This ended up being a rather lengthy recollection of thoughts on how to improve FUT by diminishing the p2w aspect, making low tier cards viable again and diverting from the ultra-competitive dogma.
Let's start with ICONS. As a representation of the very best players to grace the sport, we need a massive clean up. We can't be having Pele and Nakata in the same category, i'm sorry. Just no. Moreover, ICONS have proven to be a disaster with 85-90% of them ended up being overpriced SBC fodder.
Note: Some of those deprecated ICONS could potentially be introduced in the form of flashbacks (of their prime moment at their respective club at the time).
The solution to the ICON bloat: maximum of 20 icons per game cycle. Make them a very rare packs drop AND long-term objective grind.
How to realistically obtain these ICONS?
You should be able to start the grind on game release and complete it at a reasonable casual pace at around TOTY. More tenacious efforts should accelerate the process (perhaps based off an algorithm measuring a mixture of skill rating, games played and performance). Which means roughly 1 month long grind per icon at "tryhard" pace.
Moreover, attach weekly sbcs required as steps to long-term completion. Each icon should have unique objectives and requirements associated with the player. For instance, this could be part of a long-term completion of Ronaldinho 95:
"Embark on the journey of the legendary Ronaldo de Assis Moreira by following his footsteps to glory"... (insert your desired prosaic roleplay narrative).
The next step would be to enter/start this specific campaign/scenario/journey (or whatever you want to call it) by completing an initial SBC that is worth X coins.
You are now granted a live Ronaldinho card rated 80 (YES, bear with me) which you are required to use on this journey.
Attention! This is a live untradeable ICON card that reflects YOUR progress in this game! You will have to play with it continuously and complete side objectives to upgrade this card fully (up to maximum of 95) all live!
Your introductory step of this journey would be to take on the challenge of playing ONLINE with players from the Brazilian league, surrounded by x players from Gremio (Gremio is the home club of R10) required in the team. I would imagine a certain amount of wins would be necessary to proceed to the next stage BUT your performance with Ronaldinho will always be key to progress so a loss is seldom a dealbreaker.
Now, as a nod and honor to the player (R10 in this example), naturally the playstyle will revolve around skill moves, dribbling and flair. And so, bonus progress shall be granted for joga bonito...
This is all just 15 minutes of brainstorming on paper that I wanted to share with you guys and clearly there are grand possibilities of refining these simple ideas. As you can see, there is so much goodies that we miss out on by conforming to the p2w structure and plain mediocrity from a billion dollar corporation.
The solutions are there, the ball is in your court EA.