With Team of the Season just around the proverbial corner in FIFA 21 Ultimate Team, you may be thinking about liquidating that nice squad of yours so that you don’t get stung by all the market shenanigans. Or maybe you went a little too hard on Icon packs and find yourself short of a few bob? (Hey, we can't blame you - that Icon Player Pick was irresistible.) Either way, you still need a team for the Weekend League. Here’s a few options to put together a great team on the cheap.
General squad building principles
Before we dive into suggestions, let’s be clear about how we build squads in FIFA 21 Ultimate Team. First things first, you should put most of your coins into attackers, especially if you are working on a budget. Goals win games and, especially at this stage of the season, you need strikers who can convert chances reliably, because you can bet your last FUT coin that your opponent will have some.
Second, you want pace in defence. We know several FIFA content creators who refuse to even look at central defenders who have less than 80 pace on the card (boostable to 90+ with the Shadow Chemistry Style). Even mediocre attacking players generally have maxed-out pace now, and while defenders can rein in players who are a little bit faster than them, it’s getting tougher. Speed also helps mask your mistakes -- if you have the bad habit of dragging CBs out of defence, speed can help them recover in time.
Next, it's important to build to a formation you know how to play, and don’t be afraid of shifting players around in-game using Custom Tactics presets to get them where you need them to be. Playing trendy formations you don’t know well, or using formations just because they give you the chemistry you need, weakens you overall.
Red Bull athlete Ryan Pessoa says spending smart is key when you only have 500k to spend: "If you're building a squad worth 500k, it’s best to not splash all the money on one top player, but to evenly distribute the coins across the whole team to make sure it is balanced in all positions. The prices of players at this stage of the game is relatively cheap, and there are a lot of options in all positions that aren’t too expensive."
Finally, you undoubtedly have some very good untradeable players in your club by now, some of whom would walk into any first XI. Keep them there! Use the information we are sharing to build around them, rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
With all that said, let’s pick some players.
- Nick Pope (Rare Gold, 82) - The Burnley stopper is a community meme this year, but there’s no arguing with his in-game performance. For as little as 2,000 coins at the time of writing, he’s better than most Icons. Has the vital “Saves with Feet” trait and is too tall at 6’7” to be caught out by most chip shots.
- Andriy Lunin (Future Stars, 87) - He’s a bit pricier at around 50k nowadays, but Lunin’s card is well-rounded, also has “Saves with Feet”, and is tall enough at 6’4”. If you settle on La Liga defenders, he’s a great choice.
- Ibrahima Konate (In-form, 82) - His RB Leipzig teammate Dayot Upamecano was the go-to choice for pros early on, and his reputation and scarceness (Upamecano was in Team of the Week 1!) means he twice as expensive as Konate, who is arguably a better card. Bundesliga and French, which works nicely with Varane.
- Raphael Varane (Rare Gold, 86) - Speaking of whom! The base gold version of Real Madrid’s French defender is seriously overpowered this year and has fallen to a reasonable price as endless promos have theoretically left him behind. This card will still be effective deep in the endgame.
- Joe Gomez (Rare Gold, 83) - Another OP card and he gets a nice link to Nick Pope if you go that way. Like Varane, he’s a meta cliche for good reason.
- Diego Carlos (Rare Gold, 83) - Gomez will feel better on the ball, but this is another cheap card that does the job.
- Alphonso Davies (Rare Gold, 81) - Davies' Team of the Year card is famously crazy, but the sub-2k base version is no slouch either. With base 96 acceleration and sprint speed, you can use a Chem Style to boost his other attributes, and he will be fine anywhere on the left side of the pitch. Comfortable on either foot.
- Ferland Mendy (Rare Gold, 83) - Mendy is still used by pro players even at this point in the FUT season, which says it all. Four-star skills and five-star weak foot, and his base pace is good enough to get away with an Anchor Chem Style.
- Kyle Walker (Rare Gold, 85) - A pricey option for this team, but Walker is as solid as they come, and he will link nicely to Joe Gomez if you take the Liverpool CB. Walker is also popular as a CB himself on 7 chem thanks to his pace and strength.
- Nelson Semedo (Rare Gold, 83) - A cheaper option but nothing to snip at, Semedo is a Premier League gem following his summer move to Wolves.
- N‘Golo Kante (Rare Gold, 88) - The most expensive player in our 'cheap' team, Kante is worth breaking the bank a little to fit into your team. French links slot him in with the likes of Varane, Mendy, Dembele and Martial, but it's his high agility and balance coupled with speed and strong defensive awareness that really make him worth the coins. One of the best rare golds in the game.
- Thomas Partey (Rare Gold, 84) - Cheap at 10k (and less when SBC demand goes down), Partey is solid as an ox and good enough on the ball to do a job. His Atletico card is still knocking around at a lowish price too, despite his summer transfer.
- Georginio Wijnaldum (Rare Gold, 85) - The unsung hero of Liverpool's recent years of dominance, Wijnaldum is brilliant as CDM or box-to-box CM. Stick him alongside Kante or Bruno and he will be quietly excellent. 20k is a steal for him.
