They’re the proud winners of four World Cups, but Italy have been without a tournament win since 2006. Now, the national team is in the midst of a transitional period, with the old guard being switched with prospects.
Players such as Gianluigi Buffon, Paolo Maldini, Fabio Cannavaro, and Andrea Pirlo have all retired from international duty, so Gli Azzurri are looking to their youth in order to build a successful future.
This article lists all of the best up-and-coming young Italian players in Football Manager 2021.
Choosing the best Italian wonderkids of FM 21
To make the cut for this list as one of the best Italian wonderkids in FM 21, the prospects had to fulfil three different criteria. They have to have Italy as their chosen nation to represent, they must not be over the age of 21, and most importantly, their potential ability (PA) must be among the best of their compatriots in FM 21.
The minimum PA on this list is 130 or -8. If the players have a minus attribute, it means that they will start every game with a PA from within their given range. On this list, you will find PA ranges from ratings of -9 (150-180), -85 (140-170), and -8 (130-160).
We have ranked players with a PA range by order of their lowest possible attribute, so a player with 131 PA will rank higher than one with a -8 PA, and so on.
Below, you’ll find the best young Italian players in the game, with the top five FM 21 wonderkids from Italy being featured in this article.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (156 CA / 182 PA)
Team: AC Milan
Best Position: GK
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 156 CA / 182 PA
Value: £23 million
Wages: £195,068 p/w
Best Attributes: 18 Reflexes, 18 Jumping Reach, 16 One on Ones
To be the first-choice goalkeeper of any international team at the age of 17-years-old – the record for the youngest-ever Italian goalkeeper – is an impressive feat on is own. Gianluigi Donnarumma made his debut for AC Milan at just 16-years-old. Since then, he has become the hottest goalkeeping prospect in world football, making 219 appearances and keeping 78 clean sheets for I Rossoneri, becoming the club’s vice-captain in the process.
Since making his international debut in 2016, Donnarumma has become a vital part of the national team, with legendary Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon touting him to be the heir to his throne. Buffon was not wrong, and Donnarumma has gone on to make 22 appearances for his country so far. Donnarumma has conceded six goals in nine games this season, keeping four clean sheets. Truly one of the world’s brightest talents, this Italian wonderkid has a big future ahead of him.
On FM 21, Donnarumma can become your immediate first-choice goalkeeper. With ratings of 18 reflexes, 18 jumping reach, 16 one-on-ones, 16 anticipation, 16 agility, and 16 aerial reach, the young Italian is more than comfortable playing in the FM-favoured sweeper-keeper role. With his 182 PA, these ratings will only increase with age.
Being such a tremendous talent does come with some drawbacks for interested clubs. If you do manage to settle on a fee with AC Milan, which is likely to be in the region of £100 million, this Italian wonderkid will want wages of around £200,000 per week. While this would certainly put a dent in your transfer balance, you will be rewarded with a top-class goalkeeper for years to come.
Nicolò Zaniolo (150 CA / 176 PA)
Team: AS Roma
Best Position: AMC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 150 CA / 176 PA
Value: £19.75 million
Wages: £81,278 p/w
Best Attributes: 18 Determination, 17 Aggression, 16 Dribbling
After making 19 appearances and scoring 14 goals for Inter Milan’s youth team, AS Roma decided that they wanted to bring the young, creative Nicoló Zaniolo to the Stadio Olimpico. Since then, Zaniolo has become one of the hottest prospects in the Italian game, putting up an impressive 14 goals and six assists in just 69 games for AS Roma. Zaniolo has yet to make an appearance for Roma this season due to a cruciate ligament rupture ruling him out until around March 2021.
Since joining I Giallorossi, Zaniolo has been handed his first senior international cap – an opportunity that he’s taken with both hands. He now finds himself with seven caps, two goals, and one assist. Zaniolo has been given lots of game time since his arrival on the scene, and one can only imagine the heights that this young Italian wonderkid will reach in his career.
