1.4m
Y Verschaeren18AnderlechtCAM, RW, LW7285£5m
X Simons17PSGCM6585£990k
M Kudus19AjaxCAM, CM7585£9.5m
M Longstaff20NewcastleCM, CDM7285£5.4m
R Matondo19SchalkeLM, ST, RM7085£3.4m
O Kokcu19FeyenoordCAM, CM7585£9.5m
H Traore20SassuoloCAM, CM7185£4.5m
E Smith Rowe19ArsenalCAM, RM, RW6985£2.1m
Paulinho19Bayer LeverkusenCAM, RM7485£8.6m
Joe Willock20ArsenalCAM, CM7185£4.5m

After being in the middle of one of the biggest transfer sagas in the summer, Jadon Sancho remains at Borussia Dortmund, meaning that he is sure to be an attractive option for teams with big budgets in real life and in FIFA 21.

The English youngster is already one of the best wide players in the game with an 87 rating, but can get even better and reach the same rating as Lionel Messi - 93.

New AC Milan midfielder Sandro Tonali also has huge potential, but the Serie A side may not be willing to sell him so soon after signing him.

Bundesliga duo Jude Bellingham and Florian Wirtz are probably more achievable signings due to their age and values at the beginning of the game. Bellingham might not be available straight away, but could be an affordable option during the second transfer window.

FIFA 21: Best Young Forwards

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Joao Felix20Atletico MadridCF, ST8193£28.8m
Vinicius Jr19Real MadridLW8093£24.8m
E Haaland19Borussia DortmundST8492£40.5m
Trincao20BarcelonaRW, LW, CAM7891£18m
Ansu Fati17BarcelonaLW, RW7690£13.5m
Rodrygo19Real MadridRW, LW7990£18.9m
Antony20AjaxRW, LW7888£15.3m
J Doku18AnderlechtRW, LW7188£4.4m
J David20LilleST, CF, CAM7788£14m
Luis Henrique18MarseilleRW6787£1.7m
Joelson Fernandes17Sporting CPRW, LW6987£1.9m
Reinier18Real MadridCF, CAM7187£4.4m
K Adeyemi18Red Bull SalzburgST, LW6987£2m
D Kulusevski20JuventusRW, CAM7787£13.1m
M Boadu19AZ AlkmaarST7587£10.4m
S Esposito17SPALST6686£1.2m
G Plata19Sporting CPRW7486£9m
Rafael Camacho20Sporting CPRW7386£6.8m
C Hudson-Odoi19ChelseaRW, LW7486£9m
A Isak20Real SociedadST7986£16.2m
Brahim20Real MadridLW7486£9m
Fabio Silva17WolvesST6985£1.9m
Gabriel Martinelli19ArsenalLW, LM, ST7485£8.6m
H Elliott17LiverpoolRW6585£990k
P De la Vega19Atletico LanusRW, LW7185£4.5m
T Parrott18SpursST6585£990k
B Mbeumo20BrentfordRW, ST7485£8.6m

Along with Sancho, Joao Felix and Vinicius Jr have the highest potential in FIFA 21. All three players can reach 93 overall, but Felix and Vinicius are valued at less than £25m at the beginning of the game.

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland can become a 92-rated striker but his initial rating of 84 overall means he will cost at least £40m to sign in Career Mode.

Anderlecht's Jeremy Doku and Luis Henrique of Marseille start with lower ratings initially, but are both capable of becoming two of the best wingers in the game. They are priced at less than £2m initially, making them affordable options. The new player growth options also mean that you could retrain them to play through the middle rather than out wide, turning them into dangerous striking options.