Football Manager 2018 Beta has finally arrived and this year’s edition of the hugely addictive football management sim is arguably the best yet.
One of the most rewarding aspects of the game is identifying the next best youth prospect and developing him in to a world-class superstar, but we all know that’s easier said than done.
Those who have played the game from the very beginning will know that a player going by the name of Lionel Messi actually first become the talk of the footballing world well before he made his Barcelona debut thanks to Football Manager, and we all know what happened next in real life.
But who are the next wonderkids to earn a reputation on Football Manager before going on to conquer the real world, and where are they?
Well, we’ve identified five young players who are making their debuts on the game this year and have the potential to become world class players with the right development and guidance – we’ve also given you screenshots of the players so you can see what they’re all about before taking a close look in the game itself.
These players are all very young and you shouldn’t expect them to immediately slot in to your first team but with a bit of patience – and some top coaching, of course – you can be sure they’ll grow in to indispensable stars for whichever team you’re managing on Football Manager 2018…
Sixteen-year-old striker Pietro Pellegri burst on to the Serie A scene with Genoa this season after coming off the bench to score twice in a 3-2 defeat to Lazio earlier in the campaign.
His super-sub introduction to professional football saw him break a number of Serie A records – the joint-youngest player to have featured in a Serie A game, the youngest player to score two goals in a Serie A match and the third-youngest scorer in Serie A history.
Pellegri, touted as the ‘next Messi’ by some in the Italian media, is probably the most ready young player on FM18 to be handed first-team opportunities to from the off, but patience and good coaching will still be needed in order to maximise his true potential.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the youngster’s stats at the beginning of the game are extremely impressive, with his physical attributes in particular looking very good for someone who is just 16-years-old.
English football fans may have already heard of the latest exciting young prospect coming through Fulham’s academy but, if you haven’t, then you’ll be very impressed when you see how good Matt O’Riley can be.
The 16-year-old midfielder has featured for Fulham in the Carabao Cup this season and his impressive performances have even led to Cottagers manager Slavisa Jokanovic tipping him to have a big future at the club.
Having already seen the likes of Ryan Sessegnon come through the Fulham ranks in recent years, it’s only a matter of time before O’Riley follows suit in West London, so it’s worth exploring the possibility of signing him for your club on FM18 this year.
His mental and physical attributes at the start of the game make for impressive showing for someone so young, and you could probably mirror his real-life introduction to first-team football by handing him some game time in the early rounds of cup competitions.
In September 2017 Willem Geubbels become the first player born in the 21st century to appear in Ligue 1, and the fifth youngest player in Ligue 1 history, when he came off the bench on Lyon’s 3-3 draw with Dijon.
The 16-year-old, who is aged 15 when you first boot up FM18, was reportedly contacted by Chelsea over a potential transfer in March 2017.
Geubbels is likened to Cristiano Ronaldo by footballtalentscout.net, while they also tip him to follow in the footsteps of other Lyon superstars like Karim Benzema, Hatem Ben Arfa and Alexandre Lacazette by reaching the very top of the game.
With strong physical attributes and some already very impressive finishing, technique and flair stats for a 15-year-old, it’s clear to see that with the right development Guebbels could grow in to one of the most exciting goal scorers in your FM18 save.
Alessandro Cortinovis is building a reputation for himself as an exciting attacker in Italy’s U17 national team as well as Atalanta’s youth set-up.
The 16-year-old is yet to make a first-team appearance for the Serie A outfit but if he continues to impress at youth level for both club and country it can only be a matter of time before he joins the likes of Genoa’s Pietro Pellegri as the country’s most exciting wonderkids.
Unlike the three players above, Cortinovis will need a little more time and development before being ready for a first team chance in FM18 but his potential is clearly there, as his dribbling, finishing, acceleration and pace attributes show in our screenshot above.
Like his Genoa teammate Pietro Pellegri, Eddy Salcedo is raising eyebrows in Italy with his quality and potential ability at such a young age.
Back in the summer it was being reported that Inter Milan were planning a €60million double raid for Salcedo and Pellegri, which shows just how much he is sought after in Italy right now.
Despite not yet featuring for Genoa’s first team, it seems it can only be a matter of time before he is introduced at the highest level.
His FM18 attributes do suggest he’ll need a little longer to develop than Pellegri but the left-winger/striker more than enough potential there to become an exciting player for the future.
Salcedo and Pellegri’s emergence at Genoa and introduction to this year’s Football Manager suggest Genoa’s academy may be one to keep an eye on when scouting for young players. Can they go on to produce even more as the years go by?
The five youngsters above are the best young debutants in this year’s edition of Football Manager, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more to be found.
It’s worth also keeping an eye out for Bayern Munich’s Oliver Batista Meier, Umaro Embalo of Benfica, FC Liefering attacker Dominik Szoboszlai, Dinamo’s Antonio Marin, 16-year-old midfielder Nicolas Raskin of AA Gent and Argentinos Jrs. striker Gaston Veron.