FM 17: Top Ten Young Italian Players

Looking for the best young Italian players to improve your FM 17 Sqaud? Check out our top 10 picks.

oliver stein by Oli Stein

Since these players play in Europe, the quality of the league may be incorporated into their values, hence don’t expect the same level of prices as young talent coming out of the South American leagues. Nonetheless, if you do manage to persuade these clubs to sell, you’ll be acquiring some top-drawer talent. Since these aren’t necessarily wonderkids, we’ve upped the age limit slightly here to be able to include players of age 22 so we can have a list of higher quality for you to choose from. As always, we’ve included each player’s age, value, position, club, wage, current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA).

Gianluigi Donnarumma, 17, GK, AC Milan (£7m, £ p/w, CA 3 – PA 5)


Even at 17-years-old, Donnarumma has already established himself as Milan’s first choice ‘keeper and he’s, understandably, been touted as Gianluigi Buffon’s long-term successor for both Juventus and Italy. With such great expectation placed on the youngster, it’s going to be challenging to pry him away from Milan and Serie A in general, though his scouting report suggests Donnarumma may be available for around £25m. He’d be well worth the money since his reflexes (16), one-on-ones (14), handling (15) and command of area (15) are already of first-team standard. Moreover, he’s hard-working (12), has a good understanding of positioning (13), determined (19) and brave (15), attributes that will serve him well as a goalkeeper and more generally in terms of his future development. Donnarumma is an ambitious personality and would be a good fit for clubs chasing titles. 

Alessio Romagnoli, 21, CD, AC Milan (£12m, £61k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4) 


Another young Italian to emerge out of Milan in recent years, Romagnoli will be hard to persuade to leave the San Siro as the club don’t want to sell the player, perhaps requiring a fee in excess of £50m. Plus, he’s on large wages so won’t come cheaply in that sense. However, a worthwhile signing he’d be most certainly. Best served as a ball-playing centre-back, he’d fit in well with a possession-based team that encourages their defenders to play out from the back. This is because of his passing (13), decision-making (12) and composure on the ball (14). Moreover, in terms of his base attributes for a defender, Romagnoli impresses with his tackling (16), marking (16), heading (15) and positioning (15). He’s also determined (15), hard-working (13) and anticipates the game well (16) even at a young age. Overall, a fantastic young centre-back that is worth the outlay.

Daniele Rugani, 21, CD, Juventus (£12m, £30.5k p/w, CA 3 – PA 5)


Italy is the home of defensive resoluteness, the national team famous for its impenetrable back three of Chiellini, Barzagli and Bonucci, but fast forward a couple of years and Rugani will surely have a spot in the Italy back three, alongside Romagnoli. Like his compatriot, Rugani won’t come cheap having even though he’s still a rotation option at the Italian champions, Juventus. However, he’d be worth the persistence as he, too, is another great, young ball-playing centre-back, with his passing (13), vision (13) and composure (14). More importantly, his defensive attributes are strong: heading 15, marking 14, tackling 14 and positioning 16. He also has high anticipation (16), determination (14), strength (14) and concentration (15), all attributes that will serve him well going forwards. If you somehow managed to sign Rugani and Romagnoli, it’s the centre-back partnership dreams are made of.

Pablo Maffeo, 18, RB, Manchester City (£475k, £5k p/w, CA 2 – PA 5)


You know City’s young right back, Pablo Maffeo, can go on to achieve greatness because of his 18-rated determination, an attribute that certainly will underpin any future success the youngster may achieve. His crossing isn’t yet up to scratch, so if you were to sign him, I recommend playing him as a defensive fullback, or a fullback with the ‘defend’ duty set for his position. This is because he’s strong in the tackle (12), has decent marking (11) and an understanding of correct positioning (11). All of these, though, with some focussed training, will improve in the future. Whilst Maffeo isn’t the quickest fullback (12), he can dribble (13), another attribute that will grow over time. Whilst City won’t be too keen on selling their young star, a starting value of £475k means he shouldn’t cost as much as other young Italians.

Danilo Cataldi, 21, DM/CM, Lazio (£6.25m, £24.5k p/w, CA 3 – PA 5)


In my opinion, the most appealing aspect of signing Cataldi, the 21-year-old from Lazio, is that his attributes make him a general all-round midfielder than can play in a variety of roles, such as box-to-box midfielder, deep-lying playmaker, advanced playmaker or ball-winning midfielder. For example, his tackling (12), work rate (15), positioning (14) and teamwork (16) make him solid as a defensive option, but his passing (13), vision (13) and composure (13) make him equally as capable in a more creative position. Likewise does his first touch (14), technique (14), dribbling (12) and long shots (14). Underpinning all of this, however, is his determination (16), meaning Cataldi certainly has the self-motivation and desire to improve himself as his career progresses.

