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The available players in 2021

It’s every Football Manager player’s favourite time of the season. It’s time to snap up some free agents.

2021 has seen some big names walk away from their clubs, but most of the top guys have already found new homes, such as Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has joined PSG.

That doesn’t mean that all the fun options are gone. There are still a handful of huge names on the market, as well as plenty of solid options and a handful of promising youngsters as well.

Let’s take a look at who’s available.

Paulo Gazzaniga
Gazzaniga ended last season on loan in Spain / Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Last club: Tottenham

Remember when Tottenham fans wanted Gazzaniga as their number one?

The Argentine’s career has fallen off a cliff since those good days in late 2019, but he could be a worthwhile gamble for any mid-table side.

Marcus Bettinelli

Bettinelli did well in the Championship / John Early/Getty Images

Last club: Fulham

Bettinelli’s next move will depend on what he still wants to achieve in football.

He was solid on loan with Middlesbrough last season and could easily play at that level again, but Bettinelli would also make an excellent backup or third-choice goalkeeper for a top side.

Salvatore Sirigu

Sirigu was part of Italy’s Euro winners / Claudio Villa/Getty Images

Last club: Torino

Italy’s backup at Euro 2020, 34-year-old Sirigu managed one minute in the final group game this summer.

Now back home with his winner’s medal, Sirigu is expected to join Genoa.

Elseid Hysaj

Hysaj is close to joining Lazio / Marco Rosi – SS Lazio/Getty Images

Last club: Napoli

Hysaj might not be on this list for long as he is in talks with Lazio over a reunion with Maurizio Sarri.

Things are so advanced that the right-back was recently named as part of their pre-season squad, but he’s technically still available.

Nathaniel Clyne

Clyne could stay at Palace / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Last club: Crystal Palace

Fitness issues continue to plague Clyne, who will only really be able to join a team who aren’t desperate for a new right-back.

That might mean a drop down to the Championship, but a top-flight move can’t be ruled out.

Aleix Vidal

Vidal has left Sevilla / Soccrates Images/Getty Images

Last club: Sevilla

A member of the club of disasterous Barcelona signings, Vidal has struggled to piece himself together again after his spell at Camp Nou.

There are suggestions that the right-back might be leaving Spain, with a switch to Turkey or Portugal on the cards.

Sofiane Alakouch

Alakouch could be a real bargain / PASCAL GUYOT/Getty Images

Last club: Nimes

22-year-old Alakouch has been a first-team regular at Nimes since 2016 and has grown into a very intriguing full-back.

He allowed his contract with Nimes to expire as they were relegated from Ligue 1, but Alakouch shouldn’t find it hard to secure a new deal elsewhere.

Yasser Larouci

Larouci was held in high regard / Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Last club: Liverpool

Larouci was tipped for big things at Liverpool but fell victim to injuries and the emergence of Neco Williams.

The momentum he had in 2019 is now gone, but he could be worth a gamble for any team.

Jerome Boateng

Boateng spent 10 years with Bayern / Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

Last club: Bayern Munich

Boateng was a regular starter for the Bundesliga champions last season but called it quits after ten years with Bayern.

He’s approaching 33 now, so he might not be a long-term option, but he’s still got a few years left in him.

Giorgio Chiellini

Chiellini shone at the Euros / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Last club: Juventus

Chiellini’s status as a free agent has flown under the radar somewhat, largely because he’s almost certainly returning to Juventus.

Everyone involved is so calm about the situation that they let Chiellini’s contract expire, but there’s still a chance that another team could jump in.

Nikola Maksimovic

Maksimovic could still return to Napoli / Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Last club: Napoli

A regular squad player for Napoli, centre-back Maksimovic has attracted interest from across Europe.

There are, however, still rumours that he could sign an extension with Napoli.

Luis Abram

Abram could be on his way to Europe / Marcelo Endelli/Getty Images

Last club: Velez Sarsfield

Abram has been tipped to head to Europe after seeing his contract with Velez expire.

The 25-year-old centre-back, who has Italian roots, has also been tipped to join Inter.

David Luiz

Luiz hopes to remain in Europe / Julian Finney/Getty Images

Last club: Arsenal

He might be 34 and guilty of a boatload of mental lapses, but Luiz’s top-flight experience will appeal to somebody.

Luiz has rebuffed rumours he could retire and is instead keen to continue his career in Europe.

Mamadou Sakho

Sakho has left Palace / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Last club: Crystal Palace

Injuries don’t exactly work in Sakho’s favour in his search for a new club.

The 31-year-old defender has played just once in 2021 and is now on the hunt for a new employer, with Montpellier tipped to make him an offer.

Nicolas Nkoulou

Nkoulou has been linked with Leeds / Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Last club: Torino

At 31, Nkoulou’s best days might be behind him, but he still brings plenty of veteran experience.

