The one thing that really gets my juices flowing when it comes to new release of FM is debunking who the new stars and best players will be, in this article we will be looking at the real world and trying to work out who the true stars, flops and perhaps even the odd hidden gem will be when 2014 is released.
We won’t be looking at the consistently top players in the world, just those who have changed the most over the last year, both positively and negatively as these are the guys you may not think of.
For die-hard FM fans this part of the game is always the most thrilling, the hours of scouting, searching through the under-18s of every country in the world and filling your scouts diaries with 99.9% of crap, hoping that one of these kids will show some promise, this article will be a great place to start.
Those of you who may be new to the series, perhaps you’re looking at the next instalment to be your first, these next few months will be tough going but luckily for you the 2013 game is available for under a tenor if you’re feeling blue.
Looking back in history its safe to say that those players that are performing week in week out in the daily rigours of top-flight football will be stat-heavy come the next game, it’s also a fair shout to say that those players that have seen a downturn in their performances will be downgraded in the same way but who are these players and how much will they be affected?
Firstly lets look at those people we expect to be the new class-acts come the new game.
Best FM 2014 Players: Our 5 Would-be Superstars
Theres dozens, if not hundreds of players that will be up there with the best in the game but we have focused on those that have changed the most over the last year, those players that were run of the mill or pretty good on FM13 that are bound to be absolute hero’s when 14 is released.
No 1. Gareth Bale
Gareth was good in Football Manager 2013 but this year he will be one of the best on the game, perhaps even in a Barca or Real shirt by the time it’s released.
He has shown on a World stage that he is capable of mixing it with the best and we fully expect him to be given a massive boost. The 23-year-old Tottenham superstar has made 41 appearances this year in the Prem and in Europe with a total of 24 goals and 8 assists including some monumental solo appearances and spectacular goals from distance.
The other key change to Bale’s FM characteristics will be his positional awareness, in 13 he was accustomed to the ML/AML position with ability to do a job anywhere on the left side and fill-in on the right-wing if needed but now, with the free-roll given to him this season he will no doubt be much more flexible and we think his ‘bright-greens’ will stretch to the AMC position too.
Lets have a more in-depth look at his stats:
This is how he starts the game on 2013, as you can see a very good all-round winger and attacking midfielder but by no means a world-beater.
Using Bale’s extraordinary form in the Premier League as a gauge we fully expect his stats to raise considerably from the above. In particular:
Dribbling from 16 > 18
Crossing from 15 > 17
Finishing from 14 > 17
Longshots from 10 > 17
First Touch from 15 > 17
Free Kick Taking from 16 > 18
Off The Ball from 14 > 16
Flair from 11 > 16
Creativity from 13 > 16
Strength from 13 > 16
We reckon that’s a fair adjustment to his ability and one that will make him one of the best on the game, especially if he isn’t playing at Tottenham.
No 2. Marouane Fellaini
In our book Fellaini is one of the best bullying midfielders on the planet, of course he isn’t a massively creative force and isn’t in the same league as his Spanish and Brazilian counterparts, but he offers something else, a towering brute of a man who is capable of using his extreme strength and tenacity to win games all by himself.
I have never been fortunate enough to own Marouane on FM, not to say I haven’t tried (bloody man city), but he is a must-have accessory for a team that likes to play a flat 2 in the midfield. Coupled with either a BWM or a DLP he is magical to watch and scores loads from set-pieces.
In his Everton colours he finished the season with 11 goals and 5 assists in 31 appearances but that doesn’t tell the whole story. Marouane is an inspiration to his team mates and the loyal fans that adore this fuzzy-haired midfielder, he has also scroed some massively important goals in crucial games.
His stats on FM 2013 show his class as one of the best midfield enforcers on the game but we do expect his creative side to be improved as well as some of his mental attributes, heres what we think:
Passing from 15 > 16
Influence from 5 > 14
Creativity from 12 > 14
Bravery from 18 > 19
Flair from 10 > 13
Though we don’t expect a massive increase in his stats, we do expect him to perform vastly better on the game and be able to operate more efficiently further forward.
No 3. Philippe Coutinho
One that could have made the ‘Wonderkids’ section but at 21 Philippe isn’t a youngster anymore, he’s a fully fledged star ready to show what he has in his locker.
Liverpool pulled off this signing last year, it really went under the radar and this season I think the top 4 will be wondering why they were not interested in this impressive attacking midfielder.
Those who have watched Coutinho play for Liverpool know this guy is class, we have been admirers of his talent for many years and its a bit of shame that his Inter Milan career was held back by a manager preferring experience to youth, great news for ‘pool though.
Though not a standout performer last season he showed enough for the scousers to take him under their wing, a pre-season training tour with Gerard and Suarez will definitely help his growth.
He only made 12 starts for Liverpool but quickly amassed 3 goals and 5 assists including some awesome creativity that many fans will be dying to see on a more regular basis next season, he is definitely under the guise of the right manager to achieve that.
