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Football Manager 2018: Best wonderkid strikers, midfielders, defenders and goalkeepers

10 Nov 2017

Football Manager 2018 was officially released on Friday November 10, meaning that lovers of the famous series can now delve into the newest football simulation game.

Sports Interactive has already revealed a spate of new features and some interesting 'Easter eggs' have been discovered by users playing the Beta version. 

However, while the improvements to realism naturally titillate gamers, the simple aspects of the game remain enduringly alluring.

One of those things is identifying and signing the best young players, building for the future and attempting to cultivate a team of stars.

With the game set to hit screens, Goal takes a look at some of the best young players - or wonderkids - in the latest edition.


FM 2018 BEST YOUNG GOALKEEPERS


Unsurprisingly, AC Milan's teenage sensation Gianluigi Donnarumma is one of the best young goalkeepers in Football Manager 2018, but his recent successes mean that he will be a costly acquisition.

Depending on your transfer budget, some of Donnarumma's compatriots may be a bit more affordable, with Alex Meret and Alessandro Plizzari both considerably cheaper.

Young Toulouse shotstopper Alban Lafont is also among the best rated in the position, while Bayern Munich's Christian Fruchtl - identified by some to be the natural heir to Manuel Neuer - could prove to be the biggest bargain of all.

Player Age Nationality Club Value
Gianluigi Donnarumma 18 Italy AC Milan  £13.75m
Alban Lafont 18 France Toulouse £2.6m
Alex Meret 20 Italy Udinese (Spal) £2.4m
Alessandro Plizzari 17 Italy AC Milan (Ternana) £350k
Will Mannion 19 England Hull City £195k
Christian Fruchtl 17 Germany Bayern Munich £190k
Gergely Hutvagner 16 Hungary Sampdoria £97k
Arijanet Muric 19 Switzerland Man City £32.5k

FM 2018 BEST YOUNG DEFENDERS


It can be difficult for a young player to break through as a defender, due to the importance of experience particularly at centre-back. However, there are plenty of prodigiously talented defenders aged 20 and under worth considering in Football Manager 2018.

Ajax centre-back Matthijs de Ligt is probably the most highly rated of all and the 17-year-old's starting value in the game is £5m, which puts him ahead of players such as Real Madrid's Theo Hernandez and Espanyol's Aaron.

De Ligt is not the most expensive young defender in the game though, with Bayer Leverkusen's Benjamin Henrichs and Celtic full-back Kieran Tierney both valued around £10m, while Leicester City's Wilfred Ndidi, who can play in both defence and midfield, is deemed to be worth £24m.

Player Age Nationality Club Value
Wilfred Ndidi 20 Nigeria Leicester City £24m
Kieran Tierney 20 Scotland Celtic £10.75m
Benjamin Henrichs 20 Germany Bayer Leverkusen £10m
Matthijs de Ligt 17 Netherlands Ajax £5m
Theo Hernandez 19 France Real Madrid £4.7m
Aaron 20 Spain Espanyol £2.6m
Nikola Milenkovic 19 Serbia Fiorentina £1.4m
Josh Tymon 18 England Stoke City £750k
Diogo Dalot 18 Portugal Porto £190k
Luca Pellegrini 18 Italy Roma £140k
Carlos Badal 18 Spain Valencia £49k
Diogo Queiros 18 Portugal Porto £49k

FM 2018 BEST YOUNG MIDFIELDERS


Some of the best young midfielders in Football Manager 2018 can be found in Italy and Spain, but some gems are hidden in places such as Brazil, Argentina and Portugal.

New Monaco signing Youri Tielemans is arguably the best central midfielder prospect and his value at the start of the game is just £9.5m. However, considering he has just been signed by the Ligue 1 champions, he could be difficult to lure.

Barcelona's record signing Ousmane Dembele is the most expensive young midfielder in the game. Dembele is followed by Napoli's Amadou Diawara and AC Milan's Franck Kessie, who are both rated at £17.5m.

If you are looking for bargains, the likes of Barcelona's Carles Alena (£1.4m), River's Exequiel Palacios (£1.7m) or Cesena's Nicolo Buso (£56k) may be more appealing.

Player Age Nationality Club Value
Ousmane Dembele 20 France Barcelona £52m
Amadou Diawara 19 Guinea Napoli £17.5m
Franck Kessie 20 Ivory Coast AC Milan £17.5m
Ruben Neves 20 Portugal Wolves £14.25m
Youri Tielemans 20 Belgium Monaco £9.5m
Dani Ceballos 20 Spain Real Madrid £9.5m
Lewis Cook 20 England Bournemouth £8.75m
Rodrigo Bentancur 20 Uruguay Juventus £8.25m
Arthur 20 Brazil Gremio £7.25m
Sander Berge 19 Norway Genk £6.75m
Kai Havertz 18 Germany Bayer Leverkusen £6.25m
Exequiel Palacios 18 Argentina River £1.7m
Carles Alena 19 Spain Barcelona £1.4m
Sergio Diaz 19 Paraguay Real Madrid (Lugo) £1.1m
Nicolo Buso 17 Italy Cesena £56k
Afonso Sousa 17 Portugal Porto £2.5k
Tiago Dantas 16 Portugal Benfica £0.5k

FM 2018 BEST YOUNG FORWARDS


He has been touted as a future Ballon d'Or winner, so it is no shock to see Kylian Mbappe at the top of the list when it comes to attacking talents in Football Manager 2018.

Flamengo youngter Vinicius Junior, who is set to join Real Madrid, is up there with Mbappe in terms of potential, but it will be a number of seasons before you can get your hands on him.

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Manchester City's Gabriel Jesus is among the best - and most expensive - young strikers, while Ajax's Danish forward Kasper Dolberg is valued at £10.25m.

Italy appears to be a hotbed for striking talent, with the likes of Patrick Cutrone (AC Milan), Pietro Pellegri (Genoa), Moise Kean (Juventus) and Andrea Pinamonti (Inter) among the best young forwards.

Player Age Nationality Club Value
Kylian Mbappe 18 France Monaco (PSG) £52m
Gabriel Jesus 20 Brazil Man City £46.5m
Kasper Dolberg 19 Denmark Ajax £10.25m
Patrick Cutrone 19 Italy AC Milan £3.7m
Alexander Isak 17 Sweden Borussia Dortmund £3.1m
Pietro Pellegri 16 Italy Genoa £2.8m
Ben Woodburn 17 Wales Liverpool £2.7m
Johannes Eggestein 19 Germany Werder Bremen £2.4m
Vinicius Junior 16 Brazil Flamengo £2.2m
Maximiliano Romero 18 Argentina Velez £1.9m
Moise Kean 17 Italy Juventus (Verona) £1.8m
Kuki 19 Spain Malaga (Cartagena) £825k
Luka Jovic 19 Serbia Benfica £800k
Andrea Pinamonti 18 Italy Inter £700k
Jann-Fiete Arp 17 Germany Hamburg £455k
Rui Pedro 19 Portugal Porto £275k
Felice d'Amico 16 Italy Inter £180k
Edoardo Vergani 16 Italy Inter £60k

Note: All players listed in this article are ranked in order of in-game value, which is not necessarily indicative of potential ability.

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