• Angus McGregor

FIFA 21 Ultimate Team: Top 11 Scottish Players

A new season means a new edition of the hit EA football game FIFA, with 'FIFA 21' being the 28th instalment of the series. With new squad updates based off transfers and, supposedly, recent performances, a main part of the game that becomes heavily scrutinised is the player ratings. How football fans rate players is extremely subjective, with every fan having hints of bias towards their own players and against their rivals, leading to large discussion and debate.

In Scotland, it's to no surprise that we're no different, as can be seen clearly whenever there is a National Team squad announcement. The comment sections are filled with angry punters fuming that their club's star man isn't in the squad or claiming the manager favours a certain side regardless of performances. With this, the Fifa ratings are sure to ruffle some feathers up here but in the end, they are harmless and not worth getting so worked up about - even if it is a travesty Lyndon Dykes is only a 69 this year.

With an international break coming very soon and the release of FIFA 21, there's no better time to look at the current crop of Scottish players and see who EA claim our current best players are. An honourable mention must go to Kenny Dalglish, who appears in the game as an Icon with a high rating of 90 for Scotland's all-time top goalscorer, making him the highest-rated Scottish player in the game. However, this list is about the current players only, with a list of the top 11 players due to matching ratings. With this in mind, let's see who made the cut.

Somehow Absent: Ryan Fraser

As I started compiling this list, there seemed to be glaring exclusion from the FIFA database. For some reason, recent Newcastle signing Ryan Fraser seems to be absent from Ultimate Team with no trace of his ratings able to be found. The former Bournemouth man was an 81 rated player in FIFA 20 but after an unproductive season and relegation for the Cherries, he is surely destined for a downgrade. It's quite weird to have the game out for certain people and not have up to date signings from almost a month ago. Callum Wilson signed for the same club on the same day but is somehow in the game, making this exclusion extremely bizarre.

11. James Forrest: 76 Rated, 1962 Total In-Game Stats

James Forrest is very much one of those polarising players who divides opinion, even within the support of his own club. The winger undoubtedly has quality but many question the Celtic man's consistency each season due to his tendency to have quiet spells throughout the season. Nonetheless, Forrest has notched 38 goal contributions in consecutive seasons for his club, with a memorable hat-trick against Israel in 2018 building his reputation even further. It's hard to argue with Forrest's rating based on his stats from the last few seasons as he has been a key part in the club's current 9 in a row success, with hopes of building onto that this season. Forrest's contributions were not enough for him to avoid a -1 downgrade, with the winger dropping down to a 76 in Fifa 21.

10. Tom Cairney: 76 Rated, 1992 Total In-Game Stats

For years, Scotland fans have constantly heard about what a talent Tom Cairney is, with Fulham fans bemused that their captain only has 6 caps for the National Team. The promotions of Fulham in recent seasons have got Scotland fans excited but we've yet to see Cairney properly step up to the Premier League level, although he hasn't shown his capabilities just yet. Cairney's Fulham sides have really struggled in the top flight, meaning Scotland fans will need to have been clued up on the Championship to see the midfielder at his supposed best. With stern competition in midfield - we'll get to some of those later - Cairney has struggled to get back into the Scotland team, with his last cap coming in February 2012 against the Netherlands. If Cairney can be a part of a side that revive Fulham this season, he could very well wiggle back into contention and hopefully showcase some performances similar to that during his time in the Championship. Despite another successful spell in the Championship, Cairney has lost 2 ratings, going from a 78 to a 76 although his stats have remained almost identical.

9. Stuart Armstong: 76 Rated, 2079 Total In-Game Stats

One of the midfielders who has kept the aforementioned Cairney out of Scotland squads is Southampton's Stuart Armstrong, who is able to play in the middle of midfield or out wide. Listed as a right midfielder, Armstrong has spent the majority of his career in a more central position but seems to have breathed new life under manager Ralph Hasenhuttl. Southampton had a rejuvenation in the second half of last season with Danny Ings gaining most of the plaudits for the Saints good form. However, Armstrong played a big part in Saints climbing up the table to 11th place when it looked certain they'd be in a relegation battle. Due to his form, Armstrong has earned a +1 upgrade going from a 75 to a 76 this edition, with improvements being made to all of this base stats bar his pace.

8. John McGinn: 76 Rated, 2083 In-Game Stats

Possibly the most underrated Scottish player on the game this season, John McGinn has only earned a +1 upgrade, despite another good season for Aston Villa. His first season in the Premier League was hampered by an injury that surely seems to be the reason as for why his upgrade isn't a lot more as McGinn deserves more than just scraping a gold card. The former St Mirren man finds himself level with the likes of Jack Wilshere and Theo Walcott, and in all honesty, should be clear of some of the players on this list. McGinn's performance against Fulham this season showcased the midfielder's quality and with Aston Villa improving, we hope the former Hibs man can really kick on this season. With a goal and 3 assists this season, including a great performance in the 7-2 win over Liverpool, McGinn's stock is continuously rising and will surely have suitors lurking around him should he keep up this good form.

7. Robert Snodgrass: 77 Rated, 2007 Total In-Game Stats

Despite having less in-game stats than both Stuart Armstrong and John McGinn, West Ham's Robert Snodgrass finds himself one rating higher than his former international teammates due to EA's weird way of rating players. West Ham were not overly impressive last season as many new signings and big names failed to deliver for the Hammers allowing Snodgrass to gain more opportunities. The former Livingston winger was involved in the second-most goals for the Irons last season, outdoing the likes of Felipe Anderson, Pablo Fornals and Andriy Yarmolenko. Now at age 33, Snodgrass' best years will be behind him but the left-footed winger still possesses a massive danger from crossing situations and still has a deadly ping on him. Snoddy has been restricted to League Cup action this season and will likely play out the season as a squad player but he certainly isn't a bad option to bring on when chasing a goal, especially with the danger he brings from dead-ball situations.