Theres loads of room to grow but we reckon Philippe will see a dramatic increase in his stats, followed by an increase in his overall potential, he could certainly be regarded in one of the best youngish AMC’s on the game.
Long Shots from 12 > 15
Finishing from 12 > 16
First Touch from 16 > 17
Dribbling from 16 > 17
Passing from 16 > 18
Positioning from 7 > 13
Creativity from 16 > 18
Everyone has their favourite players, the ones that you have to sign even though there is better or cheaper available, Coutinho is my drug.
No 4. Jesus Navas
Man City have just snapped up Jesus and to be honest I am shocked that it has taken this long for him to be involved in one of the biggest teams in the world.
An explosive winger, mainly right, that loves to cut in. He has really shown his class during his countries journeys to the final of the confederations cup.
Though he is known as not putting in any sort of defensive shift Navas more than makes up for that with his contribution further up the pitch. His problem in the past has been in front of goal, his finishing is not the best but he is often targeted as the ‘main danger-man’ in a team so playing for City he is bound to have more freedom to show what he can do.
In FM Jesus has been a fairly run of the mill player for several seasons, often getting big moves but rarely setting the world alight with his new club but with his recent performances on the World-stage and a big money move to Manchester now completed Jesus is set for a huge rebuild of his stats and performances on the game.
For a winger his stats are already fairly good, definitely better than his new rivals in Milner and Scott Sinclair thats for sure but as a new-be to the Premier League we expect him to be given a nice boost:
Crossing from 15 > 17
Dribbling from 17 > 18
Finishing from 10 > 14
Long Shots from 11 > 13
Passing from 14 > 16
Acceleration from 19 > 20
Pace from 17 > 19
These improvements would really make Navas stand out in the City team and we think that will happen both in real-life and on Football Manager 2014.
No 5. Matija Nastasic
26 games for Man City in your first season, 2 MOM awards, only one yellow card and a pass success rate of 87% as a defender puts you at the top of your game in any team on the planet but doing that at the age of 20 makes you one of the best talents in the World.
Matija is just that, a towering powerful centerback with all the quality of Nemanja Vidic but without his ‘clunky’ athleticism.
Mancini had absolute faith in Nastasic for 90% of the games that he was available for, that says a lot but what will be his fate under the new gaffer at the helm of city?
Either way he is bound to be a must buy in Football Manager 2014 and his stats are set for a major makeover.
Matija, in my opinion will be the second most sought-after young defender on the game behind Varane and is set for a massive upgrade in playing statistics, my guess is:
Marking from 14 > 17
Tackling from 15 > 17
Heading form 15 > 18
Influence from 11 > 14
Off The Ball from 11 > 15
Teamwork from 12 > 14
And an overall 2-3 point increase in most mental and physical stats.
As well as these 5 there’s a few others that are well worth a mention, we anticipate some great strides forward from people like:
- Santi Cazorla
- Leighton Baines
- Laurent Koscielny
- David Luiz
Who Won’t Be Worth Targeting?
Now for as many top-performing players in the Prem this seasons there has been just as many under-performing stars of old, people who didn’t cut the mustard and players that will be due a downgrade come FM 14.
Heres who we think we not be quite as big a force as they have been on previous games:
Wayne has continued to fall in standard over the last season or two, whether that is because of age, lack of motivation or being in need of a new challenge Rooney has certainly lost his charm slightly and we completely anticipate a fall in his skill levels come FM 2014.
Though he still scored a decent amount of goals last season he was often used much deeper than before to open up the position for RVP to take further forward. Looking a shadow of his former-self Wayne has been attracting interest from other clubs and though he has said he didn’t hand in a transfer request, there is every chance he could be moving on to a lesser team than United.
A year ago David Silva was regarded as one of the magical Spanish midfield, now he has lost his flair and lost his way slightly. Partially over taken in the pecking order by Pedro, Juan Matta and Jesus Navas Silva is no longer one of the first names on the team-sheet of Vicente Del Bosque’s team.
David will no doubt still be a very good player but he has certainly dropped in stature over the past season and we fully expect that to be correlated in his stats for the next game.
In the same way David Silva was a modern great this time last year Vincent Kompany was seen as unflappable, perhaps the top defender in the world at the time. But towards the end of the season this previously solid defender started to show cracks in his armour, started making mistakes and was often overshadowed by Nastasic.
With Matija set to be upgraded, Kompany may well have some competition in next years FM for a starting place amongst die-hard FM fans.
In recent seasons on the game Kompany has been making a ludicrous amount of mistakes, is this a sign that in the recent patches the developers have already decided his fate?
Captaincy hit Thomas hard, he struggled and buckled under the pressure of being the clubs leader and this lead to some rather shocking performances on the pitch, this soon lead to him being dropped from the team and no doubt from his captaincy role come the new season.
Though he may return to his former self he barely pulled on the Arsenal shirt towards the end of the season and they looked much better for it, he is surely going to be given a penalty for this lack of game-time, composure and unreliability.
