FIFA 18 Ultimate Team: 11 players guaranteed a January upgrade when the transfer window closes

It’s fashionable to knock Ultimate Team just as it is most elements of FIFA 18, but there are many things it does brilliantly – such as receive new life via winter player upgrades. These take place at the end of January to tie in with the mid-season transfer window’s closure, and fans of every team are currently lobbying EA to ensure their star player gets a stats jump.

While the publisher won’t hint as to which players are to be upgraded, previous years have taught us that refreshed ratings often match live updates to career mode – and one of those has just occurred. Meaning GamesRadar+ can predict, with some confidence, a team’s worth of quality players who’ll be boosted can the end of January. That XI is below…

GK Ederson (Manchester City)

City’s new stopper has quickly earned himself a reputation close to that of cross-town rival David De Gea, yet is rated a relatively lowly 83 in FUT. His career mode overall (‘OVR’) was recently amended to 84, and you can expect his Ultimate Team card to follow suit. Just don’t expect it to go any higher for now, given that he already has two items rated 85.

RB Ashley Young (Manchester United)

Considered a right-back in game, Young has earned two in-form cards this season for real-life performances on the left side of United’s defence. A position change is unlikely although not impossible; regardless of whether or not it materialises, a ratings upgrade from his current overall of 75 is guaranteed. If career mode is anything to go by, it’ll be two points higher, at 77.

CB Matthias Ginter (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Quietly building a reputation as the Bundesliga’s best defender, the German’s standard, 78-rated FUT card can be purchased for a miserly 400 coins. That’s unlikely to be the case come February. His career mode potential stands at 82 – expect a new FUT card to come a bit closer to that, with big increases in passing (currently 71), defending (78) and physicality (75).

CB James Tarkowski (Burnley)

Unfashionable Burnley have cemented themselves in the top half of the Premier League this season, thanks to a stingy backline which has only conceded 21 goals. Tarkowski and skipper Ben Mee form the foundation of that backline, yet the 25-year-old is still rated silver in Ultimate Team, with an OVR of 73. He’ll surely be bumped to gold, with a 75 minimum (career mode suggests 78!) come February.

RB Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Unfairly overlooked in FIFA 18’s recent Team Of The Year vote thanks to gamers’ obsession with pace over all other attributes, Kimmich can lay claim to being the best right-back in the world right now – hence him already having four different cards in FUT, rated between 81 and 87. Expect a leap in overall rating to 84, and don’t fear using him in central midfield: some full-backs are brilliant there, as explained in our FIFA 18 fan tips.

LM Richarlison (Watford)

Manager Marco Silva was sacked last weekend in response to Watford’s dramatic collapse in form, but the one bright spot amid their slide has been Brazilian winger Richarlison. His five goals and eight assists in the league bely a FIFA 18 rating of 73, and he’s assured of a switch from silver to gold come month’s end. As for the number on that card? Going by career mode, I’m plumping for 76.

CAM Nabil Fekir (Lyon)

19 games, 16 goals, 5 assists: there’s no debating the French league’s player of the season so far, with the only surprise that it isn’t someone from PSG. Fekir’s standard 82-rated card already plays beautifully, so an inevitable bump to 83 or 84 is something to be celebrated – and means you won’t have to shell out the going rate of 73,000 for his existing 84-rated in-form.

CAM Ruben Loftus-Cheek (Crystal Palace)

After making his England debut earlier in November, Loftus-Cheek looks like being a fixture in the Chelsea side once his year-long loan to Palace is over – yet incredibly, his in-game rating is worse than that of club-mate Jordon Mutch, who’s been outcast since January 2017. That figure of 69 is due a huge bump to at least 75 – and should in the process switch RLC’s card colour from silver to gold. 

RW Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

On 30 December the Egyptian forward hammered in his 23rd goal in all competitions – an individual total greater than eight entire teams in the same league. His exploits have been ridiculous, and led to him racking up four upgraded FUT cards in addition to the 83-rated basic version. Going by career mode it’s about to be bumped to 85, with some of those in-forms automatically boosted as a result.

ST Goncalo Guedes (Valencia)

Capped five times by Portugal, Guedes dropped from gold card to silver in FIFA following his summer loan move from Paris St Germain, but that’s a change likely to reversed very soon. His performances on the left wing in Spain have already scored two in-form cards, and made a mockery of that standard 74 rating. Career mode suggests a new overall of 79 come February.

ST Harry Kane (Tottenham)

It’s a measure of the England skipper’s astonishing year that his current in-game rating of 86 seems at least three points too low. 56 goals in 52 games for club and country saw him deservedly voted into FIFA 18’s Team Of The Year, earning a 96-rated card – and while his revised basic item won’t match that, the recent career mode update foretells an OVR jump to 88. Sweet.

FIFA 18 is out now. Looking to earn sufficient currency to cover the above players when they do get upgraded? Then check out our guide to making millions via SBCs and silver packs.

Ben Wilson

I'm GamesRadar's sports editor, and obsessed with NFL, WWE, MLB, AEW, and occasionally things that don't have a three-letter acronym – such as Chvrches, Bill Bryson, and Streets Of Rage 4. (All the Streets Of Rage games, actually.) Even after three decades I still have a soft spot for Euro Boss on the Amstrad CPC 464+.