- Frenkie de Jong (Rare Gold, 85) - He was more popular in last year's meta, but de Jong is still very good in FUT 21 thanks to a good mix of agility, balance and passing, on top of solid defensive stats.
- Feredico Valverde (Rare Gold, 83) - Valverde is close enough to 'Gullit Gang' (80+ on all face stats) on his base card and he feels like it in-game too. At under 5k coins, this card is brilliant if you can link him.
- Marcel Sabitzer (Rare Gold, 83) - His defensive stats are a little suspect in FUT 21, but stick a Shadow on him and RB Leipzig's Marcel Sabitzer is absolutely fine in the middle as part of a defensive duo.
- Pierre Lees-Melou (What If, 86) - At over 80k on PlayStation, this is not the cheapest card, but Lees-Melou is a phenomenal player in-game, outperforming his already lofty stats. If he gets his upgrade -- which looks likely at the time of writing -- he will join the Gullit Gang too.
- Bruno Fernandes (Rare Gold, 87) - "Brrrrrruno Fernanj!" Whether you play him as a CAM or the more attacking of a pair of sitting midfielders, Man United's talisman is a consistent performer. Make sure to stick him on penalties, too!
- Alejandro Gomez (Rare Gold, 86) - He's at Sevilla now but his Atalanta card is still knocking around too, and whichever "Papu" you choose, he will be fast and delicate on the ball, although his finishing isn't the best.
- Christian Eriksen (Rare Gold, 85) - A cheap Kevin de Bruyne in many ways, Eriksen's vision on the ball is a perfect fit for the meta emphasis on OP through balls.
- Marcus Rashford (Rare Gold, 85) - One of the most overpowered base cards in the game this year, Rashford can score off either foot, has five-star skills and will do a job for you on the left, up front, or played on the right -- even if he starts on 7 chem.
- Diego Lainez (Future Stars, 85) - He's quite hard to link (Mexican, Real Betis), but if you have some La Liga players down the left, Lainez is a pretty cheap way to turn that into a threatening flank. Lesser seen in Weekend League, most people will probably expect him to shoot on his right, but he's left-footed too, which can be handy for catching people out.
- Ousmane Dembele (Rare Gold, 83) - He was one of the most overpowered cards last year, and while he isn't quite the same in FUT 21, Dembele's five-star skills and five-star weak foot, coupled with fantastic dribbling and pace, mean he's still pretty strong and super cheap.
- Allan Saint-Maximin (Rare Gold, 80) - On the cusp of being a little too underpowered at this stage, particularly in the shooting department, we still have a soft spot for "ASM" and his five-star skills.
- Adama Traore (Rare Gold, 79) - He has a two-star weak foot, can't shoot and can't pass, but for raw pace and dribbling, Adama remains fantastic. Perhaps not a starter, but you still can't beat him as a late-game sub to race past tired defences.
- Timo Werner (Rare Gold, 85) - The RB Leipzig alum has been a frightening sight on the FUT Champions load screen since the game first came out, and little has changed. His three-star skills mean he can't 'La Croqueta' past you, but his raw pace means he rarely has to beat his man anyway.
- Ollie Watkins (In-form, 84) - Jamie Vardy was the obvious choice here, but we prefer this in-form, which has better stats in most of the areas that matter. Liverpool fans will be particularly unhappy to see him in your team.
- Anthony Martial (Rare Gold, 84) - French with a strong link to Marcus Rashford, Martial is fast and a good finisher for not very many coins.
- Alexander Isak (Future Stars, 86) - The Swedish flag is rarely something to get excited about when you open a pack, but if you ever nabbed this card then you were laughing. Isak is reasonably cheap at just 80k on PlayStation, has four-star skills and a five-star weak foot, and his stats with Hunter are frightening.
- Alex Teixeira (Rulebreakers, 83) - Possibly a tiny bit slow now (just 98/96 pace stats with Hunter), Teixeira is still a lot of fun if you can link him. Very high agility and decent composure for a low-rated card means he will manoeuvre into shooting positions with ease, assuming he hasn't left the defence for dead anyway.
Our cheap team of choice
We've listed a bunch of players there, but if we had to build a single team out of them, how would we do it? It's a fair question, so here's our stab at a fun answer.
- Cost: 500k on PlayStation, 425k on Xbox
- Formation: 4-3-3 (3)
- Chemistry: 100
- Manager: English/La Liga or French/Premier League
- GK: Andriy Lunin (Future Star)
- Defence: Ferland Mendy, Diego Carlos, Raphael Varane, Youcef Atal (In-Form, not a cheap card but great for chem to Lees-Melou and can move to winger if needed)
- Midfield: Alejandro Gomez, Pierre Lees-Melou (What If), N'Golo Kante
- Attack: Ousmane Dembele, Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford
- Substitutes: Whatever untradeables are lying around the club!
In-game, we play 4-4-2, with Lees-Melou and Kante in midfield, Dembele and Gomez on the wings, and Martial and Rashford up top. Marcus Rashford is the only player off-chem, starting on 7, but with a Hunter he should still be imperious at striker.
Not everyone will agree with our choices, but that's the fun of it. The point is that this team would be perfectly serviceable securing Gold 3/2 in Weekend League, even at this point of the FUT cycle. Good luck with yours!