Who are the best free agents still searching for a new club?

By Sports Desk August 27, 2019

Clubs in Spain, Germany, Italy and France have less than seven days left to buy reinforcements in the transfer window, though there are plenty of players still available for free.

The process of signing free agents is less restrictive than buying players from other clubs, as they can be brought in after the deadline passes.

Many teams might therefore be able to find what they are looking for without forking out hefty transfer fees, which have been known to increase closer to the window closing due to the difficulty of finding replacements.

Several out-of-contract stars secured moves earlier in the year, with Adrien Rabiot, Aaron Ramsey and Ander Herrera proving there is still real value to be found in the market.

We've identified six players without a club who could still do a job at a decent level.

 

Hatem Ben Arfa

If a club is willing to put up with some potential baggage and the occasional off-field issue, Ben Arfa could prove an inspired signing. He proved with Rennes last season that he is still immensely capable, as he scored seven goals and set up another two in 26 Ligue 1 appearances, while he also caught the eye with his dazzling dribbling in the Europa League. At 32, he is surely still worth a punt for a year.

Fernando Llorente

Even in his more youthful days Llorente was not the most mobile, but that did not prevent him playing for Athletic Bilbao, Juventus, Sevilla and Tottenham. It is difficult to read too much into his Spurs spell, given he only made seven Premier League starts in two years, but his ability to hold the play up and cause problems with his physicality seem to be intact. Recently linked with Manchester United, he might be more suited to a return to Spain, where the pace is slightly less intense.

Jose Mauri

After breaking through at Parma as a teenager, Mauri looked a very smart acquisition by AC Milan when the former were relegated in 2015 and forced to start again in Serie D due to bankruptcy. In four years, he made just 11 Serie A appearances for Milan, but the former Italy Under-21 international is not without talent. A creative midfielder who is still only 23, there is plenty of time for Mauri – like former club Parma – to enjoy his own rebirth.

Martin Caceres

An immensely experienced centre-back, Caceres, 32, has played for Barcelona, Villarreal, Sevilla, Juventus and Lazio in a distinguished career. He spent the second half of last season at the Old Lady for a second spell, making nine Serie A appearances. Injuries have troubled him over the years, but he proved in Turin he is still capable of playing in a top division.

Claudio Marchisio

Although he is still recovering from knee surgery, a recent social post captioned "tick tock #imready" hinted Marchisio was itching to return to action. Most recently with Zenit in Russia, the Juventus icon has ruled out playing for another Italian side, which scuppered a potential deal with Brescia. Although not the competitor he once was, Marchisio can be counted on for experience, leadership and fine technique.

Lazar Markovic

Markovic is widely regarded as one of Liverpool's worst signings, certainly in the Premier League era. The Serbian winger rose to prominence at Benfica as a teenager, with the Reds then bringing him to Anfield for an estimated £20m in 2014. He has unsuccessful loan spells at Fenerbahce, Sporting CP, Hull City and Anderlecht before joining Fulham on a free in January. However, at 25, time is still on his side. A move to humbler surroundings might just be what the midfielder needs to rebuild his career.

Related items

  • Can they do it on a Tuesday in Stoke? Opta data has the answer... Can they do it on a Tuesday in Stoke? Opta data has the answer...

    It is one of modern football's most enduring cliches: "Can he do it on a cold Tuesday night in Stoke?"

    The bet365 Stadium, formerly known as the Britannia Stadium, is the home of Stoke City and was long perceived as one of the toughest places for teams to visit.

    A partisan crowd combined with a physical, direct style of football implemented by Tony Pulis after he took over in 2006 and led the Potters to the Premier League made them formidable opponents.

    So daunting was a trip to Stoke that some started to question whether Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi – now a six-time Ballon d'Or winner – would be able to display his usual brilliance in the intimidating surroundings.

    Make it midweek, cold, rainy, and possibly windy, and the hypothetical game became even more forbidding – but some have been able to master such an occasion.

    Using Opta data, we've taken a look at the top performers away to Stoke on a Tuesday.

     

    Unlike a Baird

    Stoke have played eight Premier League games at home on a Tuesday, and only the following players have scored against them:

    Chris Baird (two appearances, two goals)
    Clint Dempsey (two appearances, one goal)
    Damien Duff (two appearances, one goal)
    James McArthur (one appearance, one goal)
    Franco Di Santo (one appearance, one goal)
    Cameron Jerome (one appearance, one goal)
    Keith Fahey (one appearance, one goal)
    Gareth Barry (one appearance, one goal)

    However, Baird's two goals were in a game that kicked off at 15:00 local time, making him ineligible for the "Tuesday night at Stoke" credit.

    A strong record

    In all competitions, Stoke have played 131 home games on a Tuesday, winning 67.

    Only 28 of those matches ended in defeat, meaning they have avoided losing in 79 per cent of such fixtures, the latest of which was a 3-0 victory over Luton Town on December 10.

    Bogey teams

    Just five clubs have racked up more than one away win against Stoke on a Tuesday.

    They are Derby County, Cardiff City, Liverpool, Sunderland and Fulham, and each of them has two such victories to their name.

