One of the teams I have always been very fond of is Internazionale Milan. The glorious Black and Blue giant has always had a very special place in the football section of my heart. The very reason I was so sucked into the beat of this team was the german trio that played for the Nerazzurri in the late 80´s and early 90´s. While Brehme and Klinsmann were exciting players it was Lothar Matthäus I was mesmerized with through my teenage years. Gigantic in both, his ego and his value for the teams he played, the commanding box to box midfielder was ever present in the minds of football fanatics around the world. Both hated and loved amongst the fans and his peers he left a gaping whole never to be properly filled when he left the field of play in the year 2000. Finishing his career with 150 caps for Germany, Five FIFA World Cup appearances, 1990 FIFA World Cup winner, 1980 UEFA EURO winner, 4 UEFA Euro appearances, 7 Bundesliga titles, 1 scudetto, 2 Uefa cups and many more accolades that would take forever to be mentioned here. He was and still is the only German player to win FIFA World Footballer of the year.
While I do know there have been some great midfield hidalgos after his career, I really want to concentrate on this article on players that are up and coming and could possibly claim his mantle in the world of Football Manager. Therefore I hope that you enjoy this list of 10 players who could be the next Lothar Matthaus. Some of the names are familiar and some are more unknown. All players are filtered to be 23 or under. Players presented are my picks and I reserve the right to feel this way. Feel free to post your suggestions in the comments.
#10: Atakan Attaynak (Bayern Leverkusen)
He is just 17 and has a lot of potential to be a beast in the middle. This prodigy is currently making strides in the Leverkusen youth ranks but as time progresses I am thinking he won’t stay hidden for too long. Rest assured, Leverkusen will not let him go easily. As german native, he fits the list perfectly.
#9 Danilo Cataldi (Lazio)
This enthusiastic Italian is already well known to the footballing world and also very desired to have in the game also. 21 years of age and already sits tightly in the middle of the biancocelesti formation. Possessing impressive physicals he is very promising in other areas as well. Moving him from Lazio will sting but might well be the deal of a lifetime.
#8 Fredrik Aursnes (Molde)
What is it with the Norwegians and their youth production anyway? While the star system of the game is not too excited about him, I am still seeing good things here. Aursnes is technically and mentally solid. His physicals might need some work but his price tag might turn out to be the factor when looking viable options to solidify your middle ground.
It´s almost all green for this Box to Box phenomenon! Porto team has to be super solid when they can send off players like Silva. Another “might be of value” option. The question mark here might be his composure but I am still expecting great things in his future with right kind of guidance and usage.
#6 Granit Xhaka (Arsenal)
This Swiss former BMG player proves that maybe Arsene can at least buy quality. Already on the brink of superstardom, he is only available for clubs with endless wallets. Maybe not the most nimble to dance around defenders he can hurt you in so many other ways. More of a playmaker than dynamic force to be reckoned with on the midfield, he still is someone not to be excluded while thinking of successor for his BMG alumni.
Maybe somebody in Milan thinks that lighting can strike twice in the same spot and they might be right with João Mário. 23-year old Portuguese player took steps towards great things in Sporting and Inter threw the money at them after the Euro 2016. His mentals are scary and he is a devastating passer opening defenses with great vision and precision. He will cost you a ton of money.
#4 Leonardo Capezzi (Sampdoria)
21-year old Sampdoria player falls into “maybe I can afford him” category on this list and rightfully so. This U21 regular is still honing his craft and waits for someone to pick him up for tutelage to greatness. A determined individual, he won´t stop trying to win until the whistle blows.
I could have picked more of value or more not so known players but I though we want to have the absolute young superstars competing for the legendary boots to fill. The remaining three names are the absolute “world class” echolen and rightfully so.
The gem of Madrid is a superstar in the making. Very strong mentally, he has the physical and technical ability to reach high above the legendary levels. Playing under Diego Simeone is just a smokescreen. He is waiting to be unleashed by someone who has the cash to spend.
#2 Marco Verratti (PSG)
He is World Class. One of the best midfielders in the game. He might be small but has more PPM´s than most of the squads combined. You would actually need the effort to make him play badly on your team. If you want him, it will be your record purchase and you might need to lie down after making that transaction.
#1 Paul Pogba (Man Utd)
If you can cope with the ever-changing eccentric hair styles, you are set with maybe the best individual in the game. Pogba has it all. Size, skill and mental attributes to control the game around him. This player will produce under any management. Ask Jose if you don´t believe me. You might need to want to manage Man Utd if ever wanting to field him in your save.
So there you go. My list of 10 players who could challenge to be the next Matthäus in Football Manager. There are a lot of other players of different ages who are as viable as these 10 but I really wanted to look for younger players to this list. Besides the obvious, I wanted to include some options that might need some nurturing to break into the commanding position. If you want to give your options or debate on mine, please feel free to tackle the subject in the comments.