Zaniolo possesses 18 determination, 17 aggression, 16 dribbling, 16 finishing, 16 technique, 16 pace, and 16 off the ball at the start of FM 21. As such, he can be deadly if utilised as a shadow striker, or in any other attacking position which allows him the freedom to roam around the pitch. Boasting 15 long shots and 14 decisions, it is likely that the Massa-native will find plenty of success scoring goals from a distance.
With a 176 PA, Zaniolo is a true wonderkid and is destined to be a player of real world-beating ability in FM 21. However, due to his injury, he will likely not pass a fitness test if you attempt to sign the player in the first season. So, you will possibly have to wait until the second season to secure his signature. With a reluctant-to-sell Roma, you will likely be paying a substantial fee to secure this Italian wonderkid’s services.
Alessandro Bastoni (146 CA / 169 PA)
Team: FC Internazionale
Best Position: DC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 146 CA /169 PA
Value: £14 million
Wages: £48,766 p/w
Best Attributes: 16 Jumping Reach, 15 Heading, 15 Marking
Another young Italian who has been commanding the attention of teams around the globe is Inter Milan’s Alessandro Bastoni. Following a season out on-loan to Parma, he has returned to his parent club, making 47 appearances for I Nerazzurri since manager Antonio Conte decided that he was good enough to compete for his place in the team.
Since being gifted his international debut by Albercio Evani in November 2020, he has gone on to represent Gli Azzurri on three occasions. Being only 21-years-old, Bastoni is set to become one of the mainstays in the Italian national team for years to come.
A rock at the back with 16 jumping reach, 15 marking, 14 tackling, 14 anticipation, and 14 passing Bastoni is very well suited to the ball-playing defender role. If given the right development and training in FM 21, reaching his impressive 169 PA could make him your club’s first-choice centre back.
Wanting a wage of around £80,000 per week, this Italian wonderkid looks set to be an expensive transfer for your club. As he’s valued at £14 million, you may be looking at parting ways with a fee in the region of £50 million. That said, with this player being destined for a career in the first-team and the Italian national team, your money would be well spent on Bastoni.
Sandro Tonali (138 CA / 169 PA)
Team: Brescia (on-loan to AC Milan)
Best Position: DM, MC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 138 CA / 169 PA
Value: £10.25 million
Wages: £65,000 p/w
Best Attributes: 16 Technique, 16 Work Rate, 16 Aggression
A favourite of Football Manager players, Sandro Tonali’s addition to this list will come as a surprise to few. Making his debut for Brescia at just 17-years-old, it was clear to see that Tonali would go on to have a long, illustrious career. Sought by Europe’s elite for some time, AC Milan managed to secure his services on a one-year loan deal, which will likely end up becoming a permanent deal.
Tonali made 89 appearances for boyhood club Brescia, scoring six goals and assisting his teammates on 16 occasions, becoming a fan-favourite in the process. With stats and form as impressive as this for a 20-year-old, it isn’t a surprise that he has been given four caps at the senior international level, looking set to become a key player in the Italian national team for years to come.
Capable of playing in the centre of midfield or further back to guard the defence, Tonali has a strong set of ratings which includes 16 aggression, 16 technique, 16 work rate, 15 vision, 15 concentration, 15 passing, 15 first touch, and 15 determination. Furthermore, Tonali could be your club’s set-piece taker, with his 14 corners and 14 free-kick taking allowing you to utilise his right foot in most dead ball situations.
Despite the praise piled upon the Italian wonderkid, his wage demands of £36,500 per week are modest considering his CA and, more importantly, his 169 PA. While Tonali is out on-loan to AC Milan for the first season, you may be able to secure his signature during the 2020/21 campaign, with Brescia asking for a fairly minimal fee of around £20 million to £40 million.
Luca Pellegrini (135 CA / 160 PA)
Team: Juventus (on-loan to Genoa)
Best Position: DL, WBL
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 135 CA / 160 PA
Value: £5.75 million
Wages: £25,577 p/w
Best Attributes: 17 Aggression, 15 Crossing, 15 Balance
Off of the back of an impressive loan spell at Cagliari, where he made 36 appearances and assisted seven goals, Luca Pellegrini finds himself out on-loan again this season with Genoa. This Coppa Italia and Supercoppa winner is currently one of the first names on the team sheet for Genoa, making ten appearances and assisting one goal so far this season.
