Gio Reyna pulling the strings with Joshua Zirkzee up front - this team could conquer world football a few seasons into your next Football Manager 2020 save. - © DFL
Gio Reyna pulling the strings with Joshua Zirkzee up front - this team could conquer world football a few seasons into your next Football Manager 2020 save. - © DFL

Gio Reyna, Joshua Zirkzee and the players you should sign if you want to win at Football Manager 2020 if not today, then tomorrow

Football Manager is not for the faint of heart, but if you’re in it for the long haul then the likes of Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna and Bayern Munich’s Joshua Zirkzee are some seriously talented Bundesliga stars-in-the-making for you to build a dynasty around.

To help you get ahead of the game, has mined the Football Manager 2020 database to unearth the young gems with the most potential for you to sign in your next save.

You won’t need your scouting pool to tell you that Kai Havertz and Jadon Sancho are two Football Manager game-changers, so we’ve picked out the German-based players with the highest Potential Ability (PA) or Potential Ability Range (PAR), that are 22 or under, a natural in each position of the game’s favoured 4-2-3-1 formation, and have played fewer than 10 Bundesliga matches.

Christian Früchtl
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Goalkeeper
Age: 20

Will Christian Früchtl (r.) step out of Manuel Neuer's (l.) shadow in your next FM20 save? - Getty Images

Big things are expected of the 6’4”, Germany U20 international at the Allianz Arena, who started training with the Bayern seniors from the age of just 15. Früchtl hasn’t gone unnoticed by the creators at Football Manager either, who have the 20-year-old’s current ability at a very decent looking 106 out of 200 and his PAR is 120-150 depending on your managerial savvy on the club’s Säbener Strasse training ground.

A natural sweeper-keeper that’s good with both feet and built very much in the same mould as Bayern and Germany No.1 Manuel Neuer, Früchtl’s standout attributes of Rushing Out (16 out of 20), Agility (15) and One On Ones (14) will only get better, as will his Composure (15) and ability in Important Matches (15), which suggest he will be the rock of your team for years to come.

Josha Vagnoman
Club: Hamburg
Position: Right-back
Age: 19

Josha Vagnoman is already trusted in Hamburg's biggest games, like their local derby with St. Pauli. - DFL

Vagnoman became HSV’s youngest-ever Bundesliga player when he came off the bench with his side 4-0 down at Bayern in the eventual 6-0 loss on March 10, 2018. Aged just 17 years, two months and 27 days, Vagnoman will remember his sole Bundesliga appearance to date with conflicting emotions, but the now 19-year-old has since established himself on the right-hand side of the Red Shorts' defence and featured seven times in Bundesliga 2 this season prior to a foot injury that has kept him sidelined since October.

He inked a new three-year deal at the club earlier in April and it’s clear those at Football Manager HQ agree with Hamburg sporting director Michael Mutzel that Vagnoman is “very talented”. In the realm of FM20, his PA stands at 151, while Vangoman’s ability to play on each flank as either a traditional full-back or a wing-back contributes to some very useful Versatility (16) that managers, both virtual and real-life, crave.

Armel Bella-Kotchap
Club: VfL Bochum
Position: Centre-back
Age: 18

Armel Bella-Kotchap (l.) kept Robert Lewandowski (r.) from scoring when Bohum met Bayern in the DFB Cup in October. - imago images

The 18-year-old centre-half - who begins the game aged just 17 - has had a breakout 2019/20 season so far, establishing himself as the Bochum bedrock and putting in a stunning performance against Bayern in the DFB Cup that so cruelly ended in both defeat and the teenager’s late sending off. In fact, he has already been touted by as one of the country’s NextGen superstars and his Football Manager pedigree only serves to further support our case.

Bella-Kotchap has the PAR of 140-170 on FM20 and - for perspective - should he hit the top of that bracket, he would better Mats Hummels’ Current Ability (CA) of 166. Physically, the former Borussia Mönchengladbach youth player is outrageous, already in the game’s shiny blue territories of 15 and above stats for Strength, Pace and Jumping Reach. Mentally, physically and technically, Bella-Kotchap has it all and should you nurture his talent successfully, you’ll have a world-class centre-back on your hands in no time.

Edmond Tapsoba
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Centre-back
Age: 21

Edmond Tapsoba (l.) is honing his craft alongside one of the best in Jonathan Tah (r.) at Bayer Leverkusen. - DFL

For some, Tapsoba will have been a player they were telling their friends about for months and willing their clubs to sign before Die Werkself swooped for the Burkina Faso centre-back at the end of January. There would have been communal “told you so”s uttered the world over as soon as the 21-year-old stepped into the Bayer fold and helped instigate the club’s 10 match unbeaten run (W9, D1) that was only halted by the coronavirus.

Tapsoba’s Composure (16), Consistency and Decisions (both 15) are remarkable for such a young player, while his physical and technical attributes are just as good, including a 15 for passing that make him a natural fit as a ball-playing defender for managers wanting to play out of defence. That 16 for Penalty Taking will come in more than handy, too.

Luan Candido
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Left-back
Age: 19

Left sider Luan Candido is currently on loan at Red Bull Bragantino from RB Leipzig. - imago images

A Brazil U20 international, Candido was signed by Leipzig as an 18-year-old last year but is yet to make a senior appearance for the Saxony outfit and is currently on-loan at Red Bull Bragantino in his homeland. Then coach Ralf Rangnick described Candido as a “very versatile” player that can “play anywhere on the left side”, and it is little surprise that the views of “The Professor” are shared by Football Manager’s myriad of scouts.

