With a busy transfer window looming, several players are nearing the conclusion of their contracts and will be free agents. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 best free transfers of all time.
There will be a competition to retain the services of players like Christian Eriksen, Gareth Bale, and Paul Pogba, all of whom are free agents.
10 Best Free Transfer Of All Time
10. Michael Ballack (Chelsea)
Michael Ballack, a German midfielder, joined Chelsea in 2006 after four years at Bayern Munich, where he scored 62 goals in 155 games.
Ballack scored 25 goals in 167 games during his four-year stay at Chelsea, collecting six trophies in the process, including the Premier League title, three FA Cups, one League Cup, and a Community Shield.
In 2010, he returned to his old club, Bayer Leverkusen, where he first earned his reputation as a player.
9. Jay-Jay Okocha (Bolton)
Nigerian wizard Jay-Jay Okocha was known for his trickery on the ball and creative genius, enjoying spells at Eintracht Frankfurt and Fenerbahce early in his career.
He became the most expensive African player at the time when he signed for Paris Saint-Germain for £14million in 1998, and following his four-year stay in France he made a surprise switch to Bolton.
The attacking midfielder helped steer the Trotters away from relegation with seven goals in his debut season in the Premier League, including his team’s Goal of the Season in a vital win against West Ham.
His stay in Lancashire lasted four seasons and included a League Cup final appearance and a run to the last 32 of the UEFA Cup.
8. Raul (Schalke)
Raul famously made his name at Real Madrid, sensationally bagging 323 goals for Los Blancos and holds the record for the most appearances in the club’s history.
In 2010, Schalke won the race for his signature as a free agent and their Spanish striker went on to help guide them to the Champions League semi-finals.
Joining at 33, he impressively netted 40 goals in 98 games during his two-year spell in Germany.
7. Sol Campbell (Arsenal)
The transfer of Sol Campbell from fierce local rivals Tottenham to Arsenal is undoubtedly the most contentious in Premier League history.
Despite Spurs promising him the opportunity to become their highest-paid player and repeated public guarantees that he would stay, the centre-back transferred to Arsenal in 2001.
On the red side of North London, he went on to win two league titles, three FA Cups, and a Community Shield.
6. Steve McManaman (Real Madrid)
Steve McManaman, a homegrown winger who spent almost a decade at Liverpool, signed a pre-contract deal with Real Madrid in 1999 to depart on a free transfer after feeling underpaid and unappreciated at Anfield.
The Englishman spent four seasons in Madrid and rapidly established himself as a fan favorite.
McManaman became one of the most successful English footballers to play abroad, winning six major trophies, including two Champions League titles.
5. Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan)
Real Madrid signed defensive midfielder Esteban Cambiasso from River Plate in 2002 but the Argentine only played for two seasons in the Spanish capital before joining Inter Milan in 2004.
Cambiasso spent 10 years at the San Siro, racking up more than 400 appearances for the Nerazzurri.
The South American won a staggering 15 trophies in Italy, including five league titles and helped his side to a Champions League triumph in 2009-10.
4. Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Andrea Pirlo is renowned as one of the greatest midfielders of all time, playing as a deep-lying playmaker due to his exceptional vision and passing ability.
Following a decade at AC Milan where he won two Champions League titles, Pirlo moved to Juventus in 2011, with Juve keeper Gianluigi Buffon describing the move as the “signing of the century”.
In his debut season, he provided a league-high 13 assists and completed 500 more passes than any other player in Serie A.
He went on to spend four seasons in Turin, making 164 appearances, bagging 19 goals and 38 assists and clinching four league titles — later appointed manager of the club in 2020.
3. Paul Pogba (Juventus)
Paul Pogba’s move from Manchester United to Juventus in 2012 has to be considered one of the best transfers in history, especially given Juventus sold him back to United in 2016 for a then-record amount of £89.3 million.
Following his departure from Manchester United, the Frenchman spent four years at Juventus, where he won four league titles and eight trophies in all.
2. Luis Enrique (Barcelona)
Luis Enrique was involved in one of the most controversial transfers in LaLiga history when he joined Barcelona from Real Madrid in 1996, after spending five years in the Spanish capital.
The attacking midfielder later stated that he “rarely felt” appreciated by the Los Blancos supporters, a major motivation behind the move.
Enrique spent eight seasons with the Catalan giants, scoring 108 goals in 300 appearances and has since gone on to manage Roma, Celta Vigo, Barca and currently the Spanish national team.
1. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
Our top choice in this prestigious list is Robert Lewandowski’s free move from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich in 2014.
The Polish striker scored 25 goals in his first season with Bayern and has gone on to score at least 40 goals in every season thereafter, making him one of the most prolific goal scorers in history.
He has aided Bayern Munich in winning 19 trophies, including the Champions League in 2020 and eight league crowns.