Over the course of history, there have been several free signings that ended up being highly rewarding for clubs.
Juventus have been known in recent years for making high-profile signings on a free deal and have benefitted from them, winning multiple silverware. But not always do free agents manage to get a suitor after they fail to agree on a new deal with their respective sides.
In this article, we will look at the five most valuable free agents (via Transfermarkt) in world football. All of these players are currently without a club after failing to find a suitor during the summer transfer window earlier this year.
#5 Clement Grenier (€3 million)
French midfielder Clement Grenier has been without a club since the expiration of his contract with Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais in July 2021. Having joined the club in 2018, Grenier made 94 appearances across competitions for them, scoring nine and assisting 12 goals.
Grenier was a regular for Rennes up until the 2020-21 season but the two parties failed to agree on the terms of a new contract. The 30-year-old couldn't find potential suitors in the summer and as a result is now a free agent.
He is an Olympique Lyon academy product and spent nine years at the club before leaving for Roma in 2017 on a one-year loan. Grenier then joined Guingamp for a season before moving to Rennais in 2018.
The Frenchman is currently training with Olympique Lyon reserves.
#4 Fernando (€3 million)
29-year-old Brazilian defensive midfielder Fernando has also been without a club since the end of last season. He was plying his trade with Chinese Super League side Beijing Guoan.
Fernando initially joined the Beijing-based side in 2019 on a year-long loan from Spartak Moscow. The move was then made permanent a year later. In all, the 29-year-old made 26 appearances for the Chinese side, scoring four and assisting one goal.
Before his move to China, Fernando spent three seasons with Spartak Moscow, even winning the Russian championship. He won the league in Ukraine as well while representing Shakhtar Donetsk in the 2013-14 season.
Fernando was part of the Brazil side that won the Under-20 World Cup in 2011. Notably, that side featured the likes of Casemiro, Philippe Coutinho, Oscar, Danilo and Alex Sandro.
#3 Oscar Romero (€3.5 million)
Paraguay's attacking midfielder Oscar Romero is currently the third-most valuable free agent in world football. The 29-year-old's two-year association with Argentine side San Lorenzo came to an end earlier this summer as the two parties couldn't agree on a new deal. He made 55 appearances for San Lorenzo, scored 10 and assisted nine goals.
Before his move to Argentina, Romero spent two seasons in China with Shanghai Shenhua, making 28 appearances in which he scored five and assisted 10 goals.
Romero also spent a year in La Liga with Deportivo Alaves, joining them on a year-long loan in 2017 from Shanghai Shenhua. He failed to impress in Spain though, managing just one assist in 20 appearances for Alaves.
#2 Paulinho (€5 million)
Paulinho, the most high-profile player on the list, has been without a club after his contract with Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli Jeddah was terminated this summer. The Brazilian midfielder joined Al-Ahli only this summer from Chinese Super League side Guangzhou FC on a three-year deal, but left immediately due to 'emergency circumstances'.
Paulinho had joined Tottenham Hotspur from Brazilian side Corinthians in 2013 in a deal worth €19.73 million. But he failed to impress for the English side and left after two seasons for Chinese Super League giants Guangzhou Evergrande. He led the Chinese side to the AFC Champions League in 2015 and consecutive league titles.
He then earned the biggest transfer of his career, to Barcelona for €40 million in 2017. Paulinho made 49 appearances for them, scoring nine and assisting three goals. But he returned to Guangzhou the following year, initially on loan before the deal was made permanent. He helped the CSL side win yet another Chinese Super League title in 2019.
#1 Angel Romero (€5 million)
Paraguay winger Angel Romero, like brother Oscar Romero, has been without a club since his contract with Argentine club San Lorenzo came to an end earlier this year. Romero spent two seasons with San Lorenzo after joining them in 2019, and represented them in 55 matches. He scored 13 goals for them and assisted 12 times.
Angel, along with his brother Oscar, were even the subject of interest from Barcelona in the summer transfer window following the expiration of their contract. As per journalist Rudy Galetti, the Spanish giants were considering signing the duo on a free deal to solve their attacking issues. The deal, however, didn't materialize.