For staunch FIFA fans, the release of a new title causes great excitement. The quality of the gameplay and the new features added to the in-game experience are two of the main things players will look out for. However, in a close second place, exploring what players have the best rating is usually the next port of call. Although FIFA is a gaming dynasty, there is still scope for it to expand and make more profit in other areas of gaming.
We won’t include any legacy players you can unlock as part of special packages on Ultimate Teams today, nor will we include players whose form over-inflates their actual rating on the game. So we can have this list as solid as possible, we will only include players and their original ratings if you were to select them in an offline exhibition mode. Player ratings are big news and one of the main criteria that drive the popularity of each FIFA release, but it still pails in comparison to the popularity of other games, such as League Of Legends.
Although it’s a different genre, both games have their eSports leagues, the measuring stick. One key reason FIFA trails so far behind is that they release the game annually, so when players get used to the latest version, a fresh one is released with different tweaks.
Although League of Legends has updates, the game has remained the same since its release in 2009. Streaming services like Twitch see immense activity during the top tournaments. League of Legends at the best eSports platform, Twitch, draws in millions of digital spectators, and FIFA barely breaks half a million, so this will be something that EA Sports will be keen to reverse over the next few years.
#5 – Zinedine Zidane – FIFA 05
Widely considered the most outstanding midfielder of his generation, the World Cup-winning, multi-Ballon d’Or winner defined his era. But, perhaps unfairly remembered for his red card in his final game at the 2006 World Cup Final, Zidane was so much more than that. For those who watched him perform his artistry on the pitch during the late 1990s and early 2000s, it was as close to pure football as possible.
This is reflected in the attacking midfielders’ rating in FIFA 05 when he was at the peak of his powers and rated at 96 overall. However, he was only the third highest-rated player in the game.
#4 – Gianluigi Buffon – FIFA 05
Italy’s charismatic and legendary Gigi Buffon is the highest-rated goalkeeper that has ever graced the game of FIFA; at his peak, he was quite comfortably the best goalkeeper on the planet. Many Italians consider him one of their greatest-ever players, not just the most outstanding goalkeeper, an accolade that would be more than sufficient.
He does have a World Cup winners medal but failed to lift the Champions League, with his team Juventus, failing three times at the final hurdle. However, he was sublime individually, and his 97 rating exemplifies that.
#3 – Thierry Henry – FIFA 05
In the early 2000s, Arsenal was one of the best teams English football had seen for a long time. With the tenacious balance of Henry and Vieira, but the angelic technical prowess of Dennis Bergkamp and Robert Pires, the team was revered throughout England, and Henry was at the top of his game in 2005. EA Sports recognized this, and it was difficult not to, but they graced him with an excellent rating of 97.
#2 – Luis Figo – FIFA 02
Portuguese winger Figo was one of the greatest wingers on the planet in 2002. However, his poorly thought-out transfer from Barcelona to their arch-rivals Real Madrid resulted in venom and vitriol rarely seen at Camp Nou. In one infamous incident, a pig’s head was thrown at him.
Figo was rated 97 overall on FIFA 02, so the anger at Camp Nou was fierce. But, if anything, it shows how loved he was in Catalonia and how skillful and magical he was during his playing days there.
For the sake of balance, Matteo Brighi was rated 97 overall on FIFA just one year later. Don’t worry; we had to look him up as well. At one point, he was considered the brightest Italian defender of his generation. Although he had a modest career, few people outside of Italian football would have heard of him.
#1 – Ronaldo – FIFA 04
The absence of Messi and Cristiano from this list is telling. However, it should give you some indication as to how highly-rated Brazilian Ronaldo was in his prime. Many consider his prime to have been in the late 1990s before many serious knee injuries wrote him off.
However, FIFA 04 had the Ballon d’Or, 2002 World Cup, and World Cup Golden Boot Winner rated 98. No player in the game’s history has ever hit this rating before. El Phenomenon was a global crossover superstar. You only have to look at the highest rating of today’s superstar strikers to see just how highly Ronaldo was rated.
Although Messi and Cristiano also enter the GOAT debate, in terms of purely natural ability, the untamed force of nature flew around Europe’s top leagues making a mockery of some of the world’s best defenders.