Are you managing a club on a very tight budget? Have you spent your entire transfer budget on that big marquee signing, but your squad is still lacking some depth? Look no further! RealSport has scoured the FM17 player database to compile a guide for the best free agents on the game. These are players currently without a club and, thus, will not cost your club a dime in transfer fees. You will, however, have to pay them a weekly wage, of course. They’re usually in the twilight of their career, but it’s also possible to find some unattached young players.
Here are RealSport’s picks for FM17’s best free agents. To make it easy to understand, we’ve included current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA) in terms of their ‘star rating.’ Bear in mind, however, star ratings are relative and, for this article, I used Manchester United and a lesser team means these ratings will likely be higher.
Dimitar Berbatov (Striker, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5)
At age 35, Berbatov is certainly reaching the very last stages of his career, but he’d be a good addition to any squad, nonetheless. He’s a player with the flair for the impossible, but an infuriatingly poor work ethic. His technical attributes are still fantastic; 16 finishing, 20 first touch and 18 technique, though his work rate (6) and teamwork (11) means he places extra burden on his teammates and won’t fit a high-intensity, counter-pressing system. The Bulgarian striker is also fairly selfish, so make sure you surround him with hard-workers.
I think you should only sign Berbatov as a backup striker as his stamina (9) means he’s unlikely to be fit enough to play 90 minutes each week. He has bags of experience, but his recent goal-scoring record has been poor; he hasn’t scored over ten league goals since 2012/13. His wages are affordable, however, and he’ll ask for wages between £15,250 and £33,000 per week.
Antonio Di Natale (Striker, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5)
Another veteran striker of the game worth keeping an eye on is Antonio Di Natale. The 38-year-old Italian probably isn’t worth signing unless you’re a Championship club in desperate need of a striker as his age, coupled with his stamina (7), pace (10) and strength (6) means he isn’t a reliable option on a weekly basis. He does, however, have a wealth of international and club experience and his finishing (17), first touch (18) and technique (17) means he will definitely score you at least five or so goals.
Barring last season, he’s consistently scored over ten league goals since 2006/07. His direct free-kick taking (17) means he’s a good bet for set pieces, too. His age also means he’s composed (17), determined (17) and anticipates the ball effectively (17). Use Di Natale sparingly for the best results. Asking for wages between £14,750 and £32,000 per week means he’s pretty affordable.
Miroslav Klose (Striker, CA 3 - PA 3)
Again, the 38-year-old German striker isn’t a long-term solution but will be a suitable stopgap for a top Championship side or bottom to mid-table Premier League side if you’re looking for a quick fix goal-scorer. As expected, his mental attributes are outstanding. His anticipation is 19, decisions 17, teamwork 20, off the ball 17 and work rate 16. His age, clearly, hasn’t affected him in this regard and these stats make him an excellent role model for young strikers. His technical attributes, however, understandably let him down a little.
His dribbling (10), finishing (12) and first touch (14) aren’t good enough for a side looking challenge near the top. Asking for wages between £13,250 and £28,500 per week means he’s also equally as affordable as Berbatov and Di Natale.
Alex (Centre-back, CA 3 - PA 3)
At 34-years-old, the Brazilian centre-half doesn’t have the pace (9), natural fitness (10) or acceleration (8) to deal with pacey strikers anymore, but he’s extremely strong (19) and can still fill in adequately at the back. His positioning (16) means he can read the game fairly well so should be in the right place at the right time.
Additionally, his work rate (14), teamwork (16) and bravery (16) make him a great team player. His technical stats are also high for an ageing player on the decline; tackling 15, marking 16 and heading 16. His heading ability means he can also be a threat from set pieces. If you’re keen on Alex, get in there quick as he’s a free agent in high demand.
Martin Cáceres (Centre/Right-back, CA 3 - PA 3)
Perhaps the Uruguayan is a better choice than Alex because of his age and versatility: he’s still only 29-years-old, so will have a few seasons left in him, and is adept at playing either in the centre or the right side of defence, even as a right wingback. He does, however, start the game with a two or three-month injury (damaged Achilles tendon) and his lack of natural fitness (6) is reflected by a worrying lethargy in his game.
If he’s fit enough, though, his work rate (16), teamwork (14) and bravery (18) make him a great team player. His technical aspects are very similar to Alex’s: 16 tackling, 14 marking and 15 heading. Thus, Cáceres’s age, versatility and the potential for resale mean he’s probably a better option than his Brazilian counterpart. Moreover, he’ll also only ask for wages between £18,000 and £39,000 per week.
