It’s trendy to knock FIFA 21 meta players. Facing the likes of Joe Gomez and Raphael Varane in 90% of your weekend league games is endlessly frustrating – but their effectiveness often leads to you buying them anyway. Pace and athleticism are (again) a focus of FIFA 21, meaning our list of 11 overpowered gold cards is packed with Olympian sprint speed and balletic movement. In each case I’ve focussed on the player’s base item rather than TOTW or other special cards, and all are now affordable if you’ve been sensibly saving your FIFA 21 coins. This is your FIFA 21 meta players guide.
Nick Pope (GK)
Team / nation / rating: Burnley / England / 82
Why is he meta? The Burnley stopper is 6 foot 7, so literally reaches parts of the goal others can’t with his hands, and has the Saves With Feet trait, enabling him to do the same with his legs – as well as being supreme in one-to-one scenarios. The Comes For Crosses trait also makes him snug as a bug in an official Burnley rug it comes to claiming high punts into the box.
Strong links: Joe Gomez (CB, 83), Harry Maguire (CB, 82)
Base item cost: 1,700 coins
Nelson Semedo (RB)
Team / nation / rating: Wolves / Portugal / 83
Why is he meta? A Premier League right-back card with 92 speed and 82 dribbling. No matter that he’s only rated 77 for defending and 76 for physicality: that pace asset means he can keep up with the nippiest left-wingers in the game, such as Barca’s Ousmane Dembele, and overlap speedily on the counter attack (a favoured tactic this year). Kyle Walker (Manchester City, 85) is the popular upgrade once you’re rolling in coins.
Strong links: Joe Gomez (CB, 83), Lucas (RM, 83)
Base item cost: 5,000 coins
Joe Gomez (CB)
Team / nation / rating: Liverpool / England / 83
Why is he meta? Speed and strength. Gomez is a very good centre-back in real-life, yet a man-marking, ball-hawking colossus in FIFA 21 thanks to ratings of 82 pace, 80 defending and 83 physicality. Slap a Shadow chemistry item on him and none shall pass. His all-round abilities are almost as effective as club captain Virgil van Dijk, just for 130,000 fewer coins.
Strong links: Harry Maguire (CB, 82), Nelson Semedo (RB, 83), Nick Pope (GK, 82)
Base item cost: 7,900 coins
Raphael Varane (CB)
Team / nation / rating: Real Madrid / France / 86
Why is he meta? One of the few meta players who legitimately might make a list of the world’s best XI. 87 defending, 82 physicality and 82 pace are very much justified stats, applied to an iron-strong 6 foot 3 frame. Strong links to the likes of N’Golo Kante and Moussa Sissoko complete an irresistible package.
Strong links: Hugo Lloris (GK, 87), Ferland Mendy (LB, 83), N’Golo Kante (CDM, 88)
Base item cost: 88,000 coins
Ferland Mendy (LB)
Team / nation / rating: Real Madrid / France / 83
Why is he meta? Manchester City’s 80-rated Benjamin Mendy could easily have featured here, but it’s his namesake Ferland who crops up more regularly online and therefore gets the gig. 92 pace and 82 physicality make him a phenomenon at both ends of the pitch, chipping in with blocks, tackles, overlapping runs and timely assists.
Strong links: Raphael Varane (CB, 86), Allan Saint-Maximin (LM, 80), Ousmane Dembele (LW, 83)
Base item cost: 9,400 coins
Team / nation / rating: Tottenham / Brazil / 83
Why is he meta? A bunch of strong right-sided Premier League cards have dampened the Brazilian’s popularity since the season’s start; during October and November he was first choice for seemingly every Division Rivals team I faced. Still, 92 pace and 87 dribbling mean he remains deadly if you’re seeking a top-flight winger to outspeed opposing left-backs.
Strong links: Nelson Semedo (RB, 83), Moussa Sissoko (CM, 79), Rodrigo (ST, 82)
Base item cost: 9,400 coins
Moussa Sissoko (CM)
Team / nation / rating: Tottenham / France / 79
Why is he meta? The second Spurs player to make this list, with a 6 foot 2 frame and unique powerhouse build which lead him to far outperform attributes such as 78 pace, 77 passing, 78 dribbling and 77 defending. You’ll have recurring nightmares if you ever come up against his 86-rated UEL Live card – one of the deadliest in the game, little wonder it retails at 1.3 million coins.
Strong links: Lucas (RM, 83), Joe Gomez (CB, 83), Rodrigo (ST, 82)
Base item cost: 2,100 coins
N’Golo Kante (CDM)
Team / nation / rating: Chelsea / France / 88
Why is he meta? A meta player for (at least) the past three FIFA seasons, Chelsea’s turf-covering defensive shield gets everywhere thanks to 89 defensive awareness, 90 standing tackle, and 91 interceptions. At 5 foot 6 he can be beaten in the air, but few online players dispatch high balls around the midfield, making his lack of height irrelevant. Like Varane, his FIFA 21 abilities match his real-life ones.
Strong links: Allan Saint-Maximin (LM, 80), Moussa Sissoko (CM, 79), Wissam Ben Yedder (ST, 84)
Base item cost: 124,000 coins
Allan Saint-Maximin (LM)
Team / nation / rating: Newcastle / France / 80
Why is he meta? Sigh. It was a toss-up between Saint-Maximin and countryman Ousmane Dembele for this spot. Both are horrible to defend against in Rivals or the weekend league, but Dembele misses out on account of being the superior real-life player. 93 pace and 87 dribbling keep the Geordies’ winger as meta as anyone on this list.
Strong links: Ferland Mendy (LB, 86), Moussa Sissoko (CM, 79), Wissam Ben Yedder (ST, 84)
Base item cost: 4,300 coins
Team / nation / rating: Leeds United / Spain / 82
Why is he meta? One of FIFA 21’s most effective strikers is a man who can’t even get into his club’s first XI thanks to the form of Patrick Bamford – who for in-game purposes is a 71-rated silver card. Astonishing. Not that Rodrigo owners care much for such quibbles: they’re too busy enjoying his 91 pace, 81 dribbling and general in-the-box slipperiness.
Strong links: Lucas (RM, 83), Moussa Sissoko (CM, 79), Inaki Williams (ST, 81)
Base item cost: 2,800 coins
Wissam Ben Yedder (ST)
Team / nation / rating: AS Monaco / France / 84
Why is he meta? Inaki Williams was the tempting pick here, but the French flavour elsewhere means I have to roll with Ben Yedder. At 5 foot 7 his low centre of gravity enables the swift turning of glacial-footed defenders, with a deadly 84-pace/83-shooting combo then enabling him to burst into space and rocket shots at the onion bag.
Strong links: Allan Saint-Maximin (LM, 80), Moussa Sissoko (CM, 79), Anthony Martial (ST, 84)
Base item cost: 9,500 coins
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