It’s not too often that the free agent market is particularly appealing in the first season of Football Manager. Still, in FM 21, the open market is loaded with recognisable names and players worthy of a place in top squads.
Due to the disjointed nature of world football transitioning into this season, the free agency is primed for any in-game manager looking to add some veteran talent to their ranks.
So, to help you surf the ocean of players without clubs, we’ve found all of the best free agents in FM 21, sorted by their current ability (CA).
Choosing the best free agents of FM 21
To find the best free agents of FM 21, we narrowed down the search to players with a potential ability (PA) of at least 150 PA or negative PA ratings that equated to the 150 to 180 range or higher.
This is because, without game time, the CA of a player can drop, so getting players with high PA shows how strong your signing may become if they play. That said, all of the best FM 21 free agents have been sorted by their starting CA so that you can see how useful the player can be as soon as you give them a contract.
We’ve also included each players’ contract demands, which represent either the suggested contract terms or their opening demands. In most cases with these free agents, you can negotiate the fees down a fair bit.
The five best free agents to sign in FM 21 are featured below, with a full list of all of the best free agents available at the foot of the page.
Mario Madzukic (150 CA / 166 PA)
Contract Demands: £46,500 per week / Two Years
Best Positions: ST, AML
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 150 CA / 166 PA
Best Attributes: 20 Aggression, 19 Bravery, 19 Teamwork
Mario Manzukic has played for some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Bayern Munich, Juventus, Atlético Madrid, and Dinamo Zagreb in his native Croatia.
Over the years, he has won the Champions League, Bundesliga twice, Serie A four times, and the Prva HNL thrice, with the towering striker always being able to find the back of the net. Through 497 games, Mandzukic scored 197 goals and set-up another 84, stacking up a further 33 goals in 89 games for the national team.
With his contract at Al-Duhail SC having expired in July, the Croatian striker enters FM 21 as the best free agent from the start of the game. If you can afford his wages, claiming a 150 CA target man without a transfer fee would be a worthy venture.
His top ratings of 20 aggression, 19 bravery, 16 heading, 14 finishing, 18 determination, 19 teamwork, 18 strength, and 17 jumping reach mark Mandzukic as the perfect option to come off of the bench for last-gasp goal.
Ezequiel Garay (144 CA / 160 PA)
Contract Demands: £42,500 per week / Two Years
Best Positions: DC
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 144 CA / 160 PA
Best Attributes: 17 Positioning, 16 Marking, 16 Heading
A stalwart centre back who earned an Olympic gold medal back in 2008, Ezequiel Garay has earned silverware with Real Madrid, SL Benfica, Zenit Saint Petersburg, and Valencia CF.
The Argentine opened the last season as one of Valencia’s go-to centre-halves once again, but later in the season, as his contract was expiring, Garay suffered a cruciate ligament rupture to put him out of commission.
Unencumbered by injury, Garay presents himself as one of the best free agents in FM 21, with his 144 CA being worthy of a starting role for many clubs – or at least as a strong rotation option.
The true value of Garay comes with his highest ratings, which include his 16 heading, 16 marking, 17 positioning, 15 tackling, 15 composure, 15 strength, and 15 jumping reach. Quite simply, he’s still a mighty centre back to have at your disposal.
Kwadwo Asamoah (136 CA / 159 PA)
Contract Demands: £82,000 per week / Two Years
Best Positions: DL, WBL, ML
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 136 CA / 159 PA
Best Attributes: 17 Work Rate, 16 Balance, 16 Positioning
As a teenager, Kwadwo Asamoah moved to Swiss club AC Bellinzona from Liberty Professionals FC in Ghana, subsequently being loaned to Torino and Udinese in Italy.
In 2009, Udinese paid the £900,000 fee, with the former central midfielder notching 134 games for the club until Juventus swooped in with a £16.2 million offer. Six Serie A titles later, Asamoah moved on to Inter Milan for free, playing 53 games in his two years at the Nerazzurri.
Standing among the best FM 21 free agents to sign, Asamoah gives managers versatility down the left side and a decent 136 CA for a player who won’t eat-up your transfer budget.
The owner of 71 caps for Ghana enters the game with 17 work rate, 16 positioning, 16 determination, 16 balance, 15 strength, 14 dribbling, and 14 tackling. So, there’s value to be found in the 31-year-old free agent.
Alexandre Pato (134 CA / 162 PA)
Contract Demands: £35,500 per week / Two Years
Best Positions: AML, ST
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 134 CA / 162 PA
Best Attributes: 16 Acceleration, 16 Technique, 16 Flair
Both in real football and across what was a bustling scene of decent football simulation games, Alexandre Pato used to be one of the most coveted wonderkids in the world. The Brazilian striker put himself on the map with ten goals in 18 games for Internacional, which convinced AC Milan to pay nearly £22 million for the youngster in 2007.
