At the end of the season, or midway through it, European football opens what we call a transfer window, which allows clubs to buy, sell, and loan out players. This allows clubs to boost their squads or get rid of players they don’t like. It has regulations attached to it.
A football free transfer typically occurs when a player’s current contract expires or is about to do so. On the other hand, a free transfer in football occurs when a player switches clubs without his new club having to pay a transfer fee to his old club.
This write-up lists the best free transfers we’ve seen in recent years.
FC Barcelona – Atletico Madrid
The Uruguayan forward was chased out of his former club FC Barcelona after being informed by Barca’s head coach at the time (Ronald Koeman) over a phone call. After failing to join Juventus due to cheating allegations, he joined fierce rivals Atletico Madrid on September 23, 2020.
He was FC Barcelona’s third highest goal scorer at the time.
His time at Atletico Madrid was a beautiful one, as he won a La Liga trophy, while also breaking records there, including scoring his 500th goal.
To make things more interesting, he got a goal and an assist against his former club FC Barcelona and gave an iconic celebration, which people in the media thought was a sign of getting back at Ronald Koeman for the call.
He left Atletico Madrid for his childhood club, Naconial, in 2022.
Real Madrid – PSG
Sergio Ramos is regarded as one of the best defenders of all time. His goal scoring abilities, and his aggressive style of play make him stand out amongst his peers.
Despite being a captain at his former club, Real Madrid, and winning 4 UCL titles with the club, including a 3-peat, he was announced to be leaving the club after 16 years of service.
On the 8th of July, European giants PSG announced the signing of the Madrid star on a free transfer, which came as a surprise to many of us. It was later said that he wanted a 2-year contract and he was offered one. However, the offer expired before he could accept it.
FC BARCELONA – Paris SG
Highly recognized for his creative playmaking skills and his goal-scoring ability, Lionel Messi left FC Barcelona for free. This would be the most surprising transfer news of all time!
Argentine forward regarded as one of the greatest players of all time, the Argentine forward has spent his entire professional career with one club (FC Barcelona). He became the club’s captain in 2018 and was expected to retire from the Spanish club.
The turnaround came in 2021. Barcelona found themselves in some serious financial crisis, coupled with the COVID-19 pandemic and La Liga. They were forced to lay some players off while others had to take pay cuts. Surprisingly for us, Lionel Messi happened to be a victim, and the club wouldn’t make adjustments for him.
On August 10th, the 7-time Ballon D’or winner signed a two-year contract with PSG, with the option to extend it for another year.
Bayern Munich – FC Barcelona
Polish forward, and one of the most successful Bundesliga players forced a move to FC Barcelona in 2022.
Although he wasn’t out of contract, he was released for a fee of 45 million euros, which is going to be considered small for a player of his caliber.
Despite winning literally all the club trophies with his former club Bayern Munich, Lewandoski doesn’t seem to be satisfied as he forced his way out of the German club. He stopped performing in training, doing public interviews and going against his former club and was ready to pay from his own pocket.
He joined FC Barcelona for a fee of 45 million euros in 2022. So far, he’s been living up to expectations.
Manchester United – Juventus
The French player and center midfielder, Paul Pogba joined Manchester United for the first time in 2011. But the lack of playing time convinced him to leave his former club for greener pastures.
He joined Serie A giants Juventus on a free transfer in 2012, where he went on to win four consecutive Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia and two Supercoppa Italiana titles. On a personal level, he won the Golden Boy award in 2013 and was named in the 2015 UEFA team of the year as he helped Juventus to their first UCL final in 12 years.
Bayern Munich – Real Madrid
The current captain of the Austrian team, who plays as a center back for Real Madrid, is considered one of the best defenders of his time.
After over 400 appearances with Bayern, including 2 Champions League trophies, 2 trebles and other accolades to his name, like the UEFA team of the year (which he has won 3 times). Alaba was said to be looking for a new challenge after renewal talks with his former club broke down.
He joined Spanish side Real Madrid on a free transfer in 2021, as they were desperately looking for a replacement for their former defender and captain, Sergio Ramos.
It won’t take long for Alaba to start showing his worth, as he won the UEFA Champions League, La Liga, and the Supercopa in his debut season. Some Real Madrid fans consider him their best signing in 2021.
The German and Real Madrid center back is arguably one of the toughest CBs of his time. After 133 appearances for Chelsea, including a Champions League trophy, in which he played an important role, his time at the club would soon come to an end after being knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid.
He left Chelsea for Real Madrid on a free transfer when the English club refused to meet his wage demands. His new life at the Spanish club has been a beautiful one so far.