Here it is: RealSport’s comprehensive guide to the best players on Football Manager 2017. To keep this list somewhat diverse, we’ve decided to include a variety of players from each position.
It’s worth noting, however, that these are the outright best players that exist on the game. They’re also, obviously, the best and most important players for their respective clubs, so signing them for your team is going to prove near impossible. Your best bet would be to match their absurdly high release clauses –if you have the money-, but even then there’s no guarantee the player will actually want to leave behind their club to join you. You’re going to have to make your proposition extremely financially enticing.
To find these players, it’s simple. Use the scouting tool, don’t set a quick search filter, but order the players by value, with the highest at the top. You will, however, need to turn the ‘show realistic transfers’ filter off as most of these players, generally, are out of reach. Now, starting from the back and working forwards, here are FM17’s best players. As always, we’ve included current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA).
Manuel Neuer, Goalkeeper, Bayern Munich (£39m, £250k p/w, CA 5 – PA 5)
The 30-year-old German phenomenon is, by far, the best ‘keeper you could possibly find on FM17. He’s adept at using either foot, thrives on the big occasions and his agility (18) underpins his game as the world’s most athletic ‘keeper, able to pull of the spectacular. This is underscored, also, by his reflexes (18). He’s also an extremely consistent performer, as you’d expect. He’s fantastic in one-on-one situations (19), he’s composed (20) and anticipates situations well (20), not to mention how determined Neuer is, too (18). Essentially, Neuer popularised the role of the ‘sweeper-keeper’ with his ability to rush out of his area (20) and can distribute the ball fantastically: passing 13, kicking 19 and throwing 20.
One of his speciality traits, in fact, is his ability to use long throws to start counter-attacks. He commands his area well (19), though his aerial reach (14) and jumping reach (15) may let him down somewhat when it comes to corners. Neuer won’t come cheap, however, as he has no release clause in his contract. If you want to prise him away from Bayern, you’re going to have spend upwards of £100m for a 30-year-old, so you may want to opt for a young ‘keeper with high potential instead.
David Alaba, Left-back, Bayern Munich (£47.5m, £165k p/w, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5)
They key with Alaba that makes him so great is that he’s so extremely versatile. Whilst Pep Guardiola was managing at Bayern, he did with Alaba what he did with Phillipp Lahm and transformed him from a left back into a promising central midfielder. His passing (14) and first touch (15) are strong, as well as his technique (15), plus he concentrates (17), anticipates the game well (16), makes good decisions (16) and is determined (17). His positioning (10) and marking (10), however, let him down.
Alaba, too, is fast (16), but it’s his natural fitness (19), stamina (18), work rate (17) and teamwork (18) that make him such a fantastically consistent team player. Alaba would be a great signing given that he’s so versatile. However, like Neuer, he has no release clause and would be reluctant to leave the German giants. It would cost a fortune to pry the Austrian away, though he is 24-years-old and would definitely be worth every penny for his resilience, consistency and performances on the big occasions.
Jérôme Boateng, Centre-back, Bayern Munich (£44m, £200k p/w, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5)
Bayern have one of the best, if not the best, defences in the world and it’s no surprises that the best centre-half on the game is the 27-year-old German Jérôme Boateng. First and foremost, his defending is second to none: marking 18, tackling 18 and positioning 18. Boateng also anticipates the game exceptionally (17) and is composed (16). If you’re looking for a world-class ball-playing centre-back, look no further than Boateng as his passing is 15, decision-making 15 and vision 14. One of his specialty traits, furthermore, is to switch the ball to the other flank. Boateng is strong (18), but, perhaps, surprisingly for a centre-half, he’s extremely quick (18 pace), which means he can bring the ball forward from the back admirably.
He does, however, start the game with a two or three month hamstring tear that means he’s unlikely to pass a fitness test pre-transfer. Moreover, he’s a key player for Bayern and will cost upwards of around £60-70m and you’re likely to have some extreme difficulty in signing him, especially as an English club; he has a short-term preference to not play in England after a torrid spell at Manchester City in 2010/11.
Paul Pogba, Central Midfielder, Manchester United (£54m, £325k p/w, CA 4.5 – PA 5)
Moving forwards, we have Paul Pogba, hands down the best central midfielder on the game. He’s a midfield playmaker adept in either an advanced position, somewhere deeper or that roams freely. The Frenchman’s first touch (19) is second to none, he can pass (16) and has great technique (18). His vision (16), composure (15) and decision-making (12) aren’t spectacular, but he’s still only 23-years-old, despite having been a name at football’s pinnacle for a few years now, so there’s plenty of scope for improvement with some focussed training. Pogba’s best asset, however, is his ability to shoot from range (19), which means he’s a constant threat to the opposition on the edge of the box.
