In the world of professional football, the transfer market can be an expensive and complicated affair. Clubs spend millions of dollars on their star players, but sometimes they can find incredible value in the form of free transfers. Free transfers happen when a player’s contract with their current club expires, and they are able to leave without the buying club having to pay a transfer fee. Here are some of the great players who were signed for free.
1. Andrea Pirlo – Juventus
Andrea Pirlo was one of the most talented midfielders of his generation. He was signed by Juventus in 2011 on a free transfer after his contract with AC Milan expired. Pirlo went on to win four consecutive Serie A titles with Juventus and became an integral part of the Italian national team that reached the final of Euro 2012.
2. Sol Campbell – Arsenal
Sol Campbell was a rock-solid defender who played for Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, and the English national team. He was signed by Arsenal on a free transfer in 2001 after his contract with Tottenham expired. Campbell played a crucial role in the Arsenal team that went unbeaten in the 2003-2004 Premier League season, earning him the nickname “The Invincible”.
3. Michael Ballack – Chelsea
Michael Ballack was one of the best German midfielders of his generation. He played for Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and the German national team. He was signed by Chelsea on a free transfer in 2006 after his contract with Bayern Munich expired. Ballack helped Chelsea win the FA Cup and League Cup in his first season with the club.
4. Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
Robert Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world today. He was signed by Bayern Munich on a free transfer in 2014 after his contract with Borussia Dortmund expired. Lewandowski has since become one of the most prolific goal-scorers in Bayern Munich’s history, winning numerous Bundesliga titles and the Champions League.
5. Esteban Cambiasso – Leicester City
Esteban Cambiasso was a hard-working midfielder who played for clubs such as Real Madrid, Inter Milan, and Leicester City. He was signed by Leicester City on a free transfer in 2014 after his contract with Inter Milan expired. Cambiasso played a crucial role in Leicester City’s great escape from relegation during the 2014-2015 Premier League season.
6. Raul – Schalke
The Spanish legend is Real Madrid’s all-time top scorer with 323 goals. He spent 16 years at the Bernabeu, winning six La Liga titles and three Champions League titles. However, he left Madrid in 2010 after falling out of favour with manager Jose Mourinho. He joined Schalke on a free transfer and helped them reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in his first season.
7. Paul Pogba – Juventus
The French star is one of the most expensive players in history, having cost Manchester United £89 million when they re-signed him from Juventus in 2016. However, he originally joined Juventus on a free transfer in 2012 after refusing to sign a new contract with United. He developed into one of the best midfielders in the world at Juventus, winning four Serie A titles and reaching a Champions League final.
These are just some examples of great players who were bought for free by different clubs. There are many more cases where clubs have managed to sign quality players without paying a fee.