If he continues his consistent form whilst out on-loan, it probably won’t be long until this young Italian finds himself playing in the first-team for one of the top clubs in Serie A. Playing as well as he has done in recent years, Pellegrini was handed his first senior cap for the Italian national side.
Capable of playing further forward in Football Manager 21, Pellegrini can be developed into a quality player anywhere down the left-hand side of the pitch. With 17 aggression, 15 crossing, 15 balance, 15 work rate, 14 first touch, and 14 off the ball ratings at the start of the game, this Italian wonderkid will become a very good player if he’s developed correctly.
Due to being out on-loan for the first season, it is unlikely that you’ll be able to acquire Pellegrini until the start of the first season. This transfer will likely cost you a lot of money, as Juventus would be reluctant to see such a hot prospect leave their club.
All the best Italian wonderkids in FM 21
Below is the table listing all of FM 21’s best Italian wonderkids, sorted by their PA. The ones given a minus potential ability rating have been placed based on their lowest PA, per their equivalent PA range.
|Name||Age||Team||CA||PA (Range)||Pos.||Wages p/w|
|Gianluigi Donnarumma||21||AC Milan||156||182||GK||£195,068|
|Nicolò Zaniolo||21||AS Roma||150||176||AMC||£81,278|
|Sandro Tonali||20||Brescia (on-loan to AC Milan)||138||169||DM, MC||£35,051|
|Luca Pellegrini||21||Juventus (on-loan to Genoa)||135||160||DL, WBL||£35,577|
|Sebastiano Esposito||18||Internazionale (on-loan to SPAL)||114||-9 (150-180)||ST||£3,251|
|Eddie Salcedo||18||Internazionale (on-loan to Verona)||122||-85 (140-170)||ST||£5,600|
|Emanuel Vignato||19||Bologna FC||118||-85 (140-170)||AMR||£9,753|
|Andrea Papetti||18||Brescia||117||-85 (140-170)||DC||£200|
|Nicolò Rovella||18||Genoa CFC||117||-85 (140-170)||DMC, MC||£230|
|Davide Bettella||20||Atalanta (on-loan to Monza)||116||-85 (140-170)||DC||£1,569|
|Matteo Lovato||20||Hellas Verona||116||-85 (140-170)||DC||£2,846|
|Pietro Pellegri||19||AS Monaco||116||-85 (140-170)||ST||£17,819|
|Riccardo Calafiori||18||AS Roma||104||-85 (140-170)||DL, WBL||£13,004|
|Manuel Gasparini||18||Udinese||101||-85 (140-170)||GK||£2,100|
|Franco Tongya||18||Juventus||100||-85 (140-170)||MC, AMC||£230|
|Lorenzo Pirola||18||Internazionale (on-loan to Monza)||99||-85 (140-170)||DC||£1,600|
|Wilfried Gnonto||16||FC Zürich||85||-85 (140-170)||AMC, ST||£210|
|Manuel Lombardoni||21||Aurora Pro Patria||99||135||DC||£445|
|Pierluigi Pinto||21||ACF Fiorentina||98||134||DC||£1,900|
|Youssef Maleh||21||Venezia FC||117||132||MC, AMC||£682|
|Enrico Brignola||21||Sassuolo (on-loan to SPAL)||109||132||AMR||£9,753|
|Moise Kean||20||Everton (on-loan to PSG)||127||-8 (130-160)||ST||£50,000|
|Matteo Gabbia||20||AC Milan||125||-8 (130-160)||DC||£19,506|
|Gabriele Zappa||20||Delfino Pescara||123||-8 (130-160)||DR, WBR||£5,250|
|Samuele Ricci||18||Empoli||117||-8 (130-160)||MC||£5,250|
|Hans Nicolussi Caviglia||20||Juventus (on-loan to Parma)||114||-8 (130-160)||MC||£8,000|
Use the table above to secure the signature of one or more of Italy’s highest-rated young players destined to be a star for club and country in FM 21.