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Football Manager 2021 has entered its Beta stage meaning anyone who pre-ordered FM21 is now getting stuck into the latest instalment of the world's best football management simulator.
Today we are bringing you our Football Manager 2021 best free transfer starting eleven. This particular starting eleven only features players that are free agents when you first load up the game in its vanilla format. We've come up with our favourite free transfer starting eleven, which features a few blasts from the past.
We have loaded up a large database with each of the top five European leagues, the Premier League, Ligue 1, Bundesliga, Serie A, and La Liga. Other, possibly better, players will be available if you load up a bigger database.
In terms of a formation, we're going with a 4-3-3 with a defensive midfielder in the middle behind two centre mids, two advanced wingers, and a loan striker. The goalkeeper will be protected by a flat back-four containing full-backs that will push on and provide extra width.
Goalkeeper: Heurelho Gomes
The 39-year old former Brazil international was released by Watford after spending 6-years with the club. Despite his advancing age, Gomes certainly has the best stats of any goalkeeper available on the free transfer at the start of FM21. The former Tottenham man has a 6/20 for ‘Kicking' which lets him down in the distribution department. However, his ‘Throwing' is rated at 18, while his ‘Aerial Reach', ‘One on Ones', ‘Positioning', ‘Leadership', ‘Jumping Reach', and ‘Strength' are 16/20.
Right-Back: Daryl Janmaat
Another former Watford man makes the FM21 Free Transfer Starting Eleven, but an injury means he won't be available for selection straight away. Janmaat is still only 31-years old and has decent, if not spectacular, stats all around. The former Dutch international possess decent passing (13), dribbling (14), and crossing (14), making him a threat in the final third. Janmaat is also defensively strong with his ‘Tackling' rated at 15/20 and his ‘Marking' a solid 13. The full-back still has a bit of pace (12) and acceleration (13) to his name and has a decent longshot (14) on him.
Centre-Back: Ezequiel Garay
While his physicals aren't what they used to be, Garay is a centre back with plenty of quality and experience. The former Real Madrid, Benfica, and Valencia defender has ‘Heading' of 16, ‘Marking' of 16, and ‘Positioning' of 17. The former Argentina international is decent from free-kicks (14) and can take penalties (15), and his mental statistics suggest he won't make too many defensive errors.
Centre-Back: Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa
The second former Newcastle United player to make the side is 31-year old Yanga-Mbiwa who was released by Lyon in the summer. The former French international has solid stats in heading (14), marking (15), tacking (14), bravery (16), positioning (13), and strength (14), making him a good choice to go alongside Garay.
Left-Back: Kwadwo Asamoah
Still only 31, Asamoah has plenty left to offer since leaving Inter Milan in the summer. Injuries have become an issue for the full-back with 74 Ghana caps to his name and his ‘Stamina' has dropped to 10 in the latest version of Football Manager. However, the former Udinese and Juventus man has impressive stats for balance (16), determination (16), positioning (16), and work rate (17). Asamoah's dribbling, first touch, long throws, marking, tackling, and technique are all still pretty decent.
Defensive Midfield: Tom Huddlestone
This former England midfielder has been released by Derby County and like a few of the players in this team, his technical stats remain strong while his physicals have dwindled somewhat. Huddlestone is a strong passer of the ball as is represented by the 16/20 pictured above. His first touch (15), technique (15), vision (15), and composure (16) make him an ideal choice for the deep-lying playmaker role in our 4-3-3 formation.
Centre Midfield: Jack Wilshire
Jack is still only 28-years old but injuries has had a massive effect on his career. Released by West Ham in the summer, Wilshire is still a strong advanced playmaker with the vision (15) and passing ability (15) to create plenty of goals. What Jack lacks in strength, natural fitness, jumping reach, and positioning in FM21, he makes up for in teamwork (15), decisions (15), composure (14), anticipation (15), balance (15), and off the ball (14).
Centre Midfield: Benat
The former Spanish international, Benat, was released by Athletic Bilbao after his second spell with the Basque club came to an end earlier this year. Benat is another playmaker in a team seemingly full of creative midfielders, but those technical and mental stats are hard to argue with. The former Betis man has vision (15), passing ability (15), teamwork (16), composure (14), technique (15), and bags of determination (17). The 33-year old is also very handy from free-kicks (15), corners (14), and penalties (13).
Right-Wing: Jefferson Farfan
At 35, Farfan is the oldest of the outfield players but still represents the country of Peru at the highest level and has been doing so since 2003. The Peruvian wide man had 3-years in Russia with Lokomotiv Moscow before leaving the club in the summer. Despite his advancing years, Farfan still has decent pace (13) and acceleration (13). With ‘finishing' of 14, ‘passing' of 15, ‘dribbling' and ‘technique' of 13, Farfan remains a threat in the final third. The veteran winger has a rating of 17/20 for penalties, which could come in handy.
Left-Wing: Alexandre Pato
Though technically a forward, Pato can operate on the left-wing as an inside forward comfortable. The ex-Chelsea man got released by Sao Paulo this year but still has something to offer the game at 30-years old. The Brazilian's pace (15) and acceleration (16) make him a threat from out wide, as does his dribbling ability (15). Pato has flair (16) and technique (16) that make him dangerous in or around the opposition's box, as do his longshots (14).
Striker: Mario Mandzukic
This veteran forward has never relied on his pace, which is good considering he has very little of it at the age of 34. Mandzukic has scored goals wherever he has been and the Croatian has played for some of Europe's biggest clubs. His mental stats on FM21 are phenomenal, while his physical and technical stats suggest he can still play at a high level. Mandzukic is deadly in the air with ‘heading' of 16, ‘jumping' of 17, and ‘strength' of 18, while his finishing (14) and composure (16) make him deadly in the box. The former Croatian international is described as a ‘powerful striker' on FM21 and well worth bringing into your club, even as a mere impact sub.
The Ones that Didn't Make Our Team
Here is a list of just some of the interesting free-transfer that only just missed out on our team, as well as a few blasts from the past…
Diego Bengalio and Orjan Nyland.
Antonio Valencia, Ashley Williams, Bacary Sagna, Adrian Mariappa, Ivan Strinic, Ignazio Abate, Gael Clichy, Luca Antonelli, and Aly Cissokho.
Yaya Toure, Ahmed Musa, Carlos Sanchez, Fredy Guarin, Ibrahim Afellay, Yohan Cabaye, Alex Song, Samir Nasri, Giles Barnes, Alen Halilovic, Wellington Nem, and Diego Capel.
Robinho, Nicklas Bendtner, Emmanuel Adebayor, Jackson Martinez, Mario Balotelli, Seydou Doumbia, Daniel Sturridge, and Oumar Niasse.