6. Callum McGregor: 77 Rated, 2087 Total In-Game Stats

The highest-rated player from the Scottish Premiership - alongside Shane Duffy - Callum McGregor sits at a respectable 77, a decent rating considering how EA rate players from the SPFL. McGregor seems to be the latest Scottish talent in the Premiership to be linked with a move down south and for good reason, he is a quality player. McGregor is a jack of all trades, possessing a great engine and footballing mind that make him an all-action midfielder. He can get stuck in and break up play but is also more than capable in front of goal meaning he can be deployed in a number of areas in midfield, as well as deputising at left-back at times. A favourite at Celtic Park, should McGregor stay in Glasgow, he will become the natural successor to long term captain Scott Brown although keeping him may be tough.

5. Matt Ritchie: 77 Rated, 2104 Total In-Game Stats

Born and raised on the South coast of England, Ritchie qualifies to play for Scotland through his Scottish father, earning 16 caps along the way. Ritchie emerged into the Scotland squad and seemed like he would end up becoming a key player, scoring 3 times and assisting twice in his first 8 games at International level. A series of injuries and a decision by the player himself to not be selected has seen Ritchie's last cap come in March 2018. Ritchie has remained a key part of the Newcastle team under both Rafa Benetiz and Steve Bruce, only missing out on a chunk of the season due to a lengthy ankle injury. Despite this, Ritchie has gone up 2 ratings with a position -conversion from left-wing-back to a right midfielder. With his high energy and defensive work-rate, should Ritchie stay accustomed to the right-hand side, he could wind up being a decent solution for Scotland to play as a right-wing-back, should he want to be in contention again. With the lack of players we have in that position, he would not be a bad option at all.

4. John Fleck: 77 Rated, 2145 Total In-Game Stats

John Fleck burst onto the scene with comparisons to Wayne Rooney that heaped even more pressure on the then 18-year old. Fleck was never able to live up to that impossible standard at Rangers but has done extremely well in reviving his career following his move from his boyhood club. With a good spell at Coventry, Fleck would join Sheffield United where he has been a very key part of the Blades success in recent seasons. Fleck took to the Premier League excellently last season, with a personal record scoring campaign and impressive performances against top clubs. Due to this, Fleck has earned a great upgrade from a 73 rated silver to a 77 rated gold, with his performances in the last year clearly capturing the eye as Fleck helped Sheffield finish 9th, the highest position the club have finished in since 1992.

3. Kieran Tierney: Rated 78, 2041 Total In-Game Stats

The rating of Kieran Tierney is a prime example of how these ratings can be utterly bewildering at times. A list of Premier League left-backs rated higher than Tierney include Luke Shaw (81), Oleksandr Zinchenko (80), Danny Rose (79) and Emerson (79), who to be quite frank are not at all better than the former Celtic defender. Of course, Tierney's injury issues will be the reason as to why he is lower than these players, as injuries caused Tierney to only gain 15 league appearances last season. Despite this, Tierney has gone up 2 ratings for FIFA 21 with his end of season performances highly impressing. When Tierney has been fit, he's been excellent in Mikel Arteta's side, playing either left-back or as a left centre-back with great composure and quality. Hopefully, Tierney can have an injury-free season where he can really kick on and prove his worth for the Gunners and also for the National Team.

2. Scott McTominay: Rated 79, 2123 Total In-Game Stats

McTominay is Lancaster born but his dad hails from Helensburgh allowing McTominay to play for Scotland. The effort from then Scotland manager Alex McLeish seemed to sway the midfielder who had been tipped for Scotland by legendary managers Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho. McTominay was favoured early in the 2019/20 season but an injury took him out of the starting XI as Nemanja Matic regained form to keep him out of the team once he returned. McTominay will need to take his chances when they come to him in Manchester and may find himself starting soon again as his club has been massively underperforming so far this season. The Lancaster born midfielder will be hoping to get back into the starting XI soon enough as it won't help his chances of starting for Scotland either, with the likes of McGinn, Fleck and McGregor playing every week. With 37 appearances and 5 goals, McTominay has also gone up 2 ratings, with improvements on all of his base ratings.

1. Andrew Robertson: 87 Rated, 2160 Total In-Game Stats

To absolutely no surprise, the number 1 Scotland player in FIFA 21 Ultimate Team is Liverpool's Andrew Robertson. A whopping 8 ratings ahead of McTominay in second place, it is no secret that Robertson has been head and shoulders above any of his compatriots in recent years as he has reached a world-class level in this Liverpool team. Robertson possesses all the attributes needed for a modern-day full-back as his high energy, pace and crossing makes him an attacking threat down the left-hand side. Robertson is also more than capable as a defender, an attribute a stunning amount of full-backs these days seem to have forgotten about. With 12 assists as Liverpool ended their 30-year wait for a league title, Robertson is part of a historic Liverpool team that has lit up the Premier League and Champions League in recent seasons. Robertson's performances have seen him selected in last years UEFA and Premier League's Team of the Year as he has been the standout full-back alongside teammate Trent Alexander-Arnold in the past two seasons. With this, Robertson has deservedly earned a +2 upgrade, going up to an 87 rating, level with the likes of Luka Modric, Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang and Luis Suarez. As the International break is coming, we could really do with Robertson producing a display like his usual Liverpool self if Scotland are to have any hope of qualifying for the European Championships.

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