Diego Poyet (Defensive Midfielder, CA 2 - PA 3)
The 21-year-old Uruguayan defensive midfielder is a safe bet for an English club looking for a young, home-grown player. Having trained in England all his life, he counts towards the home-grown quota for both domestic and European competition. That aside, his natural fitness (16), strength (12) and stamina (12) make Poyet a decent athlete. His passing (14) and composure (15) mean he’s most adept as a deep-lying playmaker, though he’s versatile: his tackling (13), marking (13) and positioning (14) make him a decent enough ball-winning midfielder if that’s what your tactics require.
He’s extremely affordable (wages between £3,100 and £6,750) so he’s well suited for the Premier League’s bottom or Championship’s top clubs. At 21, he also has huge potential for resale, which is a plus when it comes to making a decision on Poyet.
Simão (Defensive Midfielder, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5)
At 27-years-old, the Mozambican defensive midfielder is an absolute steal and will fit straight in to the starting eleven for most Premier League sides, barring, perhaps, the top eight. His technical stats are impressive for a free agent, scoring 15s for tackling, marking, heading and positioning. Importantly, he actually scores highly on a number of notable attributes for a ball-winning midfielder, such as work rate, natural fitness, stamina and bravery (all 18).
It would be a mistake not to pick him up, whether as a starter or a backup. At 27, he also has the potential to be sold on after a year or two for a decent amount of money. He’s, by no means, a world-class player, but I think you’ll struggle to find anyone as solid as Simão for free. You have to remember, these players are costing you nothing.
Ronaldinho Gaúcho (Attacking Midfielder, CA 3 - PA 3)
This is more a free transfer for the iconic status that Ronaldinho brings with him. He’s affordable, asking for between £15,000 and £32,500, though he’s likely going to want to stay in the top flight. If you do decide to sign the 36-year-old Brazilian legend, your shirt sales will rise exponentially and he could provide a real financial boost in this sense, which is worth considering if you’re struggling financially. He'd also be a great influence to have in your dressing room.
Whilst his stamina (7), work rate (7) and teamwork (9) mean he’s selfish and can place a lot of the burden on his teammates, his ability, however, is still phenomenal. His technique, vision and flair are all 20, free-kick taking 19 and his first touch and dribbling 18. He’d be a fantastic addition to any squad for a season or two, but a word of caution: use him sparingly as there’s no way Ronaldinho will be able to complete 90 minutes on a weekly basis.
Raúl Meireles (Central Midfielder, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5)
At 33-years-old, Meireles, of Portugal, is definitely beyond the peak of his career, however, his versatility means he’s an extremely useful player to have in your squad, especially in the Championship where the games come thick and fast. His physical stats are not what they used to be, naturally, so use Meireles sparingly. However, as I’ve said, he’s versatile. He can take to the pitch as an advanced playmaker to change the game: first touch, passing and technique are all 14 and his decisions are 16.
His 13 tackling and 15 positioning mean he’s equally adept as a ball-winner in defensive midfield. Ultimately, his stats aren’t fantastic, but it’s his versatility as a central midfielder that makes him a useful free agent to monitor. He’s also pretty affordable, demanding weekly wages between £10,250 and £22,000.
Leonardo Pisculichi (Attacking Midfielder, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5)
Another player whose usefulness derives from his versatility. The 32-year-old Greek attacker won’t have much left in the tank, but he will be a good fit for the bottom half of the Premier League. His crossing, dribbling and flair (all 17) make him a good bet for a winger or inside forward on the left, however, his pace and acceleration (10) let him down in this aspect.
He can play wide left, but his best and natural position is as a central attacking midfielder. His first touch (17), passing (16) and technique (17) are impressive stats for a free advanced playmaker. He’s also a threat from set pieces as he his free kick taking is 19. Demanding roughly £11,750 per week, Pisculichi would be an affordable, useful and versatile free transfer.
Other notable free agents include: Emmanuel Adebayor (striker, age 32, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5), Ricardo Carvalho (centre-back, age 38, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5), Leon Osman (versatile attacking midfielder, age 35, CA 3 - PA 3) and Maicon (right back, age 34, CA 2.5 - PA 2.5)