It has been a rocky journey at times, but Career Mode in the FIFA series is now one of the most popular ways to play the game after You Know What Mode. For FIFA 22, EA has updated Career with a bunch of new features, including the ability to create your own club from scratch for the first time, so there is a lot of hype around it! If you want to really enjoy Career though, then you need to recruit wisely, so it pays to understand players' potential.
Defences win titles, so looking for players in goal and defence who can be the bedrock of a long-term project is especially helpful
"Signing young players with high potential for their future is a great way to invest your club's resources efficiently in Career mode," says Ryan Pessoa. "Defences win titles, so looking for players in goal and defence who can be the bedrock of a long-term project is especially helpful. It will be tempting to favour the big names as they are more talented from day one, but a mix of youth and experience is probably the best balance."
A lot of player ratings have been finalised now ahead of FIFA 22's launch on September 27, so it's already possible to see where you might like to put your money. Here's a look at some of the best options for the critically important goalkeeping and defensive positions of your FIFA 22 Career Mode team. All of these players will be 21 years old or younger at the start of the game, and most are under 20. Good luck!
Alphonso Davies (LB) - Bayern Munich - Potential Rating 89, Current Rating 82
Some players on this list will be little known to anyone outside football game career modes, but Alphonso Davies obviously needs no introduction. Already a Champions League and multiple Bundesliga winner with Bayern Munich, the Canadian left-back is a marauding presence on the flank who also plays well dropping back to protect his team's goal.
Bukayo Saka (LB) - Arsenal - PR 88, CR 80
Arsenal fans don't have a lot of reasons to be cheerful going into the 2020-21 season, but Bukayo Saka is definitely one. The immensely talented young full-back is another who likes to play on the attack, and his strong performances in the summer made him part of the squad that took England to the final of Euro 2020.
Jarrad Branthwaite (CB) - Everton - PR 84, CR 66
Last year, 19-year-old Branthwaite's promising loan spell with Blackburn Rovers prompted his parent club Everton to offer an extended contract until 2023. He's already part of the England youth setup, representing the Under 20s in a 6-1 victory over Romania U20s at St. George's Park back in August. At 6'5", he is a serious presence in any defence.
Josko Gvardiol (LB) - Dinamo Zagreb - PR 87, CR 75
Already a full international for Croatia at just 19 years of age, Gvardiol now plays for RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga. He was most recently seen in the team's topsy-turvy 6-3 Champions League defeat to Manchester City at the Etihad.
Luca Netz (LB) - Hertha Berlin - PR 85, CR 68
German youth international Luca Netz is currently plying his trade for Borussia Mönchengladbach in the Bundesliga, having begun his career in the Hertha Berlin setup, graduating from Hertha BSC II to the first team. Despite playing at left-back, he has already netted five goals for the German youth national team setup. One for the future, for sure...
Nuno Mendes (LWB) - PSG - PR 88, CR 78
In all the headlines about Messi, Ramos, Wijnaldum and the rest of their summer spending, the arrival of Nuno Mendes from Sporting CP flew under the radar. On a season-long loan with an option to buy, the speedy left wing back has great potential in Career Mode.
Sergiño Dest (RB) - Barcelona - PR 85, CR 76
Everything's been falling apart at Barcelona lately, but if you have Dest in your starting line-up then you can at least rely on solidity at right back. The American international followed a familiar path from Ajax to Barca in 2020 and has been a mainstay ever since. He's also survived the recent wage bill-slashing efforts of a Board desperate to find financial balance.
Wesley Fofana (CB) - Leicester City - PR 86, CR 78
The Premier League boasts an embarrassment of talented French centre-backs this year, not least since Raphael Varane decided to trade in sunny Spain for a late-career stint at Old Trafford. But despite being the youngest of a talented bunch at just 20 years old, Wesley Fofana is no slouch. He was solid for Saint-Etienne over two seasons, and has been a vital cog in the Leicester City machine under Brendan Rodgers, making it to European competition and nearly the Premier League top four. He's also been capped three times for the French U21s in a competitive environment.
Behind the defence, you'll also need a solid keeper. Here are two we've earmarked for your consideration...
Illan Meslier (GK) - Leeds United - PR 85, CR 77
Leeds United's French goalkeeper is still only 21 years old. After early success with Lorient, he went to Leeds on loan and they made his move permanent after promising performances in cup competitions. Known for his penalty-stopping prowess, Meslier is a player who will probably keep climbing the rankings in years to come.
Maarten Vandevoordt (GK) - KRC Genk - PR 87, CR 71
We don't know what the goalkeeper meta will be for FIFA 22 yet, but at 6'2", Belgian stopper Maarten Vandevoordt should be able to reach speculative lobbed shots and crosses, at the very least. Apart from being a regular for Genk, Vandevoordt is notable for being the youngest goalkeeper ever to play in the Champions League at just 17 years and 287 days, when Genk took on Napoli in December 2019. He probably doesn't like to be reminded of the 4-0 scoreline, however.