Several clubs have signed high-profile players who exhausted their contract with their previous clubs.
Signing a free agent can be extremely smart business by clubs as it does not involve paying any transfer fee. In the last few years, a lot of high-profile players have moved to a different club after becoming free-agents.
Moreover, free agent signings are traditionally stop-gap moves or quick-fixes. They are not usually part of the long-term planning at a football club since one cannot rely on a player’s contract situation at another outfit. However, some of the players mentioned below have excelled after securing free transfers.
Furthermore, it is rare to find a quality player in the free agents market but on rare occasions the clubs looking for options have struck gold. Here are the top 10 free agent signings in recent years.
10. Leon Goretzka to FC Bayern Munich
Bayern signed Goretzka on a free transfer ahead of the 2018/19 season. However, his market value at the time was a whopping €40m. Expectedly, the German transformed the Bavarians’ squad and helped them secure several trophies including the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League.
9. Henrikh Mkhitaryan to AS Roma
Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s Premier League tenure was a roller coaster. The Armenian midfielder joined Serie A side AS Roma ahead of the 2020/21 season. The move was vital for the player as it revitalized his career since Mikel Arteta did not favor him. In Italy, Mkhitaryan contributed with 15 goals and 13 assists in his first full season.
8. Aaron Ramsey to Juventus
Aaron Ramsey was at the top of his game when he decided to leave Arsenal for greener pastures. The Welshman joined Serie A outfit Juventus as one of the many free agent signings for the Old Lady in the past decade. The market value for the player stood at €40m at the time of the move. Ramsey has played a few important cameo roles since joining the outfit.
7. James Rodriguez to Everton
James Rodriguez signing for Everton ahead of the 2020/21 season was a surprise move. However, working with Carlo Ancelotti was an exciting project for the Colombian playmaker. The move raised a lot of eyebrows and Everton looked set to finish among the top-four places until James started facing fitness issues.
6. Thiago Silva to Chelsea
Thiago Silva’s move to Chelsea turned out extremely well for the London-outfit. Thanks to Silva’s experience, the Blues managed to pip Manchester City and lift only their second UEFA Champions League title during the 2020/21 season. The Brazilian signed on a free transfer from PSG and played a crucial role in a hugely successful season for the Premier League outfit.
5. Edinson Cavani to Manchester United
Edinson Cavani signed for Manchester United on the deadline day of the summer transfer window. His contract with PSG expired ahead of the 2020/21 season, which allowed the Red Devils to sign him without any transfer fee. The Uruguayan instantly became a cult hero at the club and delivered some brilliant performances. Cavani scored 17 goals and provided six assists in his first full season.
4. Robert Lewandowski to Bayern Munich
Robert Lewandowski is arguably the best striker in the world at the moment. The Polish international recently broke Bundesliga’s record of most goals scored in a single season by netting 41 times. The striker joined Bayern from Borussia Dortmund on a free transfer back in 2014. Since then, Lewandowski has scored 294 goals and provided 65 assists in 329 games for the Bavarians.
3. David Alaba to Real Madrid
Without a shadow of doubt, David Alaba is among the latest high-profile free agent signings. The Austrian joins Real Madrid after completing a decade at Bayern Munich. Although the 28-year-old has not made his debut yet, the transfer is surely one of the biggest ahead of the upcoming season. Moreover, Alaba’s free transfer is the most valuable ‘free’ deal in history. The center-back’s market value stands in the region of €55m and he will reportedly earn around €12.5m a season and will receive a signing-on fee of €20m.
2. Sergio Ramos to PSG
Paris Saint-Germain pulled a coup by signing Sergio Ramos early in the summer for a free. The defender played 16 seasons for Real Madrid but decided not to renew his contract with the Spanish Giants. While moves to Manchester United set the the rumour mill abuzz, it was pretty clear as time went by that his next move would be to PSG. An ideal replacement for Thiago Silva, Ramos will take the Parisian defence a notch higher.
1. Lionel Messi to PSG
The biggest transfer coup of all time, has to be PSG sigining the world’s best player for absolutely nothing. PSG have had a splendid 2021 summer window, and Messi’s signing is just the perfect icing on the cake. Coming on the back of a Copa America win, the six-time Ballon D’or winner not only increases PSG’s value in the arket, but is sure to take the Ligue 1 viewership notches above what it is now.