The FIFA 19 community is a hotbed of argument and oneupmanship – and never more so than when it comes to Ultimate Team winter upgrades. Now a longstanding FUT tradition, they see a selection of in-game players score ratings increases based on performances across the first half of the real-life season. As the most-watched competition in football it’s the Premier League which sparks the most debate, and that’s where GR comes in.
Below we’ve formed a team of 11 players (and seven substitutes) most likely to receive attribute increases when FIFA 19 winter upgrades drop, sometime around late January-early February. In order to spread the love, the first XI is limited to one player from each club. So while Bournemouth fans can make a strong case for both Ryan Fraser and David Brooks, I’ve had to make a judgement call between that talented pair. We kick off with the keeper position, where thankfully there’s no such dilemma to negotiate…
GK: Neil Etheridge (Cardiff City)
Experts and rival fans alike smeared “down by Christmas” stink all over the Bluebirds ahead of the 2018-19 campaign, yet Neil Warnock’s men entered January clear of the bottom three. A key component in that success has been keeper Etheridge, and his remarkable saves and stash of clean sheets deserve to be rewarded with a winter upgrade from 72 to (at least) 75.
RB: Aaron Wan-Bissaka (Crystal Palace)
I considered Southampton’s Jan Valery for this position – he’s established himself at right-back in real life despite a lowly FIFA 19 rating of 61 – but Wan-Bissaka’s astonishing season scores him the #2 shirt. Rated the best tackler in Europe by WhoScored, ‘AWB’ will surely leap from his current 70-rated silver card to a new, 76-rated gold replacement.
CB: Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Van Dijk’s standard 85-rated card is already god-like in FIFA, and he’s formed the bedrock of my FUT team across 102 games and counting. But a behemoth considered the best defender in the world, and the foundation of Liverpool’s run at the EPL title, deserves even better. Expect a two-point increase to 87, and his many special cards to rise an additional point as a result.
CB: Juan Foyth (Tottenham Hotspur)
Spurs’ Juan and only has surprisingly established himself as a key member of the club’s central defensive rotation this season alongside Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez. That impressive rise should be reflected in a significant in-game winter upgrade, with his 70-rated silver surely turned into a 75-strong gold.
LB: Lucas Digne (Everton)
The summer import from Barcelona was expected to face week-to-week competition from Leighton Baines for Everton’s left-back spot, but in fact he’s limited the England international to four appearances across the campaign. Solid defensively and always dangerous on the overlap, he’s also revealed a knack of planting free-kicks in the top corner. Goodbye 78, hello 81.
RM: Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Considered a right-midfielder in game, the wee Scot’s Irn Bru-powered runs and assists from the left flank have made him a beloved figure in the widely popular Fantasy Premier League game – and scored two Team Of The Week cards in FIFA 19. His placing here means David Brooks narrowly misses out. Disclaimer: I have no idea if he actually likes Irn Bru.
CB: Declan Rice (West Ham United)
Listed as a centre-back in FIFA 19, Rice’s current role for West Ham is as a defensive midfielder – so you’d hope that as well as an inevitable ratings boost from his current impoverished 69, he’ll also receive a sneaky position change. Rice’s spot here means team-mate Felipe Anderson misses out, but expect him to get a small bump from 82 to 83 too.
CM: Lucas Torreira (Arsenal)
Another inter-club dilemma here, with Matteo Guendouzi a regular in the Arsenal midfield this campaign yet lumbered with a FIFA 19 overall of just 67. Yet the heartbeat of the side under Unai Emery has been engine-room comrade Torreira, and a metronomic first campaign in the Premier League should result in him cresting 80+ for the first time.
LW: Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
Much like the aforementioned Declan Rice, England’s brightest striking hope feels deserving of a position change in addition to a winter upgrades ratings leap. Considered a left-sided midfielder in game, he’s mostly been deployed as a striker for United, contributing key goals and often keeping the more experienced Romelu Lukaku on the bench. I predict an increase from 81 to 83.
ST: Michael Obafemi (Southampton)
22 December 2018 was a historic date for Saints’ Irish-Nigerian forward: at 18 years and 169 days, he became the club’s youngest ever Premier League goalscorer upon notching against Huddersfield. Yet like youthful team-mate Valery, he’s considered a bronze card in FIFA 19, rated just 61. February should see a switch to silver, with an overall between 65 and 68.
ST: Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham)
It’s been a difficult season for play-off winners Fulham, with the Cottagers five points from Premier League safety as I write this in mid-January. Yet by keeping their talismanic Serbian fit they’ll retain a chance of staying up through to the season’s end. A constant threat regardless of opposition quality, 8 goals in 22 appearances surely ensure a numbers lift from his current 76 to 78-80.
- GK: Ben Foster (Watford), 77 to 78-79
- CB: Denis Odoi (Fulham), 69 to 73-75
- RB: Jan Valery (Southampton), 61 to 68-70
- CM: Matteo Guendouzi (Arsenal), 67 to 73-75
- CAM: David Brooks (Bournemouth), 69 to 74-75
- LM: Felipe Anderson (West Ham), 82 to 83-84
- ST: Salomon Rondon (Newcastle), 77 to 78-79
FIFA 19 is out now. Wondering how you can go about securing all of the above players without breaking the bank? All is revealed in GR’s comprehensive guide to making FIFA 19 Ultimate Team coins.