FOOTBALL MANAGER has never been more popular than right now.
With the country in lockdown due to coronavirus, plenty of wannabe managers are turning or returning to the legendary game.
Football Manager’s director Miles Jacobson tweeted earlier in March to announce that a record number of people were playing at that moment as the game’s demand soared in the absence of live action.
He said: “#FM20 is currently being played by 84,063 of you via Steam, which is a new record. And likely to go up further today. Thank you for choosing our work to keep you entertained in this time of self-isolation in many countries around the world. Please keep safe everyone x”
Thousands of players are starting new saves, trying to take the likes of Forest Green Rovers and Morecambe from League Two to European glory in however many seasons it takes.
But for those wanting to build a world-dominating team as soon as possible, FM Scout has pulled together some of the best young players in the game with bags of potential.
All these talents are considered future stars and were aged 20 or younger on July 1, 2019…
Gianluigi Donnarumma, Maarten Vandevoordt, Manuel Gasparini
AC Milan stopper Donnarumma is already emerging into a serious talent and is seen as the long-term successor to Gianluigi Buffon's Italian throne. He's 20 but doesn't come cheap with a market value of £28.8million and £184,000-per-week wages.
Then we have two young teenagers. Vandevoordt became the youngest goalkeeper in Champions League history in December when the then-17-year-old lined up for Genk. He's available for around £500,000 and would demand just £3,900 per week.
And the young Udinise goalkeeper will be Gasparini for air as he rockets through the FM stratosphere in the next few seasons. At just 17, big things are expected for the teenager, worth £180k and with a wage of just £1,300 a week.
Trent Alexander-Arnold, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Max Aarons
Alexander-Arnold is already arguably the best right-back in the world despite only turning 21 in October 2019. He is a European champion, world champion and on the verge of becoming a Premier League champion – oh, and he is only the fourth Englishman to start a World Cup match. You'll really need to be prepared to splash the cash to land him, though: a £52.2m transfer fee and then £75,000 a week.
So if money is tight, Bologna's Tomiyasu may be a suitable alternative. Just a month younger than Trent, the Japan international is a fraction of the price, worth £5.8m and wanting just £15,100 in wages.
Looking for something closer to home but not quite the elite right-back? Then how about Aarons? The Norwich star, 19 at the start of the game, has shone over the past couple of years at Carrow Road and would set you back £18.7m and £20,000 in wages.
Dayot Upamecano, Matthijs de Ligt, Alessandro Bastoni
Upamecano, 20, is one of the most sought-after defenders in the world right now with plenty of top clubs chasing his signature. There may have been figures quoted in excess of £70m last summer with Arsenal snooping around but £16.5m would be enough on FM20 as long as you are happy with his £39,800-a-week salary.
Next up is De Ligt – yes the former Ajax captain who brilliantly led his side to the Champions League semis last year and joined Juventus for £67.5m in the summer. The defender – who plays for Zebra Turin in the game due to Juve's exclusive deal with PES – won't come cheap, unsurprisingly: £34.6m up front and then a staggering £201,400 every single week.
But if you are wanting to save your pennies, Serie A rivals Inter have Bastoni – and they only value him at £13m with £9,200 wages. The Italian is only 20 but has tons of potential to become one of the world's best on the game.
Rayan Ait-Nouri, Noah Katterbach, Luca Pellegrini
You may not have heard of Ait-Nouri just yet – but if you Ait a few years you probably will… Beat the crowds and sweep up the 18-year-old French left-back from Angers for £1m and £4,000 a week. Bargain.
Katterbach was born in April 2001 and joined FC Koln's Under-8s before progressing through the ranks to make his first-team debut last October. At £3.7m and £1,700, he's another cheap option.
Finally is Pellegrini – no, not one of the three sons of the former Manchester City and West Ham boss Manuel. The youngster turned 21 in March and signed for 'Zebra Turin' last summer from Roma before rejoining Cagliari on loan. At £6.9m and £30,600, he is a fair bit more than the other left-backs but there is a reason the Italian champions snapped him up early.
Florentino Luis, Declan Rice, Sandro Tonali
Luis signed for Benfica way back in 2010 and is now starting to transform that potential into the real deal. He turned 20 in August but already had his league and European debuts under his belt, coming on for his first senior appearance in a 10-0 thumping. At just £9.2m and £5,000 a week, this looks to be a real steal.
Rice could leave his employers in a sticky situation if West Ham get fried and go down at the end of the season. But on FM, by offering the Hammers £21.8m and Rice £30,000 a week, you can make the 20-year-old the man to control your midfield for seasons to come.
