Manchester United have been blessed with some of the best players in the world in the 21st century – but who does FIFA rate as their strongest XI of the past decade?
We were going to do their best FIFA XI of all time, but EA Sports were pretty generous with their ratings in the early years, meaning Wes Brown and John O’Shea would have made the side as full-backs and Tim Howard was ahead of Edwin van der Sar in the pecking order.
So we’ve instead taken a closer look at their best players from the game since FIFA 09, arranging them in a classic 4-4-2 formation.
Had we included earlier ratings, the 2005 vintage of Tim Howard would have bested any of Edwin van der Sar’s Manchester United iterations, but both are still second best to De Gea, who has steadily improved on the game over the past few seasons, hitting a peak rating of 91 in the past two editions.
With Gary Neville past his best during the years we’re including – although both John O’Shea and Wes Brown were rated higher in 2005 – Valencia gets the nod at right-back, with his highest rating coming in 2012.
Amid all the positivity surrounding Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it’s easy to forget that Valencia remains at Old Trafford, albeit seemingly frozen out with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.
At his peak in the first year we’re starting from, Ferdinand forms one half of an entirely predictable centre-back pairing.
The other half of said partnership, Vidic’s 2012 best actually beats Ferdinand’s highest rating over this period – although the England international was handed a whopping 92 in 2005.
Had we included the earlier years, O’Shea would have worked his way into this position with a rating of 85 in 2005, but it only feels right that Evra finds himself selected thanks to his ratings in 2009 and 2010.
Ronaldo was at Real Madrid come FIFA 2010 but obviously makes the cut having already established himself as one of the world’s two best players in 2009.
Midfield was a contentious position, with Paul Scholes, Angel Di Maria and Bastian Schweinsteiger all recording ratings of 85 across various editions of the game.
But Pogba goes straight in with the highest rating since rejoining United from Juventus. Don’t tell Graeme Souness, although we can’t imagine he’s a big fan of FIFA anyway.
Okay, this is a bit Garth Crooks, but Mata is listed as a CAM in 2014 so we’re just going to have to ask Pogba to be the more defensive central midfielder (don’t tell Graeme Souness etc).
It shows just how high Mata’s stock was when he joined United, having established himself as one of Chelsea and the Premier League’s most consistent creative midfielders before falling out with Jose Mourinho at Stamford Bridge.
NEW VIDEO: I PLAY JUAN MATA AT FIFA 16!!! http://t.co/wFgz6b4VHj
— Spencer FC (@SpencerOwen) October 6, 2015
Well, this is awkward.
We’re past Giggs’ best years as a left winger at this point which we thought would open the door for Nani (peak rating of 85 alongside another awkward choice in Henrikh Mkhitaryan).
But Sanchez storms into the side with a rating which is owed to his performances for Arsenal rather than his displays for the Red Devils.
Just edging out Robin van Persie, Ibrahimovic’s rating is all the more impressive considering he was 34 years old at the time of his move to Old Trafford.
Given he was the cover star of 2012, it seems only right that year’s edition of Rooney makes the cut in this side.
In 2017, the Daily Star reported Rooney plays FIFA online against strangers under the Game of Thrones-inspired pseudonym Jon Snow.