Furthermore, his dribbling (17), balance (18) and flair (19) give him the ability to do the unexpected on the ball and aid his very skilful approach to the game. Signing Pogba would be problematic given that just this summer he completed a world-record transfer to the Red Devils. If you were to make a move for the talented French midfielder, wait for a couple of seasons to elapse, though, even then, you’d likely have to spend upwards of £100m as United will be keen to recoup their initial outlay for a man of his talents.
Neymar, Attacking Midfielder, Barcelona (£62m, £500k p/w, CA 5 – PA 5)
Neymar is, essentially, Barcelona’s heir to Lionel Messi and, for that reason, stealing him from the Camp Nou will be an impossible task. The Brazilian attacking midfielder does, however, have a release clause of £172m, so if you do want to bring him to your club, that’s what it’ll cost. Don’t forget his mammoth £500k p/w wages! However, I can assure you it’ll be worth it; his recent goal-scoring record has been phenomenal, scoring 22 and 24 in the league in the last two seasons. His favoured position is a left-sided inside forward, though he can also operate as a central advanced playmaker or a trequartista up front.
Neymar’s known for his dribbling ability (20), flair (19) and technique (20), underpinned by his speed (pace 16 and acceleration 18) and agility (19). He can cross, too, (16), but he also likes to cut inside from the wings, making him an instant threat on goal with a first touch of 17, finishing of 16 and off the ball movement of 19. His mental stats are solid; composure 15, anticipation, 17, vision 16 and decision-making 15, but at 24-years-old, there’s plenty of room for these to develop naturally over time. If you could make it possible, Neymar is definitely a worthwhile signing.
Gareth Bale, Attacking Midfielder, Real Madrid (£60m, £400k p/w, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5)
Another heir to a throne, but this time it’s Gareth Bale at Real Madrid, seeking to dethrone Cristiano Ronaldo in the near future. Essentially, signing Bale in the immediate future is impossible, given his eye-watering release clause of £861,000,000. However, a few years down the line as Bale starts to age (he’s currently 26) and you may be in with a chance. What a signing it would be, though! Bale made a name for himself in the Champions League with Tottenham in 2010 because of his devastating pace (19), stamina (18), dribbling ability (16) and flair (17). His off the ball movement (18) is great and his heading (19) makes him a threat from set pieces in the box. That is, however, if he’s not taking them himself as a free-kick ability (16) is also pretty solid.
Bale’s biggest asset, in my opinion, is his ability from range. His long shots (19) mean that he’s a threat from near enough anywhere in the opposition half and he’ll guarantee numerous goals per season as his recent scoring record suggests. He also has a knack of popping up with key goals in important fixtures, thus, he clearly relishes the big occasions. He’s adept at playing anywhere across the front three and his finishing (17) also means he’s capable of playing as a lone striker. Bale does, however, have a slight problem with recurring injuries and that would need to be managed effectively to get the best out of the Welshman.
Eden Hazard, Attacking Midfielder, Chelsea (£50m, £215k p/w, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5)
After a poor season by his high standards last year, the 25-year-old Belgian is seemingly back to his best in Antonio Conte’s new look Chelsea side. Hazard is a flamboyant winger than can play anywhere along the front three, as he’s adept at using either foot, in a deeper role in central midfield or on the wing. In my opinion, his best position is a left-sided inside forward, but experiment with him how you please. Good balance (16), pace (16) and agility (20) make him an extremely skilful player on the ball. Coupled with his dribbling (20), technique (18), flair (18) and first touch (17), Hazard is an absolute menace for opposition defenders.
His finishing (13) is average, which means he’s likely to look for the pass rather than attempting to score, but, with a good striker up front, Hazard can get you assists aplenty. Hazard is also a pretty determined (16) and brave (17) player, though his decision-making (13) and concentration (13) could potentially let him down. Nonetheless, you should sign Hazard whatever the price as, at age 25, he can still improve and lead your attack for years to come. Hazard won’t come cheap, however, or easily, for that matter, as he’s a key player for Chelsea and you’ll have to pay well over his £50m initial value.
