We have seen some great free transfer moves made by clubs in this decade. As seen over the years, a transfer can turn out either way for the buying club. A free transfer presents a low-risk opportunity. Let us look at the top 10 free transfers of the decade.
10. Cambiasso: Inter to Leicester City
Esteban Cambiasso was a stalwart in Inter Milan’s side for 10 years. He won multiple trophies during his stay at the club, including a Champions League title in the treble-winning season under Mourinho.
Leicester signed him in 2014 after their promotion to the Premier League.
Even though he was 33 years old when he arrived in England, his experience at the highest level proved to be of immense value to the foxes throughout that season. The Argentine midfielder did not win any trophy at Leicester as he had left the club before their historic Premier League title victory.
His success can be measured by the huge role he played in the Foxes’ quest for survival in the Premier League. He was named Leicester Player of the Season for his efforts. Ironically, Inter Milan had also brought Cambiasso to San Siro on a free transfer from Real Madrid.
9. Klose: Bayern to Lazio
Klose was known to even the casual fans due to his exploits at multiple World Cups. His record of most goals at World Cups is yet to be broken. His scoring prowess was never in doubt but when Lazio signed him on a free transfer from Bayern Munich in 2011, many thought they were getting a player past his best.
But Klose proved the doubters wrong in the best possible way.
He went on to score 63 goals in 171 appearances for Lazio before retiring in 2016 winning the Copa Italia and breaking numerous goalscoring records at the club.
He became the first player in Lazio’s history to score 5 goals in a single game and ended his career as the club’s joint-highest foreign goalscorer.
8. Demba Ba: West Ham to Newcastle Utd
Newcastle United signed Demba Ba from West Ham United after the Hammers’ relegation to the Championship in 2011. Ba was signed as a replacement for Andy Caroll, who had been sold to Liverpool. The Senegalese striker’s spell at Newcastle was brief but brilliant, as he went on to score 29 goals in 45 appearances for the Magpies.
Newcastle were going through a bad phase when Ba joined them, but he helped them to a fifth placed finish in the Premier League in his first season at the club. Ba rescued Newcastle a lot of times through his brilliance and formed a deadly strike partnership with Pappis Cisse during his stay at Newcastle.
His performances were so good that he started attracting the interest of bigger clubs in the league, before finally completing a transfer to Chelsea in January 2013.
7. Khedira: Real Madrid to Juventus
Juventus have made big moves in the transfer market having signed Cristiano Ronaldo and De Ligt for huge transfer fees in recent seasons, but they have also made few brilliant signings for free throughout this decade. Sami Khedira burst onto the scene in the 2010 World Cup. His splendid performances in the tournament earned him a move to Real Madrid.
After a bright start to his career in Madrid, he struggled to keep his place in the team towards the end of his stay.
When Khedira found himself surplus to requirements at Real Madrid, it was the Italian club that secured his services, fending off interest from a lot of clubs including Arsenal.
Since his move to Turin in 2015, Khedira has won multiple trophies including 4 Serie A titles. He continues to be a solid performer for the Italian giants and can add more trophies to his collection when at the end of the current season.
6. Ibrahimovic: PSG to Man Utd
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s move to Manchester United in 2016 created a lot of buzz. The big Swede had been hugely successful in Paris and proved to be a shrewd signing by United. Ibrahimovic went on to score 28 goals in 46 appearances along with 10 assists in his first season at United.
Along with the goals, his presence in the dressing room helped Jose Mourinho to build the team in his image. He inspired the club to clinch the FA Community Shield, EFL Cup, and UEFA Europa League. His splendid performances and made the Red Devils sign him for another year.
5. Raul: Real Madrid to Schalke
Raul ended his 18-year spell with Real Madrid in 2010 after falling out of favor in the Spanish capital. Schalke were quick to make a move for the striker after it became clear that he would not be renewing his contract at Madrid. The legendary striker repaid the club’s faith in him by leading the German side to the Champions League final in 2011 and a third-place finish in the league next year.
He ended up scoring 40 goals in 98 appearances for Schalke. The Spaniard formed a deadly strike partnership with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar during his stay in Germany. Their partnership was the key behind Schalke’s deep run in the Champions League.
Raul was also impressed by the Bundesliga, which was apparent when he referred to the German top-flight as the best league in world football.
4. Milner: Man City to Liverpool
James Milner has proved to be a shrewd acquisition for Liverpool, having joined in from Manchester City in 2015. Milner won the Premier League title with Manchester City but found playing time hard to come by towards the end of his spell at the Etihad. The Merseyside club was quick to make a move for him when he did not extend his contract with City.
His signing may not have attracted a lot of attention but he has been a solid performer for the Reds ever since.
His versatility has meant that Jurgen Klopp has played him in various positions other than midfield whenever needed. Milner was a key part of Liverpool’s Champions League-winning squad last season.
He also broke the record for most assists in a single Champions League campaign during the 2017-2018 season. The veteran midfielder continues to perform admirably as the Reds look to end their long wait for a league title this season.
3. Pogba: Man Utd to Juventus
After joining Juventus from Manchester United on a free transfer, Pogba went on to establish himself as one of the best midfielders in the world during his four-year stay with the Italian giants. Pogba, together with Andrea Pirlo and Arturo Vidal, helped Juventus create an impenetrable midfield.
He became a key part of Antonio Conte’s plans and started getting more opportunities to impress.
The French midfielder made 178 appearances for the Turin club, scoring 34 goals and registering 43 assists as he won multiple trophies with the club, including 4 league titles.
Along with the team honours, he was also named in the Seria A team of the year for 3 consecutive years and won the Golden Boy award in 2013. Ironically, Pogba returned to United in 2016 for a then world-record fee of £89 million.
2. Pirlo: Milan to Juventus
One of the strangest transfer decisions saw Milan allowing Andrea Pirlo to join their rivals Juventus. This move proved to be the start of Milan’s downfall and the rise of Juventus to the top of Italian football.
The stylish midfielder transformed the Turin club’s midfield with his excellent passing ability and vision.
He was at the heart of the exceptional midfield alongside Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba. His performances for the Old Lady helped him to get back into the Italian team set up. He inspired the national team to a runners-up finish at Euro 2012 where they lost to Spain.
Pirlo went on to make 164 appearances for the Turin club, scoring 19 goals and registering 38 assists to his name in his time at the club. He helped the club win 4 successive league titles before leaving for New York City FC in 2015.
1. Lewandowski: Dortmund to Bayern
Imagine being able to sign one of the world’s most sought after strikers for free.
Bayern achieved this feat when they signed Robert Lewandowski for free in 2014. The fact that they signed him from one of their biggest rivals, Dortmund, made this deal even better.
The 31-year old is showing no signs of slowing down yet. He has continued to impress this season as he looks to lead the club to more glory, as he recently became the first player in Bundesliga history to score in the opening nine games of a campaign.
Lewandowski is one of the best strikers in the world currently and Bayern Munich’s fans will be hoping that he continues to lead the club to more trophies this season.