Now, it’s important to differentiate here with FM17’s free agents. These players aren’t free agents; they’re currently attached to clubs, however, they have a year or less remaining on their contracts. If their clubs allow this to run down to six months, you’re able to have ‘pre-contract discussions’ with the player in question and agree a deal in principle to sign them on a free transfer upon the expiry of their existing contract. This is a great way of seeking out free players of quality that another club deem surplus to requirements. You can gain from their loss!
These are RealSport’s recommendations only and there are more players to choose from. Also bear in mind that you can only talk to a player with six months left on their current deals, by which point their club may have offered them a new contract. Make sure to ‘shortlist’ these players so you can receive regular updates on their contract statuses. Remember, star ratings can vary per team depending on their stature. As always, we’ve included current ability (CA) and potential ability (PA).
The 22-year-old English striker is the forgotten man of West Brom and his contract runs out next summer. He’s far from happy at the Hawthorns and very soon after starting the game he expresses his desire to run down his contract and leave on a free, thus, he’s very accessible. He’s a young player with massive potential and he’s adept at playing up front, as an attacking midfielder or on either wing; it’d be a mistake to pass up this opportunity in June 2017.
He’s going to be in high demand and will likely only be interested in moving to a top four club. He’s fast, pace 15 and acceleration 16, can finish (16) and is determined (15). As I say, he’s young and his stats will only improve over time. He’ll be sure to score 20+ goals a season if played correctly. The potential for resale with Berahino, too, is massive, given his tender age.
Axel Witsel, Central Midfielder, Zenit, (£11m, £73k p/w, CA 3.5 – PA 3.5)
The 27-year-old Brazilian central midfielder has a fairly poor morale to begin the game and is unlikely to renew his contract at Zenit St. Petersburg. However, he’s, again, one for teams only in the top six as his £73,000 p/w contract may prove a stumbling block for most teams; he’s unlikely to want to take a wage cut. He is, however, worth the money as a box-to-box midfielder or a roaming playmaker; passing is 15, positioning 16, anticipation 17 and concentration 17.
He’s also a great team player as his work rate, teamwork, stamina and natural fitness are all either 15 or 16. Witsel, too, can take a good penalty (17). He’s unlikely to improve in the future, but he’s definitely worth waiting until his contract expires. Considering he’s in the peak of his career at the moment, his resale value isn’t fantastic, but he should still command at least £10million in two seasons time.
John Obi Mikel, Central Midfielder, Chelsea (£12m, £90k p/w, CA 3 – PA 3)
Mikel is just one of those names slowly becoming a staple of English football. He’s been at Chelsea since 2006 and looks set to leave Stamford Bridge come the end of the season. At 29, however, the opportunity to make a profit is diminishing and his £90,000 per week wages may prove a stumbling block for most teams. Whilst Mikel would be a great addition to a smaller club because of his experience, he's probably only worth the punt if you have significant leeway in your wage budget. It’s worth noting, however, that his stamina (15) and natural fitness (17) means you will get your money’s worth and he can play for an entire season easily.
He’s extremely strong (19) and his tackling (15) and positioning (17) means he can break up opposition attacks with ease. He’s also adept at beginning attacks, too, as a deep-lying playmaker. His passing (16), vision (14), composure (19) and decisions (16) are important in this regard and aid his skilful approach to the game.
Sebastian Rudy, Defensive Midfielder, Hoffenheim, (£13.25m, £26k p/w, CA 3.5 – PA 3.5)
Rudy is almost certainly a player worth monitoring, especially due to his versatility. He’s naturally a defensive midfielder, capable of playing as a ball-winner and a playmaker, but he’s also been retrained as an effective right-back or right wingback. His teamwork (18) means he will work extremely well within your team tactics.
Moreover, his good decision-making (16) and vision (14) make the 26-year-old German an intelligent footballer. Whilst he’s affordable in terms of wages, he’s considered a key player for Hoffenheim and he may well be offered a new contract before you have a chance to speak with him. If he’s available, snap him up.
Iker Muniain, Attacking Midfielder, Athletic Bilbao, (£9.75m, £36.5k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4)
The 23-year-old Spaniard is a more affordable option, given his low starting wages with Athletic Bilbao. However, he’s a young player with potential who’s already rated three stars and will be able to secure a move to a top side. Those in charge of mid-table to bottom Premier League sides may find that this player is a little out of reach. His ability to do the unexpected (flair 18) makes him a great player to have in your squad.
