Transfer Talk: Seven of the best free agents on the market
Everyone loves a bargain and there are plenty of them knocking about this summer.
While the rumour mill is awash with talk of big-money moves for the likes of Harry Kane and Romelu Lukaku, there is still plenty of value to be had at the opposite end of the spectrum.
With many of Europe’s clubs tightening their belts after a challenging period, free agents are set to be in greater demand than ever before.
So we have picked out seven unattached stars sure to attract plenty of interest ahead of the new season.
There has never been any doubt about Daniel Sturridge’s ability but the one-time England star’s career has been derailed by persistent injury troubles.
The 31-year-old has only managed 20 or more league appearances in one season since his 21-goal capmaign in 2013-14 and the former Liverpool forward struggled to make an impact during a spell with Trabzonspor in 2019-20.
A four-month betting ban saw Sturridge spend last season away from the professional game but he is on the hunt for a new club — and currently training with Spanish outfit Real Mallorca.
Napoli’s loss could be Lazio’s gain — Albania captain Elseid Hysaj is expected to reunite with former Partenopei boss Maurizio Sarri in Rome after failing to agree a new contract at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.
The versatile full-back, 27, racked up 225 appearances in all competitions over six seasons in the south of Italy, where he lifted the Coppa Italia and helped the Neapolitans finish second in Serie A on three occasions.
He was just outside the country's top 25 players for possessions won in the defensive third (3.76 per 90) last season and is also comfortable with the ball at his feet, placing in the 89th percentile for pass completion when compared with his fellow full-backs across Europe (84.6%).
David Luiz continues to divide opinion like Marmite — but the veteran centre-back looks to have plenty of suitors after leaving Arsenal at the end of last season.
The 34-year-old Brazilian has been linked with Paris Saint-Germain, Marseille and Turkish outfit Adana Demirspor in recent weeks, with clubs keen to tap into his experience and exemplary passing range.
He was in the Premier League’s top 20 players for completed through balls in 2020-21 (0.13 per 90).
And despite his penchant for a high-profile error, the former Chelsea man was key to progressing play and kick-starting attacking moves for the Gunners.
Serbian colossus Nikola Maksimovic’s Napoli contract has expired — but he has not yet given up hope of extending his stay.
The 6ft 4in central defender is reportedly on West Ham’s radar but is still hoping to be offered a new deal by incoming head coach Luciano Spalletti.
Maksimovic, 29, has struggled to nail down a starting spot since joining the Partenopei from Torino, though his combination of aerial strength and passing ability may appeal to their new boss.
Only six players won more aerial duels in Serie A last season (74%) and his 93.8% pass completion was the fourth best in the division.
Crystal Palace’s search for a manager meant the club’s out-of-contract stars had to wait patiently for their futures to be decided.
Andros Townsend was one of the Palace players expected to sign on for next season but the 30-year-old winger now looks set for a move.
During a Twitter Q&A earlier this week, he said: “At this stage of my career it has to be the right move.
"There has to be a clear path to game time, I have to suit the style of play and the manager has to want me.
“My family have to be happy in their new surroundings, so yeah, a lot of thinking goes into this move, which is why I am still without a club at the beginning of July.”
Diego Costa left Atletico Madrid in February 2020 after requesting the club terminate his contract six months early due to personal issues.
The former Chelsea forward, 32, struggled to hit the heights of his first spell with Atleti upon returning to the Spanish capital in 2018 — persistent fitness problems saw him net just 12 league goals across four seasons.
Memories of his two 20-goal campaigns in the Premier League with Chelsea may tempt a top-flight club to have a punt on the Spain international, who has also been linked with a move to the Chinese Super League since leaving Madrid.
Fresh from his country’s maiden tournament appearance at Euro 2020, Ezgjan Alioski is reportedly on the verge of completing a move to Galatasaray after rejecting a contract offer from Leeds.
His departure was a blow for the Yorkshire club, though the Whites were quick to replace the 29-year-old attacking left-back with £13million Barcelona defender Junior Firpo.
As you would expect from a player in Marcelo Bielsa’s team, Alioski was remarkably efficient at closing down opponents and was in the 98th percentile for pressures (19.53 per 90) when compared with full-backs in Europe’s top five leagues last season.
Patrick van Aanholt
Another player who could be bound for Istanbul is Patrick van Aanholt, who has been strongly linked with Galatasaray since his Crystal Palace contract expired last month.
The flying left-back, 30, is known for his attacking attributes but was also in the Premier League’s top five players for possessions won in the defensive third (4.56) per 90 minutes in 2020-21.
Van Aanholt featured in all four of the Netherlands’ matches at Euro 2020 and it will be a coup for Galatasaray if they are able to complete a deal for the in-demand defender.