Have you ever loaded up a new FM save, intent on revolutionising a football club, only to find that your chairman has little to no ambition and sets the transfer budget at exactly £0m? We’ve all been there.
Hamstrung by the balance sheets and with no financial muscle, your premature, adrenaline-fueled dreams of taking Bolton Wanderers to the Champions League final quickly diminish and fall flat right there.
However, you then remember that you are a Football Manager virtuoso. You have proven time and time again that you don’t need the chequebook to oversee a renaissance. Your all-encompassing vision in the market, shrewd tactics and development skills make an absolute mockery of the modern game’s spending power.
To pull off this miraculous task you will have to revert to type and let instinct kick in, allowing your savvy management to do the talking, not the marquee signings you once craved. But you’ll need a little help along the way.
Free transfers will be imperative to this mission. Despite the winter update there are still plenty of freebies up for grabs on Football Manager 2020 and we’ve covered the best ones below…
The former Arsenal goalkeeper left Sporting CP in the summer having failed to make a single appearance for the Portuguese club and is now up for grabs. Having turned 34 last December, the Italian is at that perfect age for shot-stoppers and could prove a very competent piece of business.
We all know the importance of having a capable No. 1 between the sticks – just ask Jurgen Klopp – but instead of throwing large wads of cash in an effort to remedy your growing problems in the first third, why not bring in an international gloveman with an array of experience for nothing? A no-brainer for any top-flight middling club.
The Italian stalwart shed a tear when he parted from his beloved AC Milan in the summer, but you could offer him a route back into the game, creating a new legacy at your club and being the catalyst for renewed hope.
The energetic full-back comes with plenty of pace but, more importantly, with grit and heart, epitomised by his excellent Work Rate, Teamwork, Leadership and Determination attributes. He may not offer the explosive engine he once showed on a weekly basis at the San Siro, but he will come with a heart-on-sleeve mentality, and no doubt revitalise your dressing room.
The 51-capped Portugal international is still only 31 — on the game — and could seriously beef up your left byline. There was a time when Coentrao looked like he would become a world-beater at the Bernabeu, the latest left-back Galactico on Real Madrid’s roster. However, things didn’t quite work out that way for the full-back.
His latest spell saw him return to boyhood club Rio Ave, but that rekindled romance lasted just one year and he is now a free agent – though, with his current stats, don’t expect him to remain club-less beyond the summer in Football Manager 2020.
The World Cup runner-up was never able to fulfil his potential at AC Milan having been diagnosed with a heart condition shortly after Croatia‘s appearance in the final of Russia 2018. This led to him sitting out for much of last season as a precautionary matter and for further assessment.
As such, his two-year Milan contract was cut short in the summer, meaning you can now bring in a 2018 World Cup final starter to your club for free. With key attributes for a modern full-back, Strinic would be an excellent addition to any top-flight club.
Lord Bendtner himself is up for grabs, so don’t hesitate or this cult hero will be on the books of another lucky club. The towering Dane last donned the shirt for Copenhagen in his homeland, but was released in December and is now looking for a new challenge. He may not be the force of his embryonic years at Arsenal, but he still possesses some excellent attributes, including 14 for finishing and 16 for heading.
The Swedish left-back has plied his trade in the Premier League for three different clubs — Blackburn, Swansea and Norwich — and has infamously suffered relegation during each of those stints. That possibly explains why Olsson hasn’t found a new club just yet. But, if you’re willing to put superstition to one side and take a punt on this perceived bad omen, then you’ll be acquiring a playing still in the prime years of his career at 31, and someone who boasts top stats for a full-back.
Fancy getting your hands on a World Cup winner? Well, then Rami is the way to go. His time in Russia is probably more remember for his then-girlfriend Pamela Anderson being photographed in the stands, rather than his actual involvement on the pitch, but on his day there can be no denying the qualities of this defensive stalwart.
The 35-capped Brazilian may be very much in the twilight years of his career, but even at 34 he can still do a job for any middling top-flight club. With an expert passing range, elite-level technique, first touch and vision, this mesmeric mezzala has all the requisite attributes of an elegant Brazilian athlete.
A tidy midfield operator, Carroll falls into that Harry Winks-Jack Wilshere category. A diminutive metronome, the Spurs graduate recently left Swansea and can be snapped up on a free. He may not revolutionise your midfield, but he certainly makes for a competent back-up option.
It looked a real masterstroke when Stoke pulled off a club-record swoop for the DR Congo international in 2016. Joining from European royalty in Porto, Imbula was set to transform the Potters’ midfield with his combative and industrious exploits. As it turns out his move proved more ill-fated than illustrious and he is now without a club having had his contract terminated earlier his year.
A must-buy among free transfers, Ntep is blessed with that deadly combination of pace and close control, with 15 for acceleration, 16 for balance and 14 for dribbling. A coveted trident of stats among wide-men, the Cameroon international is definitely one to keep an eye on.
A Premier League legend, the former France international is still knocking about at the age of 37. Despite, his ageing legs Sagna still has plenty to offer and would make for a shrewd signing to add depth, experience and maturity to you squad.