There have been suggestions he could link up with old favourite Marcelo Bielsa at Leeds.

Medhi Benatia

Benatia could return to Europe / MUSTAFA ABUMUNES/Getty Images

Last club: Al Duhail

Former Juventus man Benatia walked away from Al Duhail this summer and is considering a handful of offers from across the globe.

A return to Italy has been touted for the centre-back, with Genoa keen on signing him.

Eliaquim Mangala

Mangala struggled at Valencia / Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Last club: Valencia

Remembered as one of the biggest disasters in recent Premier League history, Mangala did a pretty underwhelming job of rebuilding himself in Spain.

Injuries ravaged his 2020/21 campaign and you get the sense that his chances of a big move might be gone.

Shkodran Mustafi

Mustafi is looking for a new side / Lars Baron/Getty Images

Last club: Schalke

Mustafi’s return to Schalke did not go well. At all.

With Schalke tumbling into the 2. Bundesliga, Mustafi is back on the hunt for a new club, but he’ll need to convince a suitor that the last 12 months have just been a blip.

Gary Cahill

Cahill also left Palace / Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Last club: Crystal Palace

Cahill rediscovered his fitness towards the end of the season and will have given some newly promoted sides something to think about.

Now 35, he’s got the kind of top-flight experience most sides can only dream about. There should be plenty of offers.

Patrick van Aanholt

Van Aanholt is in demand / Pool/Getty Images

Last club: Crystal Palace

Dutch left-back Van Aanholt will have a lot of options this summer.

He’d be a solid backup option for a top side (Inter have been linked), but would be a guaranteed starter for a lot of mid-table sides. It’s up to him.

Ezgjan Alioski

Alioski looks to be heading to Turkey / Pool/Getty Images

Last club: Leeds United

Alioski is now available after letting his deal expire, and a switch to Galatasaray is on the cards.

It’s possible that he could end up signing on with Leeds again, but now that Junior Firpo is there, he would only ever be the backup.

Jetro Willems

Willems has been out with an injury / Michael Steele/Getty Images

Last club: Eintracht Frankfurt

Willems is yet to play a match since picking up a nasty knee injury with Newcastle in January 2020.

He did make it back to Frankfurt’s bench last season, so the left-back will hope to get his career going again this year.

Sergio Escudero Palomo

Escudero is an intriguing option / Fran Santiago/Getty Images

Last club: Sevilla

Good enough for a backup role at Sevilla last season, Escudero will hope to find another top side prepared to give him a similar spot.

He could even drop down a level if he wants to be a regular starter. The 31-year-old will have plenty of offers to do both.

Paulinho

Paulinho wants a return to Barcelona / STR/Getty Images

Last club: Guangzhou Evergrande

Former Barcelona and Tottenham man Paulinho terminated his contract with Guangzhou in the hope of sealing a return to Europe.

He’s voiced a willingness to return to Barcelona, but such an offer is yet to arrive.

Dorukhan Tokoz

Tokoz is a wanted man / VI-Images/Getty Images

Last club: Besiktas

25-year-old Turkish midfielder Tokoz has attracted interest from most sides in his homeland, but there has also been interest from Spain and Italy.

He was a squad player as Besiktas won the Turkish league title but is now hoping for more minutes elsewhere.

Clement Grenier

Grenier has offers in France / John Berry/Getty Images

Last club: Rennes

Grenier has plenty of experience being a squad player and could be a valuable backup for any side.

He’s most likely to stay in France but could be swayed by an offer from elsewhere.

Matteo Ricci

Ricci almost made the Italy squad / Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Last club: Spezia Calcio

It wasn’t too long ago that the idea of Ricci making the Italian national team wasn’t totally out of the question.

The 27-year-old is now a free agent and there have been a few links to other Italian teams.

James McCarthy

McCarthy is coming back from a nasty injury / Pool/Getty Images

Last club: Crystal Palace

McCarthy did a little to prove his fitness last season and will now be looking for a side ready to take a major gamble on him.

A switch to Celtic has been rumoured.

Jack Wilshere

Wilshere is looking for a new club again / James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Last club: Bournemouth

Now 29, Wilshere ended last season as a core part of the Bournemouth squad.

His days at the top level look to be over, but plenty of Championship sides should be keen.

Nabil Bentaleb

Bentaleb could be heading to England / Lars Baron/Getty Images

Last club: Schalke

Still somehow just 26 years old, Bentaleb was powerless to prevent Schalke from slipping as a groin injury ended his season prematurely.

A return to the Premier League has been mooted, with Burnley tipped to offer him a fresh chance.

Jandro Orellana

Orellana could stay at Barcelona / Alex Caparros/Getty Images

Last club: Barcelona

Barcelona still want 20-year-old midfielder Orellana to sign an extension, but he’s yet to be convinced.

