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In Focus: The 10 best free transfers of all time
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Khyfer Seahra
Paul Pogba won eight trophies in four seasons at Juventus
Paul Pogba won eight trophies in four seasons at Juventus

With a huge transfer window ahead, many players have approached the end of their contracts and will be available for a free transfer.

There will be a battle to secure the services of the likes of Christian Eriksen, Gareth Bale and Paul Pogba, who are all available to move on without a price tag.

Here we take a look at the best free transfers of all time.

10. Michael Ballack (Chelsea)

German midfielder Michael Ballack moved to Chelsea in 2006 following four years at Bayern Munich, in which he scored 62 goals in 155 appearances.

Ballack enjoyed a successful four-season spell at the Blues, netting 25 times in 167 games and winning six trophies in the process — including the Premier League title, three FA Cups, one League Cup and a Community Shield.

He returned to former club Bayer Leverkusen in 2010, where he had initially made his breakthrough as a player.

9. Jay-Jay Okocha (Bolton)

Jay-Jay Okocha earned legendary status among Bolton supporters
Jay-Jay Okocha earned legendary status among Bolton supporters

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. Sol Campbell (Arsenal)

Sol Campbell’s move from bitter local rivals Tottenham to Arsenal is arguably the most controversial transfer in the history of the Premier League.

The centre-back ran down his contract and despite Spurs offering him the chance to become their highest-paid player and several public assurances that he would stay, he moved to the Gunners in 2001.

He went on to win two league titles, three FA Cups and a Community Shield on the red side of North London.

7. Raul (Schalke)

Raul continued his goalscoring form at Schalke after leaving Real Madrid
Raul continued his goalscoring form at Schalke after leaving Real Madrid

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.

6. Steve McManaman (Real Madrid)

After spending over a decade at Liverpool, homegrown winger Steve McManaman signed a pre-contract agreement with Real Madrid in 1999 to leave on a free transfer, after feeling underpaid and ultimately undervalued at Anfield.

The Englishman spent four seasons in Madrid and quickly became a fans’ favourite at the Bernabeu.

Winning six major trophies, including two Champions League titles, McManaman became one of the most successful English footballers to play overseas.

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 widely regarded as one of the legends of the game
Andrea Pirlo is widely regarded as one of the legends of the game

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 switch from Manchester United to Juventus in 2012 has to be regarded as one of the best bits of transfer business in history, considering the Italian giants went on to sell him back to United for a then-record fee of £89.3m in 2016.

The Frenchman spent four years at Juve after leaving the Red Devils and won four league titles and eight trophies in total in Italy.

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)

Robert Lewandowski ended the 2021-22 season as the top scorer in the Bundesliga for a seventh time
Robert Lewandowski ended the 2021-22 season as the top scorer in the Bundesliga for a seventh time

Robert Lewandowski’s free transfer from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich in 2014 is our top pick in this esteemed list.

The Polish marksman bagged 25 goals in his debut season at Bayern and has scored at least 40 goals in every campaign for the club since then, making him one of the most prolific goalscorers of all time.

He has helped fire the Bavarians to an incredible 19 trophies, including a Champions League success in 2020 and eight league titles.


Paul PogbaRobert LewandowskiPremier LeagueChelseaLeague OneBoltonArsenalSchalke 041. BundesligaReal MadridLaLigaInterSerie AJuventusBarcelonaBayern Munich
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