While a lot of the credit goes to more defensively nuanced midfielders who sit directly in front of the defence, or those with flair who play just behind the striker, the classic central midfielder still has a considerable part in the modern game.
Expected to be savvy with and without the ball, these keepers of possession are tasked with stopping opponents around the centre circle as well as launching the forwards into attack. As such, it’s always good to have a top-quality centre-mid prospect working their way through the ranks.
On this page, we’re looking at the best young central midfielders that you can find in Football Manager 2021, with the wonderkids being ranked by their potential ability in the game.
Choosing the best wonderkid central midfielders (CM) in FM 21
Being given the label of ‘central midfield wonderkid’ means that the player is 21-years-old or younger at the start of FM 21, and has a positional rating of at least 18 in the midfield centre role.
The players must also tick the criteria for having a high potential ability (PA). Ranging from zero to 200, the PA indicates how good the player can become, with each of these MC wonderkids being selected because they boast a minimum of 155 PA.
However, there is also the negative PA scale that some young players use to show their future ability. The PA shown translates to a range of potential ability values as follows: -10 (170-200), -95 (160-190), -9 (150-180), and down to -1. So, we’ve also included all PA ranges from -85 (140-170) and up.
Further down, you can see the top-five best young MCs of the game featured in their own sections. To see the list of all of the best wonderkid central midfielders in FM 21, consult the table at the foot of the page.
Kai Havertz (153 CA / 180 PA)
Best Positions: MC, AMC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 153 CA / 180 PA
Value: £39.5 million
Wages: £150,000 per week
Best Attributes: 17 Vision, 17 First Touch, 17 Pace
Despite only turning 21-years-old in June – just a few months before moving to Chelsea – Kai Havertz had been a first-team regular for Bayer 04 Leverkusen for years. In his time at the club, the Aachen-native tallied 46 goals and 31 assists in 150 games after making his debut as a 17-year-old.
Chelsea won the transfer market arms race to secure the services of one of football’s brightest young stars, with the move costing the Stamford Bridge residents £72 million. The German wonderkid’s talent has already been put on show in the most competitive league in Europe, scoring once and teeing-up two more by his seventh Premier League match.
Football Manager 2021 doesn’t have any doubts about the existing quality of Havertz, nor his potential skill, gifting the young midfielder a 153 CA and a titanic 180 PA. To put that into perspective, only nine players have a 180 CA or greater at the start of the game: Sadio Mané and Virgil van Dijk boast an exact 180 CA.
Havertz is first-team ready from the get-go, so you’ll never need to worry about forcing him into a line-up to get game time. As it stands, the central midfielder’s 17 first touch, 17 technique, 14 passing, 17 composure, 15 flair, 16 off the ball, 17 vision, and 17 pace are his primary assets.
Martin Ødegaard (155 CA / 178 PA)
Team: Real Madrid
Best Positions: MC, AMC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 155 CA / 178 PA
Value: £33.5 million
Wages: £86,357 per week
Best Attributes: 18 Flair, 18 Anticipation, 17 Teamwork
It has been a long road for Martin Ødegaard to finally reach the fabled starting XIs of Los Blancos. Signed under the moniker of ‘Norwegian Messi’ in 2015, he more than deserved the label after making his Champions League debut at 15-years-old (in the qualifying round) and his international debut just one month later.
Real Madrid signed the Drammen-born midfielder for a few million, hoping to harness his immense potential over the years to come. Desperate for more first-team football after becoming the club’s youngest-ever debutant as a 16-year-old, Ødegaard was loaned out to Heerenveen, Vitesse, and Real Sociedad to return to the capital as a first-team-ready player.
Narrowly missing out on being classed as the best central midfield wonderkid in FM 21, Ødegaard’s 178 PA is but a couple of points short of Kai Havertz. However, he does have a superior launch pad, thanks to his 155 CA.