Rolando Mandragora, 19, DM/CM, Juventus (£1.3m, £6.25k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 5)


Like Cataldi, Rolando Mandragora, the 19-year-old Juventus prodigy, can play in a number of different roles from defensive midfielder or central midfield, such as regista, deep-lying playmaker or roaming playmaker. For instance, to fulfil the regista role effectively, Mandragora would need solid ball-playing attributes, such as passing (14), technique (13), first touch (14), vision (13) and decisions (15). Mandragora, moreover, can tackle (14), mark (16) and is fairly brave (12). These are all impressive attributes for a 19-year-old and, given that he’s still a member of Juventus’s U20 squad, he might be easier to persuade to leave than other, more expensive targets.

Matteo Politano, 22, AM RL, Sassuolo (£7.25m, £9.25k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4.5)


Italy aren’t best known for their wide, attacking talent, but Sassuolo’s youngster, Matteo Politano, breaks this mould and has been touted as a future Italy national team player. Whilst he’s somewhat competent in a central attacking position, he’s best suited to playing either as a left or right-sided inside forward. This is because of his physical attributes, such as his pace (15), acceleration (15) and agility (15), making him a hard to mark winger. Coupled with his flair (14), he has a skilful approach to the game. Moreover, Politano is a particularly technical winger, with his crossing (14), dribbling (14), passing (12), technique (14) and first touch (13). Although he’s determined (13), Politano isn’t the most ambitious of players and will have to do a fair amount of fitting in if he’s to succeed at a truly high-level club.

Federico Bernardeschi, 22, AM RLC, Fiorentina (£14m, £30.5k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4)


Finally, there’s player making the list capable of playing in a number ten role behind the striker. Although Fiorentina’s 22-year-old attacking midfielder is a natural right-sided inside forward, he’s very capable of playing as a central advanced playmaker. This is because of his impressive dribbling (16), first touch (16), passing (14) and technique (17). To supplement his technical ability, Bernardeschi has a large amount of flair (17), vision (13), determination (13) and composure (13). Physically, he’s fairly agile (14), quick (15) and accelerates well (15). He will cost the best part of £30m, however, so don’t expect him to come cheaply.

Domenico Berardi, 21, AM R/ST, Sassuolo (£16.5m, £30.5k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4)


The most expensive player on my list and for valid reason as Domenico Berardi has long been an established young talent on past Football Manager games; anybody that’s signed him in the past will be aware of his massive goal-scoring potential, whether played as a wide inside forward or a complete forward up front. Technically, Berardi is outstanding for a 21-year-old and is very well-rounded from an attacking perspective. He can cross (15), dribble (14), finish (15) and pass (14), which is underpinned by his great technique (15) and first touch (15). Berardi, moreover, has a great amount of flair (15), meaning he has the ability to do the unexpected to get past his marker. Coupled with his pace (15), acceleration (16) and agility (15), Berardi has all the makings to become a serious talent in the future, if he’s not already considered to be on that level already. He’ll likely cost in excess of £40m, but believe me when I say he’s truly worth the outlay.

Andrea Belotti, 22, ST, Torino (£11.5m, £24.5k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4)


A different sort of player to Berardi, but a potentially great striker, nonetheless. Instead of having significant versatility, Belotti, the 22-year-old at Torino, is particularly good at what he does as an advanced forward. Physically, he has all the right attributes to succeed in the position; he’s strong (16), quick (15), balanced (16) and agile (13). Mentally, he’s brave (16), determined (16) and hard-working (16), all of which are attributes that can’t be taught through training, they’re developed naturally through the player. His off the ball movement (15), too, aids his general play up front. From a technical standpoint, Belotti has the makings to excel as a striker. His passing (13) means he can effectively bring teammates into play, his heading (15) provides a threat in the air, plus he can dribble (13) and, most importantly, finish (15) to be able to carve out his own chances if his support aren’t providing enough. He’d cost much less than Berardi would and, perhaps, should be considered on a par with his Sassuolo compatriot if you’re looking for a talented young striker.

Know any other great young Italian players? Let us know in the comments.

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Oli Stein

Oli graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in History and has worked with RealSport since September 2016. Currently assistant football editor and Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @steinoliver_