Dexerto’s Team of the Year XI has been picked ahead of the upcoming FIFA 22 TOTY promo in-game, with Lionel Messi, Mohamed Salah, and Gianluigi Donnarumma named in our lineup.
Christmas festivities are behind us and just like last year, we’ve compiled the 11 players that have excelled the most in world football over the course of the year.
EA SPORTS will be opening the voting for Team of the Year at the beginning of 2022, usually in the form of a new website polling system, but that has not yet been opened.
In the absence of confirmed nominees, we are left to look at the big moments of the year. Italy delivered the biggest upset in English football history, as Gareth Southgate’s men were beaten on penalties by Roberto Mancini’s undefeated Blues. The Champions League trophy returned to Chelsea, as new manager Thomas Tuchel delivered the club’s second European Cup with a stunning 1-0 performance against Manchester City, with Kai Havertz scoring the decisive winner.
Across the major leagues on the continent, Man City, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Lille, and Inter Milan took home their domestic league titles – but who will make the cut in our Team of the Year?
FIFA 22 Team of the Year nominee picks
The outstanding goalkeeper of 2021 was Italy’s No.1, Gianluigi Donnarumma, fending off fierce competition from Ederson, Alisson Becker, and others.
Standing at 6ft 5, the shot-stopper was an immovable object in Italy’s EURO 2020 victory, and as many of his fans in AC Milan predicted all those years ago, he’s looking like the next Gianluigi Buffon. With Lionel Messi joining him in Paris, there’s a chance that 2022 could be even more exciting as the French giants eye up their first Champions League victory.
After the drama surrounding his omission from England’s pre-EURO teams, Trent Alexander-Arnold has undoubtedly stepped up another level for Liverpool.
The defender has an average of an assist every two games in the Premier League, scoring two goals since the start of the season. On top of his clear attacking prowess, the defender has improved tremendously with his defensive duties and has benefitted from a more stable partnership with Joel Matip and Ibrahima Konate.
At this rate, he might – once again – break the record for assists from a defender in one league campaign.
One of the most improved defenders in world football, Antonio Rudiger’s solidity and even creativity on the ball has taken Chelsea’s backline up a notch.
These qualities took the blue London club to their second European Cup and they have continued that defensive consistency in the Premier League since, with nine clean sheets in 19 matches – of which he’s featured in 18. In those matches, he’s scored two and assisted two, which won’t be surprising for those who watch Chelsea regularly, as he’s often darting up the field to join the attack.
He’s fended off strong competition from Ruben Dias, Sergio Ramos, Giorgio Chiellini, and Thiago Silva for this slot in our team, but his transformation has been worthy of a Team of the Year place this year for sure. World-class.
Between Chiellini and Bonucci – one of the greatest defensive partnerships of their generation – there needed to be some representation after their European Championship heroics.
With eight clean sheets in the current Serie A season, four in the group stage of the Champions League, and a phenomenal international showing, we’ve gone with Bonucci in our FIFA 22 TOTY.
Manchester City knew they were signing a good player when Cancelo came in during the 2019 summer transfer window, but not many will have expected such high quality in a variety of positions.
It could be argued that he’s among the best in the world in both fullback posts and even as a midfielder, where he’s operated sparingly for Pep Guardiola. Defensively solid, runs around all day like a machine, and has progressively added more goals to his game as well. Joao Cancelo is an exceptional footballer.
Back to his best. N’Golo Kante has won a league title with the two clubs he’s played at during his time in England – Leicester City, Chelsea – and rounded off with a Champions League winners medal in 2021.
Kante’s game has never looked so well-rounded, as a ball winner, passer, and even midfield attacker when needed. If he keeps playing like this, it won’t just be Team of the Year status that he can look forward to as even more trophies will be on the way. The Frenchman has, somehow, found another gear.
Kante’s teammate Jorginho has more high-profile accolades in 2021 than anybody on this list, after playing a pivotal role in Chelsea’s European success and Italy’s EURO victory.
The midfielder was rated as the third-best player in the world during the Balon d’Or ceremony and comfortably takes a slot in this year’s Team of the Year. A lot of his goals may be penalties, but that shouldn’t take away from his achievements.
Kevin De Bruyne
Kevin De Bruyne is the best midfielder in the world, which earns him a spot in our FIFA 22 TOTY.
The Belgian was included last year alongside Bruno Fernandes and Joshua Kimmich, but of the three he’ll be the lone survivor in the 2021 selections.
Guardiola’s decision to not buy a striker might sound like a risk from the outside looking in, but Manchester City fans will know just how good De Bruyne and others can be in front of goal. The 30-year-old midfielder netted six goals and created 12 assists in their Premier League winning season, and he’s already scored five in the campaign so far – where they’re top of the tree despite Chelsea and Liverpool’s early form.
The Egyptian king has been in the conversation of being the world’s best player since the start of 2021, but the end of the calendar year might mark the hottest run he’s been on in a red shirt. For Liverpool, he’s scored 15 and assisted nine others – meaning 22 goal involvements in 24 matches. The season before, he racked up 37 goal involvements in 51 appearances, too.
While Mo Salah was not named in the top five players at the Balon d’Or ceremony this year, his consistency of goals and increasing influence on Jurgen Klopp’s revived team will no doubt lead to silverware this season.
He’s perhaps the fastest elite attacker around right now, he’s the most lethal winger, and with those numbers, you just can’t leave him out of Team of the Year.
The goal machine that is Robert Lewandowski had to be picked.
Just this season, he’s scored 30 goals in 25 matches across all competitions. Last season, that number was 48 goals across 40 games. To be hitting those numbers at the age of 33 is madness, really, and put him in contention for the Balon d’Or – where he fell short to Lionel Messi.
Speaking of which, Lionel Messi is the final player in our Team of the Year.
In a year where he finally delivered the Copa America for Argentina and scooped the Balon d’Or to round off a season where he scored 38 goals in 67 games, it appears the Messi vs Ronaldo rivalry is starting to become a one-horse race. While Messi’s start to life at PSG hasn’t been very fruitful so far, the chances of him maintaining a slow goalscoring record are inconceivable.
So… there you have it! Those are our picks for FIFA 22 Team of the Year 2021. Once players are able to vote, those will be counted and 11 players will be granted extremely upgraded cards in Ultimate Team, so watch this space.
For more on FIFA 22, check out these other useful guides:
FIFA 22 TOTY: How to vote for Team of the Year nominees | Best FUT Strikers | Best FUT Midfielders | Best FUT Wingers | Best FUT Center-backs | Best FIFA 22 custom tactics | Best teams in FIFA 22 Career Mode