Luis Suárez, Striker, Barcelona (£44m, £400k p/w, CA 5 – PA 5)
The Uruguayan Suarez, with five-star current ability, is, hands down, the best striker on FM17. Better than Gonzalo Higuaín, even better than Robert Lewandoswki. He has a £172m release clause so is, perhaps, more easily attainable than some of the other top players, but, at age 29, such a massive outlay should be avoided as he will only have a couple of seasons at the very top left in him. Perhaps look to younger options, such as Paulo Dybala (who has 4.5 star potential). However, this is not to say that Suarez isn’t a world-class player as he most definitely is. His goal-scoring record speaks for itself; he scored 40 league goals for Barcelona last year, 16 in his first year and 31 for Liverpool the season before that.
Suarez is the ultimate complete forward; his finishing (18), long shots (16) anticipation (16) and composure (17) underpin his striking ability, but he can also dribble (18), pass (16), has a good first touch (16), flair (18) and technique (17). Furthermore, his determination (19), natural fitness (19), work rate (16) and teamwork (15) all contribute to his ability as a great team player. He does, however, argue with officials a fair amount and his aggression (17) might make him slightly awkward to deal with.
Cristiano Ronaldo, Attacking Midfielder, Real Madrid (£21.5m, £575k p/w, CA 5 – PA 5)
In my opinion, I think signing Ronaldo is one to avoid. The Portuguese international is 31-years-old and notoriously slows down a lot faster than Messi does on previous FM games. With a release clause of £861m and £500k p/w wages, it’d cost you an arm and a leg to bring him to your club and a 31-year-old, no matter how good, isn’t worth that sort of outlay. However, this does not detract from the fact that Ronaldo is the second best player on FM17 to begin with, narrowly behind his long-term career rival Messi. He can play wide left or right, adept at using either foot, or up front, so he’s very versatile. Speed (pace 18) underpins his overall game and he’s extremely naturally fit (19), so even at 31, you’ll still be able to get the maximum amount of games from him.
Finishing (19) and long shots (19) are his best attributes and, like his heir, Gareth Bale, he’s a threat on goal from near enough anywhere in the opposition half. Ronaldo hasn’t scored less than 30 league goals in a season since his debut for Real Madrid in 2009/10. His off the ball movement (19), flair (18) and dribbling (15) make a nuisance for defenders, moreover. Ronaldo is also a massive threat in their air with a jumping reach of 16 and heading ability of 18. In terms of his mental attributes, he anticipates the game well (18), makes the right decisions (17) and is extremely determined (20). However, his work rate (7) and teamwork (6) are disappointing. It’s more a case of get the ball to Ronaldo and he can produce the spectacular, rather than him seeking opportunities himself.
Lionel Messi, Attacking Midfielder, Barcelona (£52m, £675k p/w, CA 5 – PA 5)
Lastly, we come to the best player on FM17, the legend that is Lionel Messi. The 29-year-old has broken every record there is to break, has won the Ballon d’Or five times and is undoubtedly one of the greatest players the world has ever seen. In truth, he might actually be an achievable signing; he has two years left on his contract, is aging a little and has a short-term desire to play abroad and his release clause, for a player of his calibre, mind, is a fairly low £215m. And you’d be getting the absolute best.
His dribbling, finishing, passing, technique, vision, flair, determination, decisions, agility and balance are all an unrivalled 20. That’s not even to mention his first touch (19), free kick taking (19), anticipation (19), composure (18) and acceleration (18). Astonishingly, or perhaps not given that it’s Messi, that’s 15 attributes that are 18 or above. Messi is also a threat from long distances and from the spot (both 17). He’s not as pacey as he once used to be (15), however. He likes to come deep to receive the ball, play one-twos and dictate the tempo of a game, so if you were to play him as a striker, a false nine role would be your best bet. With Messi, it’s worth the signing as you’d be getting the best, hands down.
The other notable top overall players include: Mesut Ôzil, (Attacking Midfielder, Arsenal, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5), Alexis Sanchez (Attacking Midfielder, Arsenal, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5), Sergio Agüero, (Striker, Manchester City, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5), Robert Lewandowski (Striker, Bayern Munich, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5), Toni Kroos, (Central Midfielder, Real Madrid, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5), David De Gea, (Goalkeeper, Manchester United, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5), Antoine Griezmann (Winger, Atléico Madrid, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5) and Toby Alderweireld (Central Defender, Tottenham, CA 4.5 – PA 4.5). I could obviously extend this list on for another 20 or so players, but it’s best you check out FM’s database for yourself.