Adding width and pinpoint crossing, or cutting inside to turn defenders inside out, left midfielders can be essential features of a team’s offensive arsenal.
The evolution of the modern full-back has forced these wide players to round out their game, becoming more defensively aware on the pitch. Along with extended defensive duties, left midfielders find themselves more freedom in attack, with full backs overlapping them in the final third.
This freedom urges the explosive forwards to not only create goals but also to add their own name to the scoresheet, terrorising defenders all game.
This article explores the next batch of wonderkid left midfielders (ML) primed to reach the pinnacle of the sport in Football Manager 2021.
Choosing the best young left midfielders in FM 21
This list of players was chosen based on three criteria:
- Players had to be 21-years-old or younger;
- Each had to have a minimum positional rating of 18 in midfield left (ML);
- Finally, they needed a minimum potential ability (PA) rating of 130 or a PA range of at least -8 (130-160).
Potential is calculated in one of two ways in Football Manager 2021. The first is shown in the form a number between zero and 200. The other way that a player’s PA is shown is via a negative rating from -10 to -1. These negative ratings have a PA range that they equate to, with the players getting a different PA in each new save. The potential ranges follow this pattern: -10 (170-200), -95 (160-190), -9 (150-180), and so on.
This article contains the top-five left midfielders boasting the highest potential ability in FM 21. There’s also a table showing every other left midfield wonderkid meeting our criteria at the foot of the page.
Jadon Sancho (158 CA / 178 PA)
Team: Borussia Dortmund
Best Positions: ML, AML, AMR, MR
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 158 CA / 178 PA
Vale: £40.5 million
Wage: £160,272 per week
Best Attributes: 18 Agility, 18 Dribbling, 17 Acceleration
Jadon Sancho made a reputation for himself playing in Manchester City’s academy, gaining plaudits for his skilful and direct approach to football. Catching eyes all around the world, it was Borussia Dortmund who tempted the young Englishman abroad with the prospect of first-team football.
The German team secured his signature for £7.05 million in 2017, which proved an absolute bargain as Sancho has gone from strength-to-strength at the Signal Iduna Park. He’s managed to amass 115 appearances, 37 goals, and 49 assists during his time in Germany so far.
In FM 21, Sancho prefers to operate as an inverted winger, causing chaos as he cuts inside the opposing team, utilising his 18 dribbling and 17 acceleration to great effect. To keep him fit for the busiest spells of the season, assigning him to extra endurance training will improve upon his 12 stamina and 12 work rate.
Always looking to create for his side, Sancho’s 17 vision and 16 passing give him the ability to find his teammates with ease, amplified by his 16 decisions the ensure that he makes the right pass more often than not.
Dwight McNeil (135 CA / 165 PA)
Best Positions: AML, ML
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 135 CA / 165 PA
Vale: £19.5 million
Wage: £45,000 per week
Best Attributes: 16 Determination, 16 Natural Fitness, 15 Dribbling
Our next left-mid wonderkid is Dwight McNeil, another Englishman occupying the left midfield role. He’s currently developing his game with Premier League side Burnley, having left the youth ranks of Manchester United to join the Clarets in 2014.
Having developed in Burnley’s system, McNeil has established himself in the first-team over the last two seasons. He’s earned 80 appearances, five goals, and 12 assists since his debut in May 2018, so bigger clubs will soon be eyeing the signature of this highly-rated youngster.
Playing as a traditional, left-footed wide midfielder, McNeil prefers to play one-twos with teammates as his side advances up the pitch. His 14 pace, 15 dribbling, and 14 crossing have him thriving down the left flank offensively, while his 16 determination and 14 work rate display a willingness to track back and defend.
Although McNeil displays a solid work rate and 16 natural fitness, his 11 stamina should be a focus for his individual training. Developing his stamina will enable him to get more game time, increasing the rate of his development while also making him more useful over the course of 90 minutes.
Jacob Bruun Larsen (136 CA / 155 PA)
Best Positions: AMR, MR, AML, ML
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 136 CA / 155 PA
Vale: £7 million
Wage: £35,027 per week
Best Attributes: 16 Off the Ball, 16 Natural Fitness, 16 Work Rate
This young winger, came out of Borussia Dortmund’s prosperous academy with an astonishing record at youth level, scoring 31 goals and assisting 26 more in 49 appearances for the under-19s. Jacob Bruun Larsen’s run in the senior team wasn’t as potent, though, only managing to score three goals and set-up five more in 41 games for Dortmund.
In January 2020, BVB decided to part ways with the youngster, selling him to fellow Bundesliga side Hoffenheim for £8.1 million. Last season, Bruun Larsen tallied one assist in his first 12 games for his new club. This season, the Dane’s development has been stalled by fitness problems, appearing just three times to date.
The winger displays fantastic versatility as a natural on either side of the pitch, utilising his ability with either foot. His 16 work rate and 16 off the ball movement make him excellent at exposing space in the final third.
Working on his overall distribution attributes of 11 crossing, 12 vision, and 12 passing in training will only increase Bruun Larsen’s effectiveness in attack. As a key part of Hoffenheim’s team, they will ask for an inflated sum in the first transfer window. However, another season of regular football will make him an even better signing in the future.
