Ronaldo, Messi, De Bruyne: The highest-rated player for every FIFA 21 in-game attribute

  • Kobe Tong

EA Sports certainly caused a stir with their player ratings for FIFA 21.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Timo Werner were shockingly given downgrades, Serge Gnabry was slapped with just 82 pace and Thiago Alcantara was ranked below Jordan Henderson.

Romelu Lukaku even went as far as claiming that EA were making their decisions to spark publicity after he failed to receive an upgrade despite scoring 34 goals for Inter Milan last season.

FIFA 21 ratings

However, the dust seems to have settled on the controversy now that the game has hit the shelves, but that hasn't stopped us from going down a statistical rabbit hole.

That's because the FIFA ratings system is one of the most in-depth, objective(ish) studies of the world's best players and there's more to their methods than the player's overall number.

In fact, each player's rating is informed by 29 in-game attributes that are broken down into physical, skill and mental categories with everybody's data now available on


FIFA stats winners

We've already settled the Lionel Messi vs Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes vs Frank Lampard vs Steven Gerrard debates on FIFA 21, but now we're only interested in the big winners.

That's right, we've calculated who has the highest rating for all 29 attributes to discover the best finisher, best tackler and much, much more, so check out the final results down below:

In Game: Physical

Acceleration: Adama Traore (97)

Agility: Neymar (96)

Balance: Erhun Oztumer (97)


Jumping: Cristiano Ronaldo (95)

Reactions: Cristiano Ronaldo (95)

Sprint speed: Aníbal Chalá, Adama Traore, Alphonso Davies and Kylian Mbappe (96)

Stamina: Vladimír Darida (97)

Strength: Adebayo Akinfenwa (97)


Just in case there's any doubt about the fact Ronaldo is the ultimate footballing machine, let's all take a moment to appreciate that he wins two of the eight physical categories at 35 years old.

Meanwhile, I'm going to have to appeal to Charlton Athletic fans as to why Oztumer has better balance than Messi, while Hertha Berlin's Darida beating N'Golo Kante for stamina is another shock.

But there's no surprise to see Traore, Mbappe and Davies dominating their sprinting categories and fair play to Akinfenwa for maintaining his status as the world's strongest player for another year.


In Game: Skill

Ball control: Lionel Messi (96)

Crossing: Kevin De Bruyne (94)

Curve: Lionel Messi (93)

Dribbling: Lionel Messi (96)

Finishing: Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo (95)


Free kick: Lionel Messi (94)

Heading: Leonardo Pavoletti and Luuk de Jong (93)

Long passing: Kevin De Bruyne and Toni Kroos (93)

Long shots: Lionel Messi (94)

Defensive awareness: Giorgio Chiellini (94)

Penalties: Mark Noble, Raul Jimenez, Max Kruse, Neymar and Sergio Ramos (92)


Short passing: Kevin De Bruyne (94)

Shot power: Aleksandar Kolarov (95)

Sliding tackle: Radja Nainggolan, Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Sergio Ramos (90)

Standing tackle: Virgil van Dijk (93)

Volleys: Luis Suarez and James Rodriguez (90)


As the highest-rated player in the entire game, it should come as no surprise that Messi tops some of the key categories here with six attributes either being won or shared by the Barcelona superstar.

However, we're a little unsure about Messi and Ronaldo sharing the gold medal for finishing when you consider Robert Lewandowski should have won a Ballon d'Or for his 55 strikes in 2019/20.

Elsewhere, it's nice to see De Bruyne's passing getting the props it deserves and credit to Wan-Bissaka for joining an elite club of the ultimate slide-tacklers with Nainggolan and Ramos.

We're not entirely sure Neymar should be joining Noble and Ramos in the God tier of penalty takers, though, while Rodriguez's 2014 World Cup antics have probably seen his volley stats overrated.


In Game: Mental

Aggression: Klaus Gjasula (96)

Interceptions: N'Golo Kante and Mats Hummels (91)

Positioning: Cristiano Ronaldo (95)

Vision: Lionel Messi (95)

Composure: Lionel Messi (96)


So, according to FIFA 21, the world's most aggressive player is Hamburg's Gjasula who amassed 17 cautions in the 2019/20 Bundesliga, but hasn't been sent off in club football for seven years.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo and his elite footballing brain shines again with another victory and Kante is now forced to share his once-unassailable interceptions crown with Borussia Dortmund's Hummels.

But the round of applause is once again due for Messi as he bags another two victories, ensuring that eight of the 29 in-game attributes in FIFA 21 are bossed by its number one player.


Fair selections

For the most part, it must be said that EA Sports look to have gotten these selections spot on.

It's pretty hard to argue with Traore being crowned the fastest, Akinfenwa being named the strongest and Van Dijk having the best standing tackle in the business, so hats off to them.

However, after Oztumer is named the best-balanced player in the game for the second consecutive edition, I think I'm going to have to take a right-rope to The Valley to satisfy my curiosity.

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