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31st Jul 2020

A starting XI of the best free agents available this summer transfer window

There are quite a few seasoned veterans currently without clubs, and a few highly rated youngsters too - here's an XI of the best free agents

Reuben Pinder

There’s some real quality in the bargain bucket this summer

Every summer there are good players to be snapped up on Bosman transfers. That is even more true this summer, after some players whose contracts expired at the end of June refused to sign short term extensions, that would have made them eligible to play throughout July. In the case of Lyle Taylor, this was out of fear that an injury would scupper any chance of move ahead of next season. In his case, his former employers Charlton went down. It’s a dog eat dog world out there.

With a lot of clubs looking to make savings where possible this summer, the free agent market is likely to become more significant than usual. We’ve put together a one to eleven of free agents that your club could snap up for free ahead of next season. Disclaimer: I’m well aware that this midfield gets torn to shreds on the break. Not a lot I can do about that.

GK: Joe Hart

The former England and Man City keeper has endured a tough time in recent years. Since Pep Guardiola made it clear he was not in his plans, loan moves to Torino and West Ham before a permanent move to Burnley proved unsuccessful. And the 33-year-old now finds himself looking for a new club. I suspect he might have to drop down a level to get the game time he desires.

RB: Nathaniel Clyne

I really feel for Nathaniel Clyne. He had a big role to play in the development of Jurgen Klopp’s early sides at Anfield, before an injury allowed Trent Alexander-Arnold to step in and make that spot his own. Since then, Clyne has had a brief loan spell at Bournemouth, but basically played very little football in over two years. Still, he’s 29 and still has a lot to give. Most Premier League sides who finished in the bottom half would benefit from his services.

CB: Malang Sarr

Sarr made his debut for OGC Nice aged just 17, and has been a mainstay in their defence ever since. With 119 senior appearances under his belt in France, he’s now ready to move further afield, having run his contract down at Nice. At just 21 years old, whichever club signs him will be buying mostly potential, but a lot of it.

CB: Ezequiel Garay

Garay’s career is winding down now. He’s 33, his contract at Valencia has just run out and he’s been recovering from a ligament injury, with his last game for Los Che coming in a 1-0 defeat to Celta Vigo in February. None of that makes him a particularly exciting prospect for ambitious European clubs. But, he could still do a job somewhere. Probably Argentina if we’re honest. His first club, Newell’s Old Boys, have been linked, and that is probably where he’ll go.

LB: Jan Vertonghen

Playing Super Jan slightly out of position here, sue me. The Belgian defender has served incredibly well for the past eight years, under numerous different managers, with his peak coming alongside compatriot Toby Alderweireld between 2015 and 2018. But now, at 33, he departs as part of the rejuvenation process at Spurs. Unlike Garay though, he can still put in great performances at the top level. Whether he’ll join a mid-table Premier League club, or maybe move back to Ajax, or his native Belgium, remains to be seen. What is clear though, is whoever does get him, is getting a brilliant footballer, even if just for a couple of years.

CM: Jeff Hendrick

I’m not sure what happened to Hendrick. He was Burnley’s most creative midfielder for a time – although to be fair that’s not hard. He was even linked with a move to AC Milan, which fell through due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now, he’s up for grabs. You’d expect the bottom half of the Premier League, especially the newly promoted sides, to be clamouring for his signature.

CM: Mario Götze

When he scored the winning goal in a World Cup final at the age of 22, we all expected Götze to go on to become one of the best attacking midfielders in the world. But health and fitness issues halted his progression, which saw him drop down the pecking order at Bayern Munich and eventually return to Borussia Dortmund. He no longer possesses the necessary physical attributes to play in Lucien Favre’s Dortmund side and has ended up a free agent. He’s got two-year contract at Eintracht Frankfurt written all over him.

CM: Angel Gomes

The 19-year-old took a risk in letting his contract run down at Manchester United, frustrated with a lack of first team football. That risk has not yet paid off, as he remains without a club. But of course, there are rumours everywhere. French media outlet RMC have linked him to Lille, but they will likely face competition for the player.

RF: Edinson Cavani

Another 33-year-old whose club are looking to freshen up their squad. Don’t let his age put you off though, Cavani has not lost his killer instinct in front of goal and could still play a big role for a big club. Links to Benfica appear to have died down, while rumours of a move to Leeds persist. And I, for one, would like nothing more than seeing Cavani play for Leeds under Marcelo Bielsa in the Premier League. Make it happen, Andrea.

LF: Ryan Fraser

Fraser’s decision not to play for Bournemouth after the restart, with his contract winding down, may well have cost the Cherries their place in the Premier League. Having played such a key role in their top flight survival in recent years, his absence was sorely felt as Eddie Howe’s side went down by a point despite winning on the final day. Crystal Palace have been linked, as they look to line up a replacement for Wilfried Zaha.

CF: Mario Mandžukić

I’m still not fully over the heartbreak he inflicted on me in 2018, but I’ll admit he was a top player in his day. He’s 34 now, back from the Middle East and not the same player as the one who scored that overhead kick against Real Madrid three years ago. But as with many of these players, could still do a job at a slightly lower level. If I were a betting man, I’d put my money on China.