Whilst he’s not pacey overall (14), his acceleration (17) means he can reach his top speed quickly to move away from his marker. His passing (15), technique (16), first touch (15) and dribbling (17) make him a top class central attacking midfielder and adept as an inside forward on the left. Again, at 23, he could be sold on for a large fee a few seasons down the line.
Jetro Willems, Left Back, PSV (£4.3m, £10.25k p/w, CA 3.5 – PA 3.5)
Don’t be fooled by the Dutch left back’s lowly transfer fee, as he’s definitely a player worth keeping tabs on. At 22-year-old, he’d certainly be an investment into the long-term future of your club due to his potential to improve. His resale value is also great due to his age.
It’s important for fullbacks to be able to both attack and defend and this is what Willems can do. His crossing is an impressive 16, passing 15, technique 15, but he can also tackle (12), mark (11) and position himself (11), which are decent enough stats for a young player. His work rate (11) lets him down a little, but mental attributes naturally progress as a player ages. His versatility means he can also play as a left wingback or be retrained as a left midfielder.
Cristian Tello, Attacking Midfielder, Barcelona, (£11.25, £46k p/w, CA 3 – PA 3.5)
This will be the 24-year-old Spaniard’s fourth season on loan from Barcelona (currently at Fiorentina) and he looks set to leave the Camp Nou upon expiry of his contract in June 2017. Tello has been a player labelled as having massive potential that he just never has fulfilled. Maybe you can be the manager to bring the best out of him. Adept at playing on either the right or left side, the attacking midfielder is definitely worth a shot.
His pace (16), acceleration (17) and off the ball movement (16) are the most impressive aspects of his game. His crossing (13) and dribbling (14) could do with some focussed training to improve both attributes, however. His wages aren’t totally unaffordable either and managers of mid-table sides may in with a chance of signing him. A player of his experience will be useful for smaller clubs.
Holger Badstuber, Central Defender, Bayern Munich (£18.25m, £58k p/w, CA 3 – PA 3)
As a centre-back, 27 years of age isn’t too worrying and he can be a permanent fixture of your back line for a few seasons at least. His resale potential, however, is not too great, given his age. He’s a rotation option at Bayern and his wages of £58,000 per week means he’s pretty accessible for top half Premier League sides. He’s highly reliable, decisions 18 and composure 19, and a top team player with teamwork of 19.
Most importantly, of course, he’s a fantastic centre-half; tackling (16), marking (16), positioning (17) and anticipation (18) are amongst his best attributes. He can also pass (14), making a good ball-playing centre-back for those managers that like to play out from the back. Make sure to shortlist Badstuber to keep up to date with his contract status, as he’s one you shouldn’t miss out on.
Fede Cartabia, Attacking Midfielder, Valencia (£4.4m, £8.25k p/w, CA 3 – PA 4)
Cartabia, at 23, has huge potential, both in terms of ability and future financial gain and he’s well worth signing, especially if he’s available for free in a year’s time. Moreover, his wages are extremely affordable for all clubs in Europe’s top-flight leagues.
The Argentinian is adept at playing anywhere across your attacking midfield, either as a winger, inside forward or advanced playmaker. Cartabia’s dribbling (17), passing (16), vision (16) and flair (16) are particularly outstanding. However, it’s his agility (17) and balance (16) that underlines his overall play as he’s nimble and skilful enough to beat his marker.
Andrew Robertson, Left Back, Hull City (£6.25m, £23k p/w, CA 2.5 – PA 3.5)
If you’re looking for a quick, hard-working left back already accustomed to playing in the Premier League, then Andrew Robertson is your man. The 22-year-old Scot is already a very solid defender and only will improve in the future, the more game time he gets. Solid fullbacks are few and far between these days, but, in Robertson, I think you'd find one that can average a rating upwards of 7.3 for the season.
His wages are affordable and, given that Hull are strong contenders for relegation, he may well be available in June 2017 and, thus, he’s worth monitoring. He can tackle (14) and mark (12) as well as being able to cross (16) and dribble (14). Moreover, as I mentioned, he’s fast (pace 14 and acceleration 14) and works hard (work rate 17).
Other notable players whose contract is expiring in one year’s time include: Giuseppe Rossi (striker, Celta de Vigo, CA 2 – PA 2), Carlos Castro (striker, Sporting Gijon, CA 2.5 – PA 3.5), Vurnon Anita (defensive midfielder, Newcastle, CA 2.5 – PA 3) and Alvaro Dominguez (centre-back, Borussia Monchengladbach, CA 2 – PA 3).