Free transfers can be a smart way to save cash while plugging holes in a squad after the transfer window has closed. Some clubs, such as Juventus, have even built teams capabale of competing for the Champions League around a core of free signings in recent years.
Premier League clubs can still sign unattached talent until October 16, when the official registration window closes, meaning there is plenty of time still left to tinker and improve squads before January.
Here, we've selected a top free option still available for every position on the pitch, and suggested a potential suitor for the player.
The former Swansea City and Tottenham goalkeeper is without a club for the second time in as many years after failing to earn fresh terms in North London. A goalkeeping crisis last autumn meant Spurs re-signed the Dutchman and he may be hoping for a similar situation at a Premier League club this year.
Vorm, capped 15 times by his country, was once considered one of the best netminders in English football but, at 36-years old, knows his better days are in the past. Still, a club in need of an experienced back-up could do a lot worse.
Potential suitor: Everton
Liverpool had been keen to move right-back Clyne on for a couple of years already before this summer. The England defender was reportedly on almost £100,000 per week at Anfield despite playing second-fiddle to Trent Alexander-Arnold in recent seasons.
The former Crystal Palace man will surely find a home soon enough, though his salary expectations will likely have to come down. He remains a solid defender, who is comfortable on the ball and good at getting forward to join the attack. At 29, he still has plenty left in the tank.
Potential suitor: A return to Palace
The Uruguayan centre-back would add experience and even goals to a top-half Premier League side in need of some defensive reinforcements. The 33-year-old has won trophies in Spain, Portugal and Russia during a glittering career, but fell foul of the financial issues plaguing Valencia throughout 2020 and was told he could leave in the summer.
Garay played more than 200 times in La Liga, scoring 20 goals in the division (which would be a half decent return for a more attacking player) and is known for his aerial ability and build-up play. Probably best used as cover at a top six club a little light on quality defenders.
Potential suitor: Tottenham Hotspur
A centre-back who has played well over 150 games in the Premier League is not to be sniffed at. Adrian Mariappa was allowed to run down his contract at Watford this summer after the Hornets were relegated from the top-flight after a five-year stay.
Now 34-years of age, Mariappa’s best days are behind him, but he remains a quick, committed defender who can bring the ball out of defence. At 5ft 10, the Jamaican is a little on the short side, and isn’t known for his aerial ability, so would probably be better at a bottom-half side who tend to play with a back three.
Potential suitor: Fulham
The 35-year-old could still do a job for a mid-table Premier League side, most likely as backup to a younger left-back. Clichy has won it all in English football, claiming three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and two League Cups during his time at the Etihad. The Frenchman may have lost some of his old explosive pace, but his experience and technical ability can’t be questioned.
Potential suitor: Brighton
Wilshere’s announcement, via Twitter, that he had agreed to the early termination of his contract at West Ham was tough to read for many football fans. Still only 28-years-old, it feels like only yesterday the Englishman was bossing it at the Nou Camp and being hailed as the most naturally gifted midfielder of his generation.
pic.twitter.com/mVbjDlYEjgOctober 5, 2020
It’s been three years since Wilshere last completed more than eight games in a Premier League season (he made 27 appearances during a loan to Bournemouth in 2016/17), and there is a feeling injuries have taken too much toll - both physically and mentally - on a talented player.
Wilshere claims he can still do a job at a big club, but one imagines he isn’t cut out for the heavy pressing required at many of the top six in England. Either a play-as-you-play deal at a club willing to show patience, or a move to somewhere a little less physical, might do Jack good.
Potential suitors: Serie A or the MLS may be his best options
Cabaye is well known to Premier League fans, having conducted the orchestra at both Newcastle and Crystal Palace in days gone by. A big move from the former to PSG in 2014 never really worked out for the Frenchman - despite him winning three league titles and two league cups in Paris - and he is now without a club following a spell at Saint Etienne.
Cabaye might not be the most physical midfielder, but he remains a composed presence on the ball and can still get around the pitch. The 34-year old could provide backup to a pre-existing playmaker at a Premier League side - a backup for Jonjo Shelvey at his old club, perhaps?
Potential suitors: Newcastle United
While a few players on this list may struggle to compete with younger opponents in a top league again, the same cannot be said for Mario Mandzukic. The Croation forward remains an absolute machine and, even at the age of 34, could still cause headaches for elite defenders 10 years his junior.
Mandzukic is not only fit and strong, he is also versatile, a leader and has won almost everything there is to win during a phenomenal career, including 10 league titles and a European crown.
The target-man will have a long list of suitors, and will need to decide if he still wants to play every week or if he is happy to provide a rotation option at a top club.
Potential suitors: Manchester City are having a bit of a striker crisis?
The ‘Balkan Messi’ may have struggled to live up to his billing as one of the most exciting young talents in world football but, at just 24-years of age, there is still time to resurrect his career.
Halilovic became the youngest ever player to represent Croatia in 2013, at the age of just 16, but the attacking midfielder schooled at La Masia has been frustratingly inconsistent during spells in Hamburg, Milan, Las Palmas and Heerenveen since leaving Barcelona.
Some managers love a project and, were Halilovic rediscover his genius, a club might have a player with serious value on their hands. It would be a cheap gamble, too, with few teams interested in his services.
Potential suitors: Leicester City look bereft of ideas when James Maddison is out
Another player Watford allowed to leave on a free following the club’s relegation to the Championship last season. Welbeck’s £100,000 a week wages would have been unsustainable for a club in the second-tier, and it would be hard to argue the 29-year-old deserves that kind of wage packet at his next club.
Welbeck is still a quality player but he doesn’t score often enough to be considered an elite striker. His versatility, stamina and pace are all valuable attributes, however, and there is no reason to believe Welbeck can’t provide an excellent option for a mid to lower-table team in the Premier League.
Potential suitors: Burnley
Injuries and a loss of that explosive acceleration have seriously hampered the career of a player once considered England’s most naturally gifted finisher. At 31-years-old, Sturridge should still be enjoying the twilight of his prime years at a Champions League club. Instead, he is without an employer and there are few teams who would want to take a gamble on a player who just isn’t fit for long enough.
Having said that, if someone were to take a risk, and Strurridge were to recapture some of his old magic, we’re talking about a player who could still bang in at least 15 goals a season. He spent last season at Trabzonspor in Turkey, where he scored seven goals in 16 appearances - a genuinely decent return in a new country. Could it be time to come home (even on a pay as you play deal)?
Potential suitors: A return to West Brom?
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