On the face of Leicester’s ever-more-unbelievable ascent to last season’s Premier League, the goals of Jamie Vardy and the flash of Riyad Mahrez appeared to be the main drivers. However, this season has confirmed what many already knew — N’Golo Kante was both Leicester’s real star and, arguably, the division’s best player.
He deservedly received a substantial upgrade for FIFA 17 to reflect his performances, but this — coupled with his big-money move to Chelsea — led to an equally substantial increase in his average price within Ultimate Team. 500 coins for a 78-rated non-rare card last year became 16500 for his winter upgrade 83-rated rare card this year (you can pick up his original 81-rated card for around half that).
Now, unlike Bargain Basement #1, I’m not proposing a like-for-like change with identical stats — Kante’s even spread of stats and insane levels of stamina rightly come at a premium. However, you can get pretty close for a lot less money and, somewhat ironically, the ideal facsimile is the man Leicester bought in real-life to replace him — Nampalys Mendy.
Looking uncannily similar to Kante’s original FIFA 16 card, Mendy starts life as a CDM. However, a quick search of the transfer market will enable you to pick him up as a CM for around 1000 coins, and this is where his real value lies as a box-to-box midfielder, thanks to his high defensive workrate, medium attacking workrate and 89 stamina.
With a physical rating of 80, he’s not afraid to throw his 5’6” frame into tackles and blocks, and with four other stats above 70, Mendy is all-action and perfect as one-third of a three-man midfield. As the additional cherry on top, that Shooting rating of 55 is somewhat deceiving — he’s surprisingly adept from outside the box and his 3-star weak foot means he’s not afraid to shoot with left or right.
Add all of this up, along with the small outlay required and his chemistry-friendly league and nationality (making him perfect for cheap hybrid squads), and Mendy might actually be one of the best value-for-money cards in the game. If you’re more concerned with winning than showing off, then Mendy’s your man.