The fleet-footed Norwegian certainly boasts ratings worthy of a starter in the game. While also having decent speed ratings of 14 acceleration, 16 agility, and 14 pace, Ødegaard’s greatest allies are his 16 dribbling, 16 first touch, 16 technique, 18 flair, 17 teamwork, 16 vision, and 18 anticipation.
Eduardo Camavinga (136 CA / 170-200 PA)
Team: Stade Rennais
Best Positions: MC, DMC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 136 CA / -10 PA
Value: £20 million
Wages: £18,914 per week
Best Attributes: 15 Tackling, 15 Technique, 15 Positioning
Eduardo Camavinga made his Ligue 1 debut at 16-years-old in the 2018/19 season, playing seven games. Last season, Stade Rennais deemed him worthy of the starting job in defensive midfield, which he ratified with a non-stop stream of classy performances.
The bona fide wonderkid was a big part of the club’s first-ever qualification for the Champions League, so it was only right that he made his European debut as a 17-year-old. Camavinga has moved higher up the field this season, into a more central midfield, and sometimes attacking midfield, role, to put even more pressure on the opposition in the middle of the park.
Regardless of where each FM save lands on Camavinga’s PA range, he’ll still stand as one of the best central midfielders in FM 21. At the low-end, the Angolan-born Frenchman will have a 170 PA to rank as the third-best MC wonderkid. At the high-end, he could reach an ability rating in the 190s, akin to that of Cristiano Ronaldo (194 CA) or Lionel Messi (195 CA).
At only 17-years-old, Rennais’ top prospect doesn’t feature the most appealing technical ratings column. Still, the 15 tackling, 15 technique, 14 passing, and 14 marking do establish him as a strong, defence-minded midfielder from the start of the game. Regarding his mental and physical attributes, the French wonderkid can already throwdown with the best, thanks to his 15 determination, 15 positioning, 15 anticipation, and 14 stamina.
Sandro Tonali (138 CA / 169 PA)
Team: Brescia (on-loan to AC Milan)
Best Positions: MC, DMC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 138 CA / 169 PA
Value: £10.5 million
Wages: £35,051 per week
Best Attributes: 16 Technique, 16 Work Rate, 16 Aggression
Making his first-team debut in the opening match of the 2017/18 Serie B season for Brescia Calcio, Sandro Tonali returned to the Primavera team, only to be brought back up in the middle of the campaign. Since starting against US Palermo on 27 January 2018, the Italian wonderkid has been an ever-present in the middle of the park.
Tonali continued to improve, further establishing himself as a midfield maestro and guardian of the defensive line, guiding Brescia to Serie A in 2018/19. He put in a decent showing last season, proving worthy of the Italian top-flight and convincing his childhood team, AC Milan, to come knocking. The Rossoneri have a €15 million option to buy Tonali and, given that he featured in 12 of the first 15 games of the season, a permanent switch seems likely.
The 20-year-old from Lodi enters FM 21 with a fair 138 CA and a hefty 169 PA, making him one of the most prized central midfield wonderkids in the game. Compared to the other best young MCs on this list, Tonali may not be too expensive, with the estimated cost being from £21.5 million to £42 million.
In the first season of the game, AC Milan will reap the benefits of having Tonali dictating their midfield. His 12 tackling, 15 passing, 15 first touch, 14 dribbling, 16 aggression, 15 concentration, 14 teamwork, 16 work rate, 15 vision, and 14 balance make him a very well-rounded midfielder to deploy.
Declan Rice (142 CA / 168 PA)
Team: West Ham United
Best Positions: MC, DMC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 142 CA / 168 PA
Value: £26 million
Wages: £29,999 per week
Best Attributes: 17 Composure, 17 Determination, 16 Tackling
Over three years ago, Slaven Bilic gifted an 18-year-old Declan Rice his first-team debut for West Ham United. Hailing from Kingston upon Thames, Rice started his youth career with Chelsea, but it was with the Irons that Rice quickly developed into a Premier League player.