Tonali offers another alternative. The Brescia man, still only 19, may be just £7.7m and after £7,700 a week but don't be fooled: this guy is a serious talent. Likened to a young Andrea Pirlo, he is well on his way to 100 club appearances and made his senior international debut under Roberto Mancici last year.
Sergio Gomez, Eduardo Camavinga, Ryan Gravenberch
With eight years in La Masia and then two at Borussia Dortmund by the age of 19, Gomez must be doing something right – and is arguably at the best place to develop his talent. But if you want him to join your club on FM, it shouldn't take too much persuading. The centre mid starts as an 18-year-old worth just £2.1m and demanding £13,200 in wages. Snap him up. Do it.
Camavinga is the second-youngest player in this list, starting the game at the tender age of 16. But signing him as soon as possible looks to be a wise move – already valued at £3.53m and on a weekly salary of £10,240, the French U21 international is on Zinedine Zidane's radar.
Ajax have produced their fair share of talented players over the years and Gravenberch could well be the next, surpassing Clarence Seedorf's record as the youngest player to appear in the Eredivisie for the Amsterdam club at 16 years and 130n days. He's 17 on the game until May 2020 and can be bought for just £3.3m on £1,500 a week.
Joao Felix, Kai Havertz, Phil Foden
We probably can't really call Felix an unearthed gem… he did sign for Atletico Madrid for an eye-watering £112m for crying out loud! FM haven't valued the Portuguese playmaker, 20 last November, as highly though – £28.47m to be precise with £161,850-a-week wages to go with it.
Havertz is on plenty of scouting radars across Europe with Manchester United, Manchester City and Liverpool all very keen on the German star. He's 20 on the game but you must be willing to stump up £34.4m and £86,320 a week for the Bayer Leverkusen man.
Foden may leave his teens in May 2020 but already has two Premier League titles, an FA Cup and three League Cup triumphs to his name – oh, and he was player of the tournament as England won the 2017 U17 World Cup. His talent is freakish and he is destined for big things in the game – both in real life and on the computer. At £34.58m and £30,000 a week, that could prove to be well worth the investment.
Kylian Mbappe, Emanuel Vignato, Antony
Okay, okay, I know what you're thinking. Yes, Kylian Mbappe. World Cup winner and quite possibly the most valuable player in the world already. If money is no problem, though (kind of ruins the game, though, right?), then you may as well go all out and try and convince PSG to sell the star who turned 21 in December. The bad news is he is worth at least £86m – if not more. Even worse… his £378,400-a-week wages. Wow.
From one extreme to the other and Vignato, who starts the game aged 18, is being tipped by many for great things as well. The Bologna star switched allegiances from Brazil to Italy and for a £900,000 fee and £1,500 a week, he could switch allegiances to your team on FM.
Antony turned 20 in January but is definitely Brazilian. In his first nine appearances for the U23s, he scored five. The wide man plays for Sao Paulo but for £5.3m and £9,000 per week he could be yours.
Pedri, Jadon Sancho, Rodrygo
No, not the veteran Chelsea winger. That's Pedro. This is Pedri. Remember the name. He is the youngest player on this list and starts the game as a fresh-faced 16-year-old at Barcelona. Give it a few years, though, and you'll regret not snapping him up for his £800,000 market value for £4,600 a week.
You really have had your head buried in the sand if you haven't heard of Sancho – seriously, England's future could rest on this unreal talent's shoulders soon. He turned 20 in March but is already one of Bundesliga's standout players. There aren't many better than the ex-Manchester City youngster and for £43.5m with a salary of £99,400 per week, that might be enough to convince him to join.
Vinicius Junior was supposed to be the next best thing at Real Madrid but he has already been overtaken by his fellow Brazilian teenager Rodrygo – on FM Scout's list at least. The winger is worth £6m and on £71,100 at the start of the game so is certainly a very affordable option.
Mason Greenwood, Fiete Arp, Fabio Silva
Greenwood turned 18 in October and has been smashing in the goals since being given his break in the Manchester United side by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer this term. But if you want to Mas him your own, he's worth a big £19.98m in transfer value… but has wages of just £3,500.
If you want score goals to your Arp's content, you could certainly do worse than the Bayern Munich striker who turned 20 in January. He may be only be worth £2.9m – his issues will be the major stumbling block because he's already on £86,320 a week.
Last but by no means least, is young Silva. He turns 17 a fortnight into the new game in the summer of 2019 after rejoining Porto from rivals Benfica. At 6ft 1in he is a real presence in the attacking box and will no doubt score plenty for your team. Get him early doors and he will still be worth just £1.44m and is on… wait for it… just £60 per week!
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