With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on the financial world, football clubs, business behemoths themselves, have endured a torrid time in the last few months. In such a scenario, clubs have been keen to snap up talented free agents to bolster their squads and keep their books in the black.
With money in short supply, clubs are also willing to let targets run down their contracts and become free agents before making a move for them. However, even in a world where high-profile free agents are a precious commodity, quite a few of them are yet to find a club and remain unattached to one as we approach the January transfer window.
The reasons for the same vary in the capricious world of football. World Cup star Danijel Subasic's value has suddenly dropped while big clubs are also wary of touching former hot property Mario Balotelli, with the player having developed a reputation for volatility.
Ten most valuable free agents at the moment:
In a season unlike any other, clubs have suffered from injury issues due to fixture pile-ups, a situation that could result in many of these free agents finding new homes soon.
Many free agents currently available still have a hefty market value engendered by their previous reputations. On that note, let us take a look at the ten most valuable free agents currently available.
#10 Kevin Stewart - €2.8 million
Once a Liverpool midfielder, Kevin Stewart never managed to hold down a permanent spot in a Premier League team.
He made the move to Championship side Hull City last season. However, after Hull got relegated, Stewart was let go by the club, and the 27-year-old is yet to find a new home yet.
#9 Mario Balotelli - €3 million
Once one of the most coveted young strikers of Europe, Mario Balotelli's fall from grace has been striking. A proven performer with Italy and a continental treble-winner with Inter Milan, Super Mario also won the Premier League with Manchester City.
Balotelli scored regularly for most of his clubs, but he was often accused of indiscipline and quite often got into unseemly off-field controversies.
He did fail at Liverpool but regained his mojo to some extent at Nice. However, his reputation took a gradual nosedive over the years, and he was no longer being courted by the biggies. Balotelli's last spell was at hometown club Brescia, who got relegated to Serie B, and the automatic renewal clause in his contract was thus not activated.
Balotelli's contract with the club was eventually terminated when the striker did not turn up for training. It is expected that he could find a new club in the winter transfer window, but at only 30, he is a pale shadow of the striker who helped Italy reach the Euro 2012 final.
Italy coach Roberto Mancini recently rued the situation of his former protege Balotelli:
"I am very sorry to see him in this condition. At the age of 30, he should be in full technical football maturity and would have been very useful to the national team."