The name may have changed but the debate created by the annual release of the most popular football video game is very much alive and well.
Thiago Silva had a knowing smile on his face when he joked that the creators of EA Sports FC 24 – the latest version of what was known as FIFA 23 last season – are «not watching any games». Chelsea’s wizened centre-back – who made his debut on the game in FIFA 10 – has his overall score dropped from 86 to 84 over the summer.
What the Brazilian clearly felt to be an unwarranted downgrade has nudged Silva out of the 100 highest-rated players in the new version of the game.
Here are the footballers that made the cut for this year’s elite crop – although it may still include some unhappy individuals.
For the second consecutive season, Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne are the highest-ranked players in the game with a score of 91.
Both wholly warrant a place among the elite. Mbappe claimed the Golden Boot at the mid-season World Cup, including a hat-trick in the final which his France team lost to Argentina, while De Bruyne was the creative hub of a Manchester City team that won the European treble.
Of the 28 goals which De Bruyne created last season, Erling Haaland scored 11. City’s ruthlessly prolific forward also boasts a 91 rating.
Barcelona Femeni’s Alexia Putellas is the highest-rated female player with the same lofty score. Spain’s World Cup winner claimed consecutive Ballons d’Or between 2021 and 2022 but a knee injury prevented her from making a single league start last season. Putellas was only brought off the bench in the 90th minute of the final against England in Sydney but the quality which she clearly possessed before the layoff – rather than her understandably stilted cameos since – has ranked her above the rest.
Putellas is one of nine players from Barcelona’s women’s team to rank among the top 100 highest rated players in EA FC 24. No other club, whether it be the men’s or women’s branches, can boast as many players in the elite century.
Barcelona’s Caroline Graham Hansen and Aitana Bonmati both carry the hefty score of 90. Bonmati was crowned the best player at this year’s World Cup in Australia and New Zealand and is expected to end Putellas’ reign as Ballon d’Or holder when the winner is announced at the end of October.
Chelsea’s Sam Kerr (90) and Guro Reiten (88), along with Beth Mead (87) of Arsenal, are the only three representatives of the English Women’s Super League ranked above 86. Mead finished second behind Putellas in the vote for the 2022 Ballon d’Or but wasn’t even nominated for this year’s gong after sitting out the vast majority of the season with an ACL injury.
Thibaut Courtois (90) famously complained it is «impossible» for a goalkeeper to win the Ballon d’Or. Real Madrid’s outspoken number one will have to be content with his status as FC 24’s highest-rated goalkeeper – just one rating below the leading quartet in the game – but has himself fallen foul of a season-ending knee injury.
Intriguingly, there is not a single teenager included in the game’s top 100 highest-rated players. Jude Bellingham, Jamal Musiala and Pedri were all 20 and ranked at 86 when the ratings were released at the start of the season.
Saudi Arabia’s extravagant spending during the summer transfer window has been reflected in EA’s ratings. Clubs from the country’s aggressively expanding Pro League spent more on transfer fees than their counterparts in Germany, Italy or France. Consequently, the SPL boasted seven players in the top 100, more than the Bundesliga (six), Serie A (six) or Ligue 1 (four) could offer.
The reigning Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema is the highest-ranked player plying their trade in the Kingdom but he is not the only 90-plus rating outside of Europe.
Al Ittihad’s well-paid new striker once said: «He who criticises Messi knows nothing about football.» What Benzema makes of the decision-makers at EA remains to be seen after they bumped Lionel Messi‘s overall score down from 91 to 90 following his move to Inter Miami.
For the first time since FIFA 18, Messi (90) is not the highest-rated player in the game. When he was nudged into second place six years ago, Cristiano Ronaldo predictably claimed top spot. However, for the latest iteration of EA’s flagship game, Ronaldo has been given a lowly score of 86 – the same figure as Villarreal’s Dani Parejo. If anybody is going to kick up a fuss about their rating this year, Ronaldo would be a prime candidate.