In fact, Candido can not only play at his preferred left-back, or LB, but also: WBL, ML, AMLCR and STC, a grouping for three-letter acronyms that will leave any FM-head salivating at the possibilities with Candido in their squad. His PAR stands at 130-160 and he has all the potential to develop into a star, but you’ll need to get your hands on him early to make sure Candido hits the upper echelons of that range thanks to some astute development on the training ground and as much exposure to top-quality first-team football as possible.

Sergio Gomez
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Centre-midfield
Age: 19

Sergio Gomez's (l.) low centre of gravity and close ball control help make him a thrilling prospect at Borussia Dortmund. - imago images

Touted by some as “the next Andres Iniesta”, Gomez was described by Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc as “undoubtedly one of the best players of his age in the world.” It’s easy to see why, with the 19-year-old La Masia graduate already a FIFA U17 World Cup runner-up and winner of the European Championships with Spain at both U17 and U19 levels.

It is little wonder then that this wonderkid boasts a PAR of 150-180 and is a ready-made playmaker to boss your midfield for years to come. His Technique (17), Vision (16) and First Touch (16) prove just that, while his preferences of playing one-twos and curling the ball further highlight the artistry that Gomez will bring to your midfield.

Exequiel Palacios
Club: Bayer Leverkusen
Position: Centre-midfield
Age: 21

Control and distribution are just two of the attributes which make Exequiel Palacios (r.) such a shrewd acquisition for Bayer Leverkusen. - DFL

Like Tapsoba, Palacios is a Leverkusen signing that Football Manager players will have been boasting to their friends about for some time prior to his move to Leverkusen. It does make you wonder whether Peter Bosz and his scouting department have themselves been putting the hours in on FM. If so, they too would testify to Palacios’ quality on the game as a deep-lying playmaker that sees the Argentina international develop into a world-class centre-mid.

Palacios’ PA is 155, which is the same level that former Leipzig man Naby Keita is operating from at the start of the game. High stats for Vision, Passing and Technique will come as no surprise, but his 15+ attributes for Bravery, Aggression, Determination and Work Rate may do. It makes Palacios a well-rounded midfielder, who could prove the difference between you lobbing your laptop out the window and donning a suit for a cup final. 

Fabrice Hartmann
Club: RB Leipzig
Position: Right-wing
Age: 18

Fabrice Hartmann (l.) has eight goals to his name at youth level for Germany. - Getty Images

You could be forgiven for not knowing too much about Hartmann but that will soon change should you get him under your charge on Football Manager. At just 18, Hartmann’s potential is pretty astonishing with a PAR of 130-160 for a teenager yet to feature for Julian Nagelsmann’s senior side. Hartmann has, however, featured once on the Leipzig substitutes bench in the Bundesliga this season - in the 3-1 win over Union Berlin on Matchday 18 - while he’s also bagged five goals and six assists in 16 league appearances for the club’s U19s.

His real-life penchant for both providing and scoring goals will be very handy should they translate into your FM save for a player who is best deployed as an inside forward from the right-wing but can also play on the left or up-front. His First Touch, Finishing, Dribbling and Pace are already all above double figures and will only get better.

Gio Reyna
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Position: Attacking midfield
Age: 17

Watch: Reyna living the dream at BVB

A record-breaking teenager with footballing royalty running through his blood and a likeness to Kaka, Reyna is an impatient superstar in waiting. The Dortmund attacker’s rise has been astonishing this season, forcing Lucien Favre’s hand in fast-tracking his ascent into the Signal Iduna Park first-team fold. And should you be lucky enough to get Reyna in your ranks on FM, you might want to do the very same.

Aged just 16 at the start of the game, Reyna’s CA is already 121 and his PAR 140-170. His Work Rate (15), Dribbling (14) and Finishing (13) stand out from the very off and, best deployed as a shadow striker or advanced playmaker behind the striker or from the left, Reyna will turn into a special player with the right management. As Favre put it himself earlier this year: “If you can’t see that, you’re blind.”

Oliver Batista Meier
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Left-wing
Age: 19

Oliver Batista Meier (No.25) could be curling home a free-kick for you soon. - imago images

The Kaiserslautern-born youngster - who has represented both Germany and Brazil at youth international level - has made four of Bayern’s matchday squads this season, without making his senior debut. But coach Hansi Flick and his staff clearly recognise Batista Meier’s talent, which has seen the winger hit an astonishing 12 goals and seven assists in just 11 league appearances for Bayern’s U19s, as well as 14 outings for the reserves in the third division.

And the 19-year-old will be knocking on your door for first-team opportunities too on Football Manager. A PAR of 130-160 proves the obvious potential for a man who can play on either wing and has notable attributes for Technique (16), Dribbling (15) and Finishing (13) for such a young player. Throw in his penchant for placing shots, playing one-twos and curling the ball and you have a highly gifted player on your books.

Joshua Zirkzee
Club: Bayern Munich
Position: Striker
Age: 18

Watch: Zirkzee's Man of the Matchday performance against Freiburg

Zirkzee’s Bayern career so far has been the stuff of Football Manager dreams. We’ve all been there: One last throw of the dice in the shape of your 18-year-old striker in the dying embers, desperately hoping for something, anything, to land your way. It’s only that, normally, it doesn’t quite pay off in the same emphatic way as Zirkzee’s match-winning turn against Freiburg where he scored with his first touch, let alone does it happen the following week like it did against Wolfsburg for the Dutch teenager.

It seems a stretch for reality but this is a young man with his sights set on eventually replacing Robert Lewandowski, whose development was described by Flick as “remarkable.” That should encourage managers hoping to extract even a shred of Zirkzee’s real-life magic in their virtual worlds and his PAR of 150-180 means there’s a high chance of doing just that. His Finishing and First Touch are already both 15s, while his love of lobbing the keeper should add some real panache to your front line, too.