Grab them while you can
It’s certainly tempting to start your Football Manager 2022 odyssey with £200m put in your hands as manager of Newcastle United. But we all know that the true joy of the world’s most popular football management game is starting at a club with little to no money and managing your way to glory over a number of in-game years (and an embarrassing amount of real-time hours).
To help you get your club started, we’ve put together a list, in no particular order, of five of the best free agents available to you when you start a new save in Football Manager 2022.
The Best Free Agents In FM22
When a five-time UEFA Team of the Year right back with 119 appearances for Brazil and time at clubs like Barcelona, Juventus, and Paris Saint-Germain is available for free, you simply have to take a look. Dani Alves has been a name synonymous with Europe’s elite for nearly two decades now, and the 38-year-old still looks like he could do a solid job in the top leagues of Europe. His physical attributes remain solid in-game and he’s lost none of his technical or mental prowess. That perfectionist personality and a natural fitness rating of 18 means that his attributes shouldn’t drop too drastically in the first season.
There are two things to take into account here: As mentioned, despite his natural fitness, he is 38 years old so he won’t be sticking around forever. He’s also on a sabbatical from football for the first six months of the season and isn’t available to play until January, so don’t throw all your wage budget at him if you need an immediate fix at the right side of your defense. However, if you’re a team in any of Europe’s top leagues and need a short-term option for a year or two? You probably can’t get much better than Dani Alves.
Easily the best player available to you at the start of your Football Manager 2022 journey, and for that reason he comes at a price. His wage demands are the highest of anyone on this list — he’s recently been playing in China and Saudi Arabia after all — so you won’t be able to sign him on every save that you do.
If you find yourself in a position to do so, though, getting the former Barcelona and Spurs midfielder to sign on the dotted line should be the first thing you do. He is super well-rounded and doesn’t have a single attribute below 10. His heading, passing, shooting, and tackling attributes are all at 14, which makes the Brazilian a contender for a spot in the starting XI in pretty much any save.
At just 24 years old, Gnagnon is the youngest player on this list and therefore probably the only man here that you can build your team around. The French central defender isn’t the tallest player but should still have great aerial ability with heading and jumping attributes both at 15. Combined with a strength attribute of 17, aggression of 15, and bravery of 17? He’s going to dominate that central defensive area for years to come and take no prisoners while doing so.
All of that means that he’s got all the tools to be a threat at the other end of the pitch from set-pieces too. His high natural fitness means that he won’t be spending too much time on the treatment table either. His career has somewhat nose-dived and three years on from a £12m move to Sevilla he finds himself without a club, so he’s the perfect reclamation project. Not the flashiest name on this list, but it's genuinely rare to see a player of this ability and age available at the start. An absolute no-brainer.
As an Argentine defender that boasts Italian nationality, Musacchio is an absolute must-buy if you’re a middling team in one of Europe’s best leagues. That Italian nationality means that he won’t be counted against any non-EU registration rules. But even if he did, he would still be worth a punt. After spending over ten years playing in La Liga and Serie A, the former Villarreal and AC Milan man found himself without a club for the first time in his career. He’s a great option if you’re implementing a system that utilizes passing the ball out from the back.
Much like Dani Alves before him, he has a perfectionist personality coupled with a good natural fitness attribute which means that age shouldn't become a factor anytime soon for the 30-year-old. His tackling, marking, and positioning attributes are all solid enough, but his mental attributes like teamwork, work rate, aggression, and bravery are all at 16 or over. That means that Musacchio is a man that you’ll be able to rely on for at least the first two or three seasons of any new save and will play his heart out for his new team.
This list has been lacking any attacking options so far and for good reason. The free-agent market for offensive players is considerably weaker this year. If you’re a Man City or similar, put all your eggs in the Mbappe basket on January 1st, 2022. Set yourself an in-game diary reminder if you have to. I’ve yet to see a save where Mbappe resigns with PSG, and he doesn’t hang around when choosing his new team (he’d joined Bayern on a pre-contract by January 4th on my save) so don’t forget to throw your hat into the ring early.
If you’re shopping in the non-Mbappe market, Ibai Gomez is probably as good as you can hope for. The Spanish winger has spent his entire career to date at Athletic Bilbao but is looking for a change of scenery in 2021. He’s 31 years old which means that he’s not the quickest winger, but he’s no slouch either thanks to a 13 rating for both pace and acceleration. What sets Gomez apart, however, is his technical ability.
His technique and crossing attributes — the key to good wing play — are both very high, and Gomez is something of a dead ball specialist. 17 free-kick taking and 16 corners make him an absolute must-buy if that's something you’re lacking in your squad. He’s got a professional personality as well which means he should be able to prolong his career for a few years yet and he'll be an excellent mentor for any young players in your squad.
So there you have it: the five best players available to you on a free transfer at the beginning of FM2022 to help get you out of the blocks. The word best is subjective, though. There are hundreds of players out there that haven’t made this list that could be heroes-in-waiting for your save files. So sit down and get ready to pore over that free agent list for hours on end in the hopes of finding the one player who is exactly what you need to take you to glory and beyond. I promise you they’re there, you just haven’t found them yet.