A controversial choice as he has probably just had his best season in his career, but for us and the FM developers it must be about time that he was labelled as a liability.
His on and off the field actions are not marks of a superstar player and I suspect that his levels of aggression, composure and concentration will be adjusted dramatically to encourage this type of irrational play on the game.
For us Suarez is no longer a top-player, though he will no doubt be sold to a massive club, his qualities on the pitch do not overshadow his ability to cause controversy on it.
For a few seasons now Lucas Leiva has been less than impressive on the pitch and is constantly suffering with injuries and yet on the game he has consistently been one of the best DMC’s there is. It’s time this changed, he does not deserve to be labelled with such qualities.
A lot was expected from Shinji when he signed for United, a great talent and a very skilful player indeed but in his debut season he barely did anything more than Ji Sung Park ever did, only without his work rate.
Often described as another way for United to increase their revenues from Asia Kagawa has a lot to prove, but I do imagine he will get more game time this season, he matches the type of mould that Moyes’ likes, for the same reason I see Nani getting less time which will help Shinji.
He was long a good signing on FM and was regarded as a great signing by many this time last year but it hasn’t come to fruition and we think he will be no more than an average attacking midfielder when the game comes out.
Like Leiva, Sandro has long been an FM favourite, he has long been an over-performing and overrated player on the game who contributed little in the real world. It’s about time he was lowered in standard.
There is no excuse for Sandro anymore, he’s been in the country for a few years and is yet to show the potential he once promised. If only he would spend as much time doing good stuff on the field as he does with his hair.
Wonderkids, Where Art Thou Wonderkids: 5 Predicted Stars
For me, one of the most exciting parts to any Football Manager instalment is trying to find and sign the latest batch of wonderkids, those super-human stars of the future that have been identified by the developers over the past 12 months so we’ve been testing our knowledge and have ear-marked a selection of wonderkids that we think will be top-notch and available for all most Prem teams in the new game.
No 1. Lloyd Jones
Lloyd, touted by some as the next Alan Hansen, was signed by Liverpool from Plymouth for an initial £20k and has shone in the under-18′s and been a regular in the under-21 set up years before average.
Commanding in the air but graceful and comfortable in possession Lloyd was handed a squad number by Brendan Rogers for a game against Fulham last term and is widely expected to be promoted through the ranks quickly and make his debut before his 18th birthday this October.
Jones is sure to have caught the eye of the SI developers and could well be one of the game’s top youngsters.
No 2. Alen Halilovic
Dynamo Zagreb’s 16-year-old midfielder is already picking up attention from a host of top European teams with Spurs being the most recent.
Croatia’s youngest ever top-flight player Alen is fast breaking more records and is expected to be one of the top youngsters in the world in the coming years.
Grounded and talented the youngster could have his pick of clubs but has his mind firmly set on growing and doing what is best for his career.
Regularly compared to Luka Modric the youngster is confident on the ball, agile and very skilful. Though slightly light-weight he has the ability to step-aside the rough and tumble of the Premiership.
N0 3. Jordan Ibe
Another Liverpool youngster, this kid is quick and is of a similar mould to Raheem Stirling but with a more physical aspect to his game.
It has been said that Ibe may end up being positioned further forward in the future but is already plying his trade with regular appearances on the Liverpool bench and team towards the end of last season.
Jordan was not particularly recognised on FM 2013, but under the guise of the right manager he was capable of becoming a leading Prem winger and this is only going to get better come 2014.
No 4. Luke Shaw
Although already an awesome prospect and already very good on Football Manager 2013, he is sure to get a big move this summer and that will only increase his stock and profile.
I see him moving to Chelsea or Tottenham this summer with an outside chance of United, if not he will be an awesome signing for any top-flight club in FM 14.
A Premier League regular, Luke is progressing very well and is certainly an all-round left-back. Many have compared him to a young Ashley Cole but I think this boy could be better than that, take the athleticism of Cole, crossing ability of Baines and a more attacking minded Philipe Lahm and you get somewhere near the player Luke turns in to on FM 2013.
Lets hope that is portrayed in real-life too.
No 5. Wallace
After joining Fluminese at 11 years old this right back soon grew in to a cracking youngster and although he has already agreed a big move to Chelsea as part of the deal that took Deco the other way a few years ago, he could be potential loan signing for lower-league or bottom half Prem teams next term.
A fast, tricky and athletic right footed defender Wallace is very similar to Dani Alves but has already shown his ability to defend very early in his career, he has shown his class in the Under 17s for Brazil and is the first name on the team sheet with a full international call up believed to be not too far in the future.
Though potentially not available for the first season on FM 2014, Wallace may be available for loan and those type of player is often available for purchase early on in their careers. He is well worth checking out, there isn’t many good right backs on FM 2013 or appearing on the world scene at the moment.
Until next time
You may have guessed that we are massively excited about Football Manager 14, we love talking about it and if you do to give us your ideas to add to this post and we will get them mentioned.
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