Now 21-years-old, the English wonderkid has already breached the 100-game mark for West Ham, scoring three goals and providing four assists through his first 119 appearances. This season, in Mark Noble’s absence, Rice has even donned that captain’s armband.
Continued appearances in the Premier League will always bode well for a young player in the eyes of Football Manager, with FM 21 grading the midfielder at 142 CA and 168 PA. Primarily a defensive midfielder by trade, Rice ranks among the best young central midfielders in the game.
The London-born wonderkid is already strong enough in the right areas to warrant a place in most starting XIs, with his 16 tackling, 15 anticipation, 17 composure, 17 determination, 15 positioning, 15 teamwork, 15 work rate, 16 natural fitness, and 16 stamina proving as much.
All the best wonderkid central midfielders (CM) in FM 21
Here are all of the midfield centre wonderkids of Football Manager 2021, with the players being ranked by their potential rating. Those with a negative PA are ranked by their lowest possible PA from the range assigned.
|Name||Age||Team||CA||PA (Range)||Wages (p/w)|
|Martin Ødegaard||21||R. Madrid||155||178||£86,357|
|Eduardo Camavinga||17||Stade Rennais FC||136||-10 (170-200)||£18,914|
|Sandro Tonali||20||Brescia (on-loan to AC Milan)||138||169||£35,051|
|Declan Rice||21||West Ham United||142||168||£29,999|
|Michaël Cuisance||20||Bayern Munich (on-loan to Marseille)||128||168||£43,934|
|Florentino Luís||20||SLB (Benfica) – on-loan to AS Monaco||136||165||£16,824|
|Vitor Ferreira||20||FCP (FC Porto) – on-loan to Wolves||124||164||£2,045|
|Arne Maier||21||Hertha Berlin (on-loan to Aminia Bielefeld)||129||161||£17,513|
|Antonio Blanco||20||Real Madrid B||116||160||£4,600|
|Matteo Guendouzi||21||Arsenal (on-loan to Hertha)||137||160||£50,000|
|Ilaix Moriba||17||Barcelona B||120||-95 (160-190)||£11,570|
|Romário Baró||20||FCP (FC Porto)||125||159||£3,443|
|Gabriel Menino||19||SEP (Palmeiras)||124||159||£9,250|
|Weston McKennie||21||FC Schalke 04 (on-loan to Juventus)||144||158||£48,077|
|Ethan Ampadu||19||Chelsea (on-loan to Sheffield United)||128||157||£7,500|
|Imrân Louza||21||FC Nantes||125||157||£9,750|
|Hamed Junior Traoré||20||Empoli (on-loan to Sassuolo)||132||156||£17,788|
|Marko Stamenic||18||FC København||96||156||£1,225|
|Oriol Busquets||21||Barcelona B||130||156||£8,416|
|Mattias Svanberg||21||Bologna FC 1909||129||155||£16,255|
|Exequiel Palacios||21||Bayer 04 Leverkusen||140||155||£55,743|
|Tyler Adams||21||RB Leipzig||131||155||£43,813|
|Jakub Moder||21||Brighton & Hove Albion (on-loan to Lech Poznań)||116||155||£4,000|
|Ryan Gravenberch||18||AFC Ajax||124||-9 (150-180)||£4,700|
|Giovanni Reyna||17||Borussia Dortmund||132||-9 (150-180)||£43,813|
|Dominik Szoboszlai||19||RB Salzburg||140||-9 (150-180)||£4,392|
|Curtis Jones||19||Liverpool||124||-9 (150-180)||£20,000|
|Jude Bellingham||17||Borussia Dortmund||129||-9 (150-180)||£52,088|
|Pipi (Takuhiro Nakai)||16||R. Madrid B||84||-9 (150-180)||£1,300|
Using the table above, you can ensure that the future of your midfield will be as strong as possible by signing one of the best central midfield wonderkids of Football Manager 2021.