He hit the ground running, scoring 18 goals and teeing-up six more in 2008/09, but over the next few years, injuries and inconsistency hampered his development. While he played 150 games and scored 63 goals for AC Milan over five-and-a-half years, Pato failed to live up to his gaudy potential. Next, he bounced back to Brazil, to Chelsea on-loan, to Villarreal, over to China, back to Brazil, and now the free agency.
Luckily for managers looking to sign one of the best free agents in FM 21, the game doesn’t program in disappointment, making Pato a decent 134 CA signing. Still only 30-years-old, the Brazilian may even be worth giving a contract that exceeds his two-year asking term.
Looking at the former wonderkid’s ratings of 15 first touch, 13 finishing, 15 dribbling, 16 technique, 16 acceleration, 15 pace, 16 flair, and 14 long shots, it seems as though there’s still a useful striker concealed within the Pato shirt.
Antonio Valencia (134 CA / 158 PA)
Contract Demands: £100,000 per week / 11 Months
Best Positions: DR
Current Ability/Potential Ability: 134 CA / 158 PA
Best Attributes: 16 Balance, 16 Leadership, 16 Teamwork
Signed from Wigan Athletic for around £17 million in the same summer that Cristiano Ronaldo departed for Real Madrid, it’d be fair that expectations weren’t high amidst Manchester United fans. While Antonio Valencia didn’t replicate Ronaldo’s style, he certainly delivered.
He immediately claimed the right wing as his own, being noted for his strength on the ball, drive forward, thunderous strike, and absurdly accurate crossing. However, after Sir Alex Ferguson retired, the likes of David Moyes and Louis van Gaal increasingly transitioned the Ecuadorian to the right back position.
While Valencia is set to join Querétaro FC at the start of next year, after his contract at LDU Quito expired, Football Manager 21 came out just in time to keep him as a free agent. His 134 CA holds the Nueva Loja-native as a fair squad player, but his wage demands and lack of right-side flexibility may put off some admirers.
At 34-years-old, and only seeking an 11-month deal, Valencia’s strengths are in his 15 passing, 16 teamwork, 16 work rate, 16 leadership, 15 tackling, 15 strength, and 16 balance.
All the best free agents in FM 21
In the table below, you can find the full list of all of the best FM 21 free agents at the start of a new save. They are sorted by their CA rating, with the contract demands shown being their initial asking price or the suggested contract offer.
|Mario Mandzukic||34||ST (20), AML (19)||150/166||£46,500 / Two Years|
|Ezequiel Garay||33||DC (20)||144/160||£42,500 / Two Years|
|Kwadwo Asamoah||31||WBL (20), ML (20), DL (19)||136/159||£82,000 / Two Years|
|Alexandre Pato||30||ST (20), AML (19)||134/162||£35,500 / Two Years|
|Antonio Valencia||34||DR (20)||134/158||£100,000 / 11 Months|
|Jack Wilshere||28||MC (20), AMC (19)||133/157||£14,500 / Two Years|
|Mario Balotelli||29||ST (20)||130/180||£40,000 / Three Years|
|Daniel Sturridge||30||ST (20)||130/168||£61,000 / Two Years|
|Fredy Guarín||34||MC (20)||130/157||£9,000 / Two Years|
|Danijel Subasic||35||GK (20)||130/151||£37,000 / Two Years|
|Jefferson Farfán||35||AMR (20)||128/163||£21,000 / 11 Months|
|Wilfried Bony||31||ST (20)||126/150||£100,000 / Two Years|
|Yohan Cabaye||34||MC (20)||125/158||£21,000 / 11 Months|
|Samir Nasri||33||AMC (20), AMR (18), AML (18), MR (18), ML (18)||124/164||£21,500 / 11 Months|
|Gaël Clichy||35||DL (20), WBL (18)||124/155||£50,000 / Two Years|
|Ibrahim Afellay||34||AML (20), AMR (19)||122/150||£9,250 / 11 Months|
|Agustín Orión||39||GK (20)||121/150||£7,500 / Two Years|
|Yaya Touré||37||MC (20)||118/175||£15,250 / 11 Months|
|Bacary Sagna||37||DR (20), WBR (18)||118/160||£14,750 / 11 Months|
|Emmanuel Adebayor||36||ST (20)||117/172||£100,000 / 11 Months|
|Stephen Ireland||33||MC (20)||114/155||£6,500 / 11 Months|
|Daniel Osvaldo||34||ST (20)||114/153||£16,250 / 11 Months|
|Nicklas Bendtner||32||ST (20)||113/160||£5,250 / Two Years|
If you’re looking for a quick fix while operating on a low budget, see if one of the best free agents of FM 21 suits your system.