Injuries haven’t always been kind to the youngster, but his potential is clear to see.

Oriol Busquets

Busquets has been offered a new deal / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Last club: Barcelona

It’s the same deal for Busquets. He’s been offered an extension but is yet to take it.

The 22-year-old was once seen as one of the gems of La Masia, only for injuries and a slump in form to see his career stagnate somewhat.

Lionel Messi

Messi is close to returning to Barcelona / Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Last club: Barcelona

The idea of Messi being a free agent is mental, but it’s not one to get your hopes up about.

He’s agreed the basics of a new deal and is inching ever closer to renewing with Barcelona. It’s just a case of money.

Andros Townsend

Townsend will expect a few offers / Pool/Getty Images

Last club: Crystal Palace

One of many to bail out of Palace this summer, tricky winger Townsend is perhaps the biggest name of the bunch.

Premier League sides will be keen on the 30-year-old, who has flashed moments of brilliance in the past.

Jose Izquierdo

Izquierdo struggled in England / Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Last club: Brighton

Izquierdo didn’t really hit the heights expected of him in England.

He might struggle to find another Premier League buyer, but there is interest from across the continent in the speedy wide man.

Alex Teixeira

Teixeira came close to joining Liverpool / Fred Lee/Getty Images

Last club: Jiangsu Suning

A one-time Liverpool target, Brazilian forward Teixeira is on the lookout for a new club after leaving China.

Rumours of a return to Brazil or MLS have been rife, but Teixeira could still be a tricky backup option for a top European side.

Andre Ayew

Ayew could link up with his brother / Athena Pictures/Getty Images

Last club: Swansea

A prolific goalscorer in the Championship last year, Ayew is again on the hunt for a new side.

90min understands Crystal Palace are an option, with Patrick Vieira keen to unite him with brother Jordan again.

Franck Ribery

Ribery could return to Germany / Gabriele Maltinti/Getty Images

Last club: Fiorentina

Ribery has spoken of his disappointment at being released by Fiorentina, who were no longer prepared to commit to the 38-year-old.

A return to the Bundesliga could be on the cards, but there have also been suggestions that a Turkish side are keen.

Hatem Ben Arfa

Ben Arfa is a free agent yet again / Marcio Machado/Getty Images

Last club: Bordeaux

Mr The-Streets-Will-Never-Forget himself, Ben Arfa is a free agent for the fifth time in six years.

Now 34, Ben Arfa is expected to remain in France.

Gaston Ramirez

Ramirez hopes to remain in Italy / Nicolò Campo/Getty Images

Last club: Sampdoria

Ramirez is keen to extend his stay in Italy, but there could be interest from England because of his vast experience there.

The former Southampton and Hull man was last seen in the Premier League playing for Middlesbrough in 2017.

Nico Gaitan

Gaitan is available / Octavio Passos/Getty Images

Last club: Braga

This might be the last chance for Manchester United to land their longest of long-term targets.

The 33-year-old, who used to be a regular in the rumour mill, has just left Braga after spending a year as a squad player.

Yannick Bolasie

Bolasie did well last season / Jacques Feeney/Getty Images

Last club: Everton

A solid spell on loan with Middlesbrough last season should be enough to earn Bolasie another decent contract.

Remaining in the Championship seems most likely for Bolasie, but he could be worth a risk from a new top-flight side.

Diego Costa

Costa has struggled of late / Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Last club: Atletico Madrid

Costa was released by Atletico Madrid in January as his crazy career spiral continued.

The 32-year-old hasn’t shown much of a scoring touch recently, but as anyone who watched him in England will tell you, he is always capable of terrorising a defender or two.

Stevan Jovetic

Jovetic did well off Monaco’s bench / John Berry/Getty Images

Last club: Monaco

Six goals in as many Ligue 1 starts last season is nothing to sneeze at.

Jovetic might not be the prolific Fiorentina hitman these days, but the 31-year-old clearly still knows where the goal is.

Kevin Gameiro

Gameiro is looking for a new club / Aitor Alcalde Colomer/Getty Images

Last club: Valencia

Anyone for a 34-year-old Gameiro?

A real veteran of the game, Gameiro offers a steady stream of goals and could well play second (or third) fiddle for a mid-table side.

Daniel Sturridge

Sturridge has been without a club for a while / Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Last club: Trabzonspor

Sturridge hasn’t played competitively since March 2020, when his contract with Trabzonspor was cancelled.

He’s looking to get back into the game and is spending pre-season in Spain with Mallorca.

Andy Carroll

Carroll is hunting for a new home / Pool/Getty Images

Last club: Newcastle

Carroll might struggle to convince a Premier League side he’s worth another punt.

One goal in 18 appearances for Newcastle wasn’t exactly an exciting return last year.

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