The FIFA 21 best teams list based on ratings won’t be confirmed until early October, but that doesn’t stop us pinpointing which squads will be most fun to get to grips with in the upcoming game. Some are straightforward choices: Premier League champions Liverpool, who’ll be imperious in FIFA 21, and newly promoted Leeds United. But surprises, like the rumoured new addition of Paraguayan heavyweights Olimpia, are included too. Across exhibition, career mode and (in terms of their individual player items) Ultimate Team, this is your FIFA 21 best teams guide, from the perspective of pure enjoyment.
After a sixteen-year absence, Leeds’ return to the Premier League was confirmed in July when promotion rivals West Bromwich Albion lost to Huddersfield Town. Champions of the Championship (how’s that for a tongue-twister?), their return should see the famous Elland Road stadium added to FIFA at long last, and they’ve been linked to a host of big names such as Edinson Cavani. Restoring this once-elite club to greatness will be one of career mode’s most tempting challenges.
The appeal of a team containing Lionel Messi, Frenkie de Jong, and Antoine Griezmann is self-explanatory, but Barca look an even more tantalising prospect than usual for FIFA 21. It’s all down to one new signing. Former Sporting Braga winger Francisco Trincao has been labelled as the new Cristiano Ronaldo, and a player who “will define a decade from now” by ex-chairman Antonio Salvador. The 20-year-old is so good that his release clause at Barca will be an astronomical £446.5 million. Rated just 71 in FIFA 20, expect a big stats leap and deluge of souped-up FUT cards.
Well, duh. It’d be remiss of us not to include the Premier League Champions after they obliterated all comers in 2019-20, to win their first English title since 1990. Whether in career mode, exhibition or Ultimate Team their squad of players reads like a cheat team: Alisson. Virgil van Dijk. Andy Robertson. Trent Alexander-Arnold. Firminho. Sadio Mane. Mo Salah. They’ll be a colossal force again next season, on both digital and real turf.
The Portuguese giants became an EA partner club in 2019, but it wasn’t reflected in any noticeable way in-game. That’s expected to change this year, with the club’s in-house TV channel confirming that players such as Jota were scanned for the upcoming game in January – more on that in our FIFA 21 player faces guide. It should also lead to the beautiful Estadio da Luz earning a long-overdue series debut. Their key summer singing is Brazilian winger Pedrinho, a €20 million capture from Corinthians.
Ahead of FIFA 20, the Vanarama National League – England’s fifth tier – put out a petition lobbying for EA to include it in the game. Sadly it didn’t amount to anything, but Cumbrian side Barrow no longer have to worry about that. They’ll be in FIFA for the first time ever next year, after securing promotion from the National League to League Two. The club is 119 years old, but has never appeared in the series before having last played league football in 1972. Manager David Dunn enjoyed a long Premier League career with Blackburn Rovers and Birmingham City.
A transfer ban in the summer of 2019 meant manager Frank Lampard was forced to focus on youth during his first season at Stamford Bridge, with Mason Mount, Fikayo Tomori, Tammy Abraham and Christian Pulisic having storming breakthrough campaigns. That ban has since been lifted, and ushered in the signings of German speed wizard Timo Werner, and Moroccan wonder winger Hakim Ziyech. They’ll be a force in every mode going, with a set of players who’ll rack up myriad special items in FIFA 21 Ultimate Team.
The Netherlands’ most successful club is notorious for its conveyor belt of youth excellence, which in recent years has produced Frenkie De Jong and Matthijs de Ligt, and propelled the club to numerous strong Champions League campaigns. Changes to FIFA 21 career mode mean you’ll finally be able to master its academy, with the option to train players for particular positions – turn a striker into a right-back, or vice versa – or a specific role in your team, like a target man. Ziyech may be gone, but the excellence of Donny van de Beek and David Neres will keep them highly playable.
Kylian Mbappe is the FIFA 21 cover star, ensuring a sensational (and very much deserved) set of FIFA 21 ratings come October. Last year’s top three players were Lionel Messi (RW, 94), Cristiano Ronaldo (ST, 93) and Mbappe’s team-mate, Neymar (LW, 92). Don’t be surprised if EA decides to swap one Paris player for another, and award the French starlet a spot in that holy trinity. With Mario Icardi’s move from Inter Milan becoming permanent, and youngsters Timothee Pembele and Arnaud Kalimuendo tipped for breakthrough campaigns, it’s set to be another dominant season at the Parc des Princes.
The reigning Paraguayan champions are the only team on this list not yet confirmed for FIFA 21. But we include them here as, while the Vanarama National League is set to again miss out, there’s a strong Reddit rumour that Paraguay’s top flight is the sole new domestic competition to be added this year. A handful of Olimpia players, such as midfielder Nicolas Domingo and former Arsenal and Manchester City striker Emmanuel Adebayor, are already in FIFA 20 Ultimate Team due to EA’s tie-in with the CONMEBOL Libertadores – although Adebayor will not be returning to the club next season.