During the current financial uncertainty, a lot of clubs may be reluctant to shell out big fees during this January transfer window and there may be a greater focus on free transfers.
We’ve compiled a tantalising XI of players available on a free this winter, along with a few honourable mentions.
GK: Orjan Nyland
Nyland helped Aston Villa reach the Carabao Cup final in 2019-20 but fell out of favour following the arrival of £16million man Emiliano Martinez.
The Norway international terminated his contract with Villa by mutual consent and has been linked with clubs in England, Turkey and Holland.
— Carabao Cup (@Carabao_Cup) February 22, 2020
RB: Cuco Martina
Despite scoring a stunning goal on his full Premier League debut against Arsenal, Martina failed to establish himself as a first-team regular at Southampton or Everton.
The 31-year-old is capable of playing anywhere across the backline, but the main reason we included him is just to give us an excuse to watch that goal again…
Great Premier League goals scored on Boxing Day
4⃣ 🇨🇼 Cuco Martina v Arsenal, 2015pic.twitter.com/b524DT0ZwU
— GoalScorer Challenge (@GoalscorerC) December 26, 2020
CB: Ezequiel Garay
Having played for the likes of Real Madrid, Benfica, Zenit Saint Petersburg and Valencia, Garay has some serious pedigree.
He asked to be released by Valencia at the end of 2019-20 after suffering a cruciate ligament injury but has since made a full recovery.
The Argentina international has been linked with moves to Liverpool and Barcelona as they look to bulk up their injury-stricken defences.
CB: Jozo Simunovic
Simunovic hasn’t played in over a year after injuring his knee playing for Celtic in September 2019 and left the Scottish champions after his contract expired in the summer of 2020.
Yet if a club is willing to take a punt on getting him fit, he could be a useful addition. Simunovic played well over 100 games during his five seasons in Glasgow and represented Croatia at every level up to Under-21.
LB: Victor Alvarez
A La Masia academy graduate, Alvarez made 75 La Liga appearances with Espanyol and recently spent three years at Russian Premier League club Arsenal Tula.
He can play as a left-back or left-winger, and, at 27, should be coming into his prime.
CM: Jack Wilshere
Once the future of English football, Wilshere’s career has been derailed by injury problems, and he was released by West Ham in October 2020.
While he will never get over his injuries, the 29-year-old is still an immensely talented player and may feel like he has something to prove.
“I think I want to try something different, LaLiga or Italy, something not many English players have done,” Wilshere told talkSPORT in October.
“I will probably take a week or two to decide. I was in this position at Arsenal and if I learned anything from that it is to take your time. It’s not that I have any regrets at joining West Ham, I just need to take the time.”
CM: Shinji Kagawa
Kagawa made 57 appearances over two seasons for Manchester United, yet despite a few moments of brilliance, he never truly settled at Old Trafford.
As he repeatedly showed for Borussia Dortmund and Japan, though, there is a seriously talented player in there.
The 31-year-old spent last season in the Spanish second tier with Real Zaragoza but was released in October with a year still left on his deal.
CM: Samir Nasri
Despite starring for Arsenal and winning two Premier League titles during his time at Manchester City, Nasri never quite fulfilled his potential.
The enigmatic midfielder has also had his fair share of controversies, receiving an 18-month ban in 2018 after he was found to have violated UEFA’s anti-
He was released by Anderlecht at the end of 2019-20 but will still add an element of flair and creativity to any side.
RW: Daniel Sturridge
It doesn’t seem like five minutes since Sturridge was playing great football alongside Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling in Liverpool’s title-chasing team.
The striker has been without a club since leaving Turkish side Trabzonspor in March 2020 after being handed a four-month ban for breaching betting rules.
“We have options around the world but I’m an English player and I’ve always loved playing in the Premier League,” Sturridge told Sky Sports in August 2020.
“I believe I’ve got a lot to give to the Premier League and I would say that’s my first choice. I do feel I have unfinished business so I would like to go back and play there.
“I’m open to playing in other leagues, it’s not just the Premier League I’m going to consider, but to come back to England and give my best would be a huge option for me. I’m very excited, I’m hungrier than ever and I’m totally focused on the next chapter.”
ST: Mario Mandzukic
It’s not very often that a Champions League winner and World Cup finalist is available for nothing but Mandzukic is a free agent with an incredible CV.
After spending six months in Qatar with Al-Duhail, the former Juventus, Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich striker terminated his contract in July 2020.
“He is training in a very serious way like he’s always done. He is working in Zagreb and is 100% fit,” his agent Ivan Cvjetkovic told Tuttosport in November 2020. “He is waiting for the right opportunity, a team that really wants him. He believes he can be decisive again.
“He refused some offers because he wasn’t convinced they really wanted to sign him. There have been fakes news, he’s been linked with clubs that never wanted him.
“I don’t know if he will play in Italy again, he is born to play in the Premier League but he never had the right chance. He is 200% ready.”
LW: Diego Costa
We know Costa isn’t actually a winger but we had to fit him in somewhere.
Having been replaced by fellow shithouse Luis Suarez, the Spain international asked for his Atletico Madrid contract to be terminated six months early.
Wolves and Arsenal are reportedly interested in a move for the striker and we’d love to see him back in the Premier League.
This section is a veritable who’s who of lower-mid-table Premier League talent of the early-to-mid-2010s.
Ex-Stoke wingers Ibrahim Affelay and Bojan Krkic are both currently looking for a clubs, as is silken-touched ex-Newcaslte midfielder Yohan Cabaye, who spent last season at Saint-Etienne.
Powerful former Spurs and QPR man Sandro is also available having left Goias in Brazil, as is his compatriot Ramires, whose unhappy spell with Palmeiras came to an end in November.