    Derby have the best win ratio at 67 per cent – their only other trip to Stoke on a Tuesday ended in defeat.

    Cardiff are second (50 per cent) and Liverpool sit third (40 per cent). Sunderland and Fulham have each suffered four defeats, though the Black Cats have a 33 per cent win ratio compared to the Cottagers' 29.

    How they could have used a player like Messi…

  • Coronavirus: Government urged to tax Premier League clubs refusing to cut wages Coronavirus: Government urged to tax Premier League clubs refusing to cut wages

    The UK Government has been urged to impose a windfall tax on Premier League clubs who continue to pay their players in full after placing other employees on furlough amid the coronavirus crisis.

    Newcastle United, Tottenham, Norwich City and Bournemouth have used the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to put non-playing staff on temporary leave while being paid up to £2,500 per month by the Government.

    That has drawn widespread criticism given that top-flight players are still being paid huge wages in full despite the suspension of the Premier League last month amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee, said English football is in a "moral vacuum" and wants clubs to face sanctions if they adopt a "two-tier strategy."

    He wrote in a letter to Chancellor Rishi Sunak on Thursday: "I am writing to express my strong dismay at certain Premier League clubs' decision to furlough non-playing staff while continuing to pay players. This two-tier system is morally wrong, especially given the extremely high wages paid to players.

    "Non-playing staff keep Premier League clubs in business, ensuring the smooth running of finances, administration,  kit,  stadiums and player welfare. It is deeply unfair that these staff should take less money home with players retaining full salary.

    "The purpose of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not to support the economics of Premier League clubs, who should play their part in dealing with this crisis and set a good example.

    "Lessons should be learnt from European clubs including Bayern Munich, Juventus and Barcelona, where players have all agreed to take pay reductions.

    "If PL clubs insist on maintaining the current two-tier strategy, they should face sanctions. As such, I have asked the PL to seek to broker an agreement between member clubs to change their approach.

    "I would like to propose that, if this action is not taken by next Tuesday (7 April), HMT consider, in due course, imposing a windfall tax to PL clubs to recover a substantial proportion of the money that clubs are paying to players. This could be used to reimburse non-playing staff, and/or to fund grassroots football (including non-League and women's football) during these difficult times."

    Knight also wrote to Premier League chief executive Richard Masters stating Premier League clubs should play a part in dealing with the crisis and set a good example.

  • Khabib Nurmagomedov v Tony Ferguson: The five times UFC's 'cursed' fight was cancelled Khabib Nurmagomedov v Tony Ferguson: The five times UFC's 'cursed' fight was cancelled

    Khabib Nurmagomedov versus Tony Ferguson is the fight every UFC fan wants to see but frustratingly the MMA gods have conspired to once again keep us waiting on a dream bout.

    The bad-luck story for this match-up has led to several people labelling it 'cursed', and with the latest attempt to get these two together in the Octagon cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic even those most sceptical of such superstitions may be wondering if it is.

    Lightweight champion Khabib was slated to put his belt on the line against Ferguson at UFC 249 in Brooklyn on April 18, only to pull out due to travel restrictions caused by the spread of COVID-19.

    Below we have taken a look at each of the times this fight was cancelled.


    OCTOBER 2015: RIB INJURY RULES OUT KHABIB

    This story dates back almost five years. In August 2015, UFC booked two of its brightest lightweights to get it on at the finale of the 22nd season of 'The Ultimate Fighter' in December. However, two months before the fight, Khabib – who had worked his way back from two serious knee injuries – suffered a broken rib that left him pondering if he would fight again.


    APRIL 2016: FERGUSON SUFFERS LUNG ISSUE

    So, take two then. At the start of the following year, Khabib-Ferguson was made part of the UFC on Fox card set for April 16. Just 11 days before that date, it was Ferguson's turn to be struck by injury woe as a lung issue prevented him from getting in the Octagon.


    MARCH 2017: KHABIB HOSPITALISED BEFORE UFC 209

    Making a third bout between the two was hit by a little snag, namely Ferguson holding out for more money. Eventually, it was made the co-main event of UFC 209 for the interim lightweight title with full champion Conor McGregor on an MMA hiatus to prepare for his boxing bout with Floyd Mayweather Jr. Just a day prior to the showdown, Khabib was hospitalised due to "weight-management issues". A fuming Dana White accused Khabib's team of going "rogue".


    APRIL 2018: SURELY NOT AGAIN?!

    For the fourth time, UFC announced Khabib versus Ferguson for the main event of UFC 223. This time surely the fight was going to happen?! Alas, no. Ferguson required surgery on his lateral collateral ligament and once again MMA fans were starved of the fight.


    APRIL 2020: CORONAVIRUS TRAVEL RESTRICTIONS GROUND KHABIB

    This long tale of woe endured its latest chapter of bad luck thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Despite protestations the fight would go on, even in the likely absence of fans, it was becoming increasingly unlikely. It came as little surprise when Khabib pulled out, stating he was unable to travel. Ferguson may still have an opponent with Jorge Masvidal, Dustin Poirier and Justin Gaethje having all been suggested as stand-ins … but for now the fight we all want to see remains frustratingly on the backburner.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.