Before we begin, I would like to acknowledge a huge caveat that these ratings have not been officially released and are thus possible to change before release.
In case you were actually on another planet and not paying attention this year, Leicester City won the Premier League. It’s been described as a fairytale, impossible, and the greatest season the Premier League has ever seen. Journeymen and previously unknown players, such as Kante, Mahrez and Vardy, stepped into the spotlight and did what no one thought possible.
And – being the avid FIFA player I am – the whole time I was thinking, ‘I wonder what their FIFA 17 ratings will be.’
Well now we have an indication. And it’s… disappointing.
In the past 24 hours a whole raft of images have been leaked showing most of the big teams in world football and their players’ ratings. With last season being so strange, this is the first time I’ve really had a chance to find the answer for two questions I’ve long wondered. How much does last season affect player ratings? And, how much does a player’s career affect their ratings?
I won’t show all of the teams that have been leaked. You can find them by yourself if you want to, but I will share the three teams most pertinent for this discussion: Manchester United, Chelsea, and Leicester City.
One of these teams finished first last year, one finished 5th and one finished 10th, but can you tell by the ratings? Sure there have been a couple of new signings, but only Manchester United appear to have been upgraded by them this year. But let’s look at those three Leicester players I mentioned earlier; Vardy, Mahrez and Kante.
Jamie Vardy’s story is an incredible one. Playing for teams such as Stocksbridge Park Steels and F.C. Halifax Town for his early career, he moved to Leicester City in 2012. So, at age 25, he finally played in the fully professional leagues. Two years later he played in the top division for the first time, and two years after that he lifted the Premier League trophy, won the FWA Player of the Year award and scored 24 goals in a season. In fact he tied with Sergio Agüero for number of goals, only one behind Golden Boot winner Harry Kane.
For all this Vardy gets a rating of 80.
Kane can feel hard-done-by as well, receiving only 82, while Aguero gets a rating of 89. Clearly, pedigree matters. But Daniel Sturridge got 13 goals from 25 games last season, and only 5 from 18 the season before. He is clearly a great player hampered by injury, but for him to be rated 83 – 3 points above Vardy – seems unfair. Not to mention Giroud’s 82, who managed a career high 16 Premier League goals last season. Or Michy Batshuayi, who scored only 17 goals in a weaker league but still gets the same rating as Vardy.
Vardy’s 80 rating only becomes more egregious when you look at the ratings for BPL players the year after they scored 20 goals in a season.
Robin van Persie: 30 goals, 88 rating in FIFA 13
Wayne Rooney: 27 goals, 89 rating in FIFA 13
Sergio Agüero: 23 goals, 87 rating in FIFA 13
Robin van Persie: 26 goals, 89 rating in FIFA 14
Luis Suárez: 23 goals, 86 rating in FIFA 14
Gareth Bale: 21 goals, 87 rating in FIFA 14
Luis Suárez: 31 goals, 89 rating in FIFA 15
Daniel Sturridge: 21 goals, 83 rating in FIFA 15
Yaya Touré: 21 goals, 86 rating in FIFA 15
Serio Agüero: 26 goals, 87 rating in FIFA 16
Harry Kane: 21 goals, 78 rating on FIFA 16
Diego Costa: 20 goals, 86 rating on FIFA 16
Only Harry Kane’s 78 last FIFA sticks out amongst the high 80s received by most players for a 20+ goal BPL season. And Kane’s 2014-15 season was actually comparable to Vardy’s 2015-16 season in many ways. Both were relatively unknown, who came out of the woodwork to set the league on fire. This FIFA, after Kane had an even better season, his rating consolidates at an 82. However, is still vastly lower than any of the recent 25+ goal scorers above.
This alone seems to prove that FIFA’s ratings are based on history and pedigree, and I would argue club as well. Leroy Sane – rated 79 this year – is a real talent, but is he better than Danny Drinkwater (78) or Delle Alli (77)? Probably not, but he just moved to a massive club, in Manchester City.
This may be flogging a dead horse by now, but like Vardy’s rating, Mahrez’s 83 is unfair for a player who won the Player’s Player of the Year.
Here are the players who won the FPA’s Player of the Year award the past 6 seasons, and their rating the following FIFA:
2009-10: Wayne Rooney, 88 rating in FIFA 11
2010-11: Gareth Bale, 86 rating in FIFA 12
2011-12: Robin van Persie, 88 rating in FIFA 13
2012-13: Gareth Bale, 87 rating in FIFA 14
2013-14: Luis Suárez, 89 rating in FIFA 15
2014-15: Eden Hazard, 89 rating in FIFA 16
Compared with these ratings, Mahrez’s 83 does seem very low. But, like Vardy, he was a relative unknown before his incredible 2015-16 season, and FIFA ratings more and more appear conservative in their adjustments.
Bastian Schweinsteiger’s 86 rating, for a player who played very poorly last season, and whose career really seems to be on the down, is baffling. Especially when world-record signing Paul Pogba is lined up next to him with only 1 point more.
And that’s before we mention Kante. Without his ability in the midfield, Leicester simply would not have won the title. He slots into Chelsea’s FIFA 17 midfield as one of the lowest rated starters, even after their disastrous season. I’ve felt that FIFA underrates defensive mids for a long time now, but real-world Kante is already improving Chelsea’s midfield even after one game and 81 seems a bit low.
I understand that EA have a lot of factors to grapple with when creating player ratings. I understand that form is temporary and class is permanent, so nuking a player’s rating after one bad season is often unfair. I also understand that lowering Chelsea’s ratings after their terrible season is going to put off millions of Chelsea fans from potentially buying this game. By comparison, not upgrading Leicester city very much will not put off as many. Plus, how much can a player’s ability really fall away – or improve – in 12 months? What could a player possibly do to allow them to grow from a 72 rating to 85? Obviously, no matter what happens there will always be someone who can find something to complain about.
But there’s a question I’ve been wondering.
What would Vardy’s rating be if he had exactly the same season last season, but did it for Manchester United? What If he’d been playing for Everton for 3 years, consistently getting 10 goals? In both cases his rating would have to be closer to 85.
EA simply must take more stock of the past few seasons than just the previous one. And this is ok. I’m fine with that.
But are Branislav Ivanovic and Dejan Lovren really better than Wes Morgan right now? Really?
FIFA 17 should be as close to a representation of the current world of football as possible, and these ratings – particularly regarding Premier League Champions Leicester City – are not.
But they do update the ratings during the season, if only a bit. Plus, I can manually change them once I get the game if I want to.
I’d just rather they were a bit closer to the present than the past.