Football Features

Football Manager 2022 wonderkids: The best young players you’ve (probably) never heard of

By Ben Green

Published: 12:30, 11 November 2021

Football Manager 2022 has finally hit the shelves, and while many will be itching to test out the new wide centre-back role, splurge with recently-wealthy Newcastle and win the Champions League as Wrexham boss, others have their eyes on the latest batch of wonderkids.

It’s standard practice for any Football Manager fan, scouring the market to find precocious talent and the next [insert name here], transforming youngsters from bush-league to Ballon d’Or, and watching them progress from an exciting prospect to club legend.

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We all know the current crop knocking about. La Masia has exploded in recent years, papering over the cracks of Barcelona’s off-field (and on-field) difficulties, with Ansu Fati and Gavi joining Las Palmas graduate Pedri as three of the most exciting teenagers to emerge in recent years.

But, what of those less familiar?

Fati, Gavi and Pedri are all household names by this point; all three have been capped by Spain and start regularly for Barcelona (when fit). But, football is stacked with wonderkids, from Brazil (no surprises there), to the Scandinavian nations, Serie B and countries like Romania and Austria. 

Click on the video at the top of this article to see Squawka’s ultimate XI of Football Manager 2022 wonderkids that you’ve (probably) never heard of. Or read on below for a complete breakdown of our FM22 wonderkid team.

Wonderkid: Giorgi Mamardashvili

Position: GK
Age at start of FM22: 20
Nationality: Georgia
Current club: Valencia (on loan from Dinamo Tbilisi)

The towering shot-stopper became the first Georgian player to represent Valencia earlier this season. On loan at the Mestalla from boyhood club Dinamo Tbilisi, Mamardashvili has gone from strength to strength for Los Che since making his debut. His eight saves against Real Madrid in September is the second-most in a single La Liga game this season, so he is set for a bright future between the sticks.

Wonderkid: Goncalo Esteves

Position: RB
Age at start of FM22: 17
Nationality: Portugal
Current club: Sporting CP

The 17-year-old comes from good stock. His brother, Tomas, represented Reading last season in the Championship and even scored against Swansea back in April. Sporting, who prised him away from Porto in the summer, will hope the attack-minded right-back can follow in the footsteps of former full-back wonderkid Nuno Mendes, who joined PSG in August.

Wonderkid: Wisdom Amey

Position: CB
Age at start of FM22: 15
Nationality: Italy
Current club: Bologna

A 6ft 2in teenager who is currently the youngest debutant in Serie A history after he featured for Bologna back in May at the age of just 15. For context, Amey was born just three months after Lionel Messi won his first La Liga title as well as the Miracle of Istanbul. Incredibly, he is also the first footballer born after the 1st of January 2005 to play a game in a top-5 European league.

Wonderkid: Max Normann Williamsen

Position: CB
Age at start of FM22: 18
Nationality: Norway
Current club: Levanger (on loan from Kristiansund)

With so much Norwegian talent coming through going forward, Lovene will need a next generation at the back if they are to seriously challenge for international silverware. In Williamsen they have a 6ft 2in 18-year-old with an intelligent defensive sense and the mental attributes to go all the way.

Wonderkid: David de la Vibora

Position: LB
Age at start of FM22: 18
Nationality: Spain
Current club: Real Madrid

Although Real have pockets deeper than the Atlantic, they also have an academy bursting at the seams with talent. In Vibora, Los Blancos boast a technically proficient attacking full-back, who also backs up his final-third game with some excellent defensive qualities. At just 18, he already has a rating of ’13’ for tackling on Football Manager, and that number is likely to soar under the right tutelage.

Wonderkid: Angelo

Position: RM
Age at start of FM22: 16
Nationality: Brazil
Current club: Santos

Santos will prepare themselves for a cradle snatch on FM22 as they arguably boast this year’s must-have wonderkid. Another Santos sensation, Angelo surpassed Pele to become the second-youngest debutant for the Sao Paulo club, bettering the Brazilian immortal by 11 days. He is also the youngest Santos player to appear in the Copa Libertadores, surpassing Real Madrid’s Rodrygo. And the youngest Santos player to score in the Copa Libertadores.

Wonderkid: Ivan Ilic

Position: CM
Age at start of FM22: 20
Nationality: Serbia
Current club: Verona

The two-time Serbia international is the youngest debutant in Red Star Belgrade’s history and was subsequently poached by Man City in 2017 as a result. The 20-year-old now turns out in Serie A for Verona and this season alone he scored the first goal against Inter in the Simone Inzaghi era. A robust, versatile defensive midfielder, Ilic would have made the ideal Fernandinho replacement had he stuck around at the Etihad.

Wonderkid: Mustafa Kapi

Position: CM
Age at start of FM22: 18
Nationality: Turkey
Current club: Lille

Now at Lille, the tricky midfielder, quite astonishingly, made his debut for Galatasaray at just 14 in a friendly against against Levski Sofia. Two years later he made his professional bow to become the youngest footballer in the club’s history. Excellent technique, an eye for goal and a killer pass to boot, the teenage Turk is a playmaker wizard in the making.

Wonderkid: Octavian Popescu

Position: LM
Age at start of FM22: 18
Nationality: Romania
Current club: FCSB

Former Romania international Gabi Balint said that Popescu “is a quick-thinking genius, just as Gheorghe Hagi was”. Tipped to follow in the footsteps of Romania’s preternatural playmaker, Popescu certainly has the dribbling qualities and creative attributes to become Hagi’s heir.

Wonderkid: Lorenzo Lucca

Position: ST
Age at start of FM22: 20
Nationality: Italy
Current club: Pisa

A Jan Koller tribute act, Lucca stands at a whopping 6ft 7in, but don’t let the height fool you. He top scored for Palermo in Serie C last season and earned a move to Pisa as a result, where he is currently rubbing shoulders with the most prolific forwards in Italy’s second tier with six goals this term.

Wonderkid: Benjamin Sesko

Position:: ST
Age at start of FM22: 18
Nationality: Slovenia
Current club: Red Bull Salzburg

Dubbed the ‘Mini-Haaland’, the teenager says his Red Bull Salzburg team-mates tell him he’s better than Erling (who of course had a spell at Salzburg). At 6ft 4in he has an identical build to Dortmund’s goal fiend, but has pace to burn. Get this, he clocked a top speed of 36.1km/hour against FC Dorrnbirn in April, which is almost identical to Kylian Mbappe. So he’s essentially a cross between Haaland and Mbappe. Get this guy in your team. He is also the youngest Slovenian debutant, Slovenia’s youngest ever goalscorer and the youngest player to start in the Champions League for Salzburg.