Nico Serrano (95 CA / 150-180 PA)
Team: Athletic Bilbao C
Best Positions: AML, ML, ST
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 95 CA / -9 (150-180) PA
Wage: £1,500 per week
Best Attributes: 15 Natural Fitness, 14 Pace, 14 Dribbling
Nico Serrano played his first Segunda División B game in October of this season, continuing his development within the Athletic Bilbao’s youth ranks. Playing in the third tier of Spanish football, Serrano has contributed one goal and one assist in the six games he’s played to date.
The Spain under-18 international is facing a pivotal time in his career; a string of good performances for Bilbao Athletic could see him making his senior debut in the near future.
A wildcard in terms of raw potential in FM 21, Serrano’s 13 finishing, 14 dribbling, and 14 pace complements his affinity to play as a striker as well as on the wing. Whether it’s with the ball at his feet or chasing balls into space using his natural speed, Serrano is potent wherever he plays.
The young Spaniard does have a fair share of developing to do, with areas such as his six stamina, eight off the ball, and seven composure in need of improvement to ensure that he’s as useful as possible. Employing the right development for this ML wonderkid will see him become a nightmare for defenders as he approaches his lofty maximum potential.
Edon Zhegrova (126 CA / 149 PA)
Team: FC Basel
Best Positions: AML, ML, AMR, MR
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 126 CA / 149 PA
Vale: £3 million
Wage: £8,681 per week
Best Attributes: 17 Dribbling, 16 Agility, 16 Pace
The Kosovo international Edon Zhegrova started his career in Belgium with KRC Genk, moving to Swiss side FC Basel in 2019. Leaving on a loan deal which saw him stay in Switzerland until the end of the 2019/20 season, he played 29 times, scoring two and assisting four for Basel.
Last season was cut short for Zhegrova as he sustained an injury to his medial collateral ligament in June 2020. After recovering in September, Basel spent £2.7 million on the wide player; he’s been repaying their faith this season, scoring and assisting once in ten appearances to date.
An excellent player with the ball at his feet, Zhegrova’s attributes include 17 dribbling, 16 technique, and 16 first touch, relishing the chance to trick his way towards goal. The 16 pace and 15 acceleration paired with his dribbling ability make him a fearsome prospect in left midfield.
One of the main areas that he could do with developing for this top left midfield wonderkid would be his mental attributes. Working on his eight decisions, nine concentration, and nine anticipation can only further his ability to tear down the wing.
All the best wonderkid left midfielders (ML) in FM 21
In the table below, you’ll find all of the best wonderkid left midfielders (ML) in FM 21. Players are sorted by their PA, with those given a negative PA arranged per their lowest possible PA.
|Name||Age||Team||CA||PA (Range)||Wage (p/w)|
|Jadon Sancho||20||Borussia Dortmund||158||178||£160,272|
|Jacob Bruun Larsen||21||Hoffenheim||136||155||£35,027|
|Nico Serrano||17||Athletic Bilbao C||95||-9 (150-180)||£1,500|
|Edon Zhegrova||21||FC Basel||126||149||£8,681|
|Sead Haksabanovic||21||IFK Norrköping||125||148||£3,491|
|Jon Morcillo||21||Athletic Bilbao||132||147||£14,250|
|Ruben Vargas||21||FC Augsburg||129||145||£10,543|
|Robin Hack||21||FC Nürnberg||121||144||£4,381|
|Pelayo Morilla||19||Real Sporting de Gijón B||99||-85 (140-170)||£1,400|
|Paulinho||20||Bayer Leverkusen||127||-85 (140-170)||£26,360|
|Moussa Diaby||21||Bayer Leverkusen||138||-85 (140-170)||£35,147|
|Ismail Jakobs||20||FC Köln||124||140||£13,250|
|Timothy Tillman||21||Greuther Fürth||111||136||£4,381|
|Ryan Giles||20||Wolverhampton Wanderers||108||135||£2,500|
|Aaron Opoku||21||Hamburger SV||117||134||£1,392|
|Issah Abass||21||Mainz 05||116||134||£7,767|
|Martín Ojeda||21||RC Avellaneda||118||133||£300|
|Carlos Gutiérrez||21||Pumas de la UNAM||104||131||£725|
|Germán Valera||18||Atlético Madrid B||75||-8 (130-160)||£425|
|Mohamed Taabouni||18||AZ Alkmaar||102||-8 (130-160)||£800|
|Ísak Bergmann Jóhannesson||17||IFK Norrköping||109||-8 (130-160)||£1,396|
|Arjen van der Heide||18||SC Heerenveen||100||-8 (130-160)||£775|
|Mauro Júnior||21||PSV Eindhoven||127||-8 (130-160)||£4,500|
|Eugene Smyenyi||21||Dynamo Kyiv||99||130||£230|
|Edwin Herrera||21||Independiente Santa Fe||110||130||£3,900|
|Gabriel Gudmundsson||21||FC Groningen||112||130||£1,500|
Now you know the next best left-mid wonderkids in FM 21, but who will make the cut for your squad?