5 most valuable free transfers this summer (2021)

Depay and Messi were among the most high-profile free transfers this summer
Depay and Messi were among the most high-profile free transfers this summer

With little to no business occurring in the COVID-riddled transfer window of 2020, clubs have gone full out this season, shelling out close to €3.1b on signings. While the Premier League reigned supreme in terms of expenditure, with five of the top six spenders hailing from England, La Liga were on the opposite end of the spectrum.

Serial transfer window enthusiasts Real Madrid and Barcelona had to restrain themselves from forking out sumptuous amounts of money due to their financial predicaments. Nevertheless, this transfer period turned out to be one of the most bizarre windows in recent history.

Transfers that you might've missed amidst this chaos

As many as 1,547 deals were completed by clubs registered in Europe's top five leagues, in the transfer window just gone by. With so many signings materializing in such a short span, few transfers are bound to escape the human eye. Former Milan reject Andre Silva joined RB Leipzig for a nominal fee of €23m, following two brilliant seasons with Eintracht Frankfurt.

Elsewhere, Xherdan Shaqiri left the riches of Liverpool behind to join Olympique Lyon for a cut-price rate of €6m in search of regular game time. Having won multiple titles with the Reds, the Swiss international departs Anfield after three years. Meanwhile, serious Chelsea loanee Ethan Ampadu joined Venezia for his third successive loan spell. Tiémoué Bakayoko and Thomas Delaney also switched clubs, joining AC Milan and Sevilla respectively.

The sheer number of transfers that went through, coupled with the monumental significance of some, truly made this window extraordinary. Along with the gargantuan fees that the past three months witnessed, many clubs also capitalized on the expiration of players' contracts, bagging some big names for free.

PSG proved to be the clear winners of this window, completing seven deals, of which four were free transfers.

On that note, let's take a look at five of the most valuable free transfers that went through this summer:

#5 Hakan Çalhanoğlu (€35m) to Inter

Çalhanoğlu has now played for both Milan clubs
Çalhanoğlu has now played for both Milan clubs

In a move that absolutely no one saw coming, Hakan Çalhanoğlu joined Inter on a free transfer from cross-town rivals AC Milan. The San Siro patrons have exchanged multiple players over the course of history, with the Turkish playmaker becoming the 27th player to cross the Milan divide.

Having recently turned 27, Çalhanoğlu joined the Nerazzurri having spent four years with their noisy neighbors. The current Serie A title holders heartily initiated a deal to facilitate Çalhanoğlu's free transfer, assigning him jersey number 20 which was previously worn by Borja Valero. Having produced 80 goal contributions in 172 appearances for AC Milan, the Turk joins Inter with a big reputation.

Çalhanoğlu's inclusion will provide Simeone Inzaghi with some much-needed creative flair following the departure of Romelu Lukaku. The 62-time capped Turkish international has been utilized as a central midfielder so far and has already provided one goal and one assist in his first two games for Inter.

If everything proceeds in a similar fashion, this might turn out to be one of the best free transfers conducted by the Italian giants.

#4 Memphis Depay (€45m) to Barcelona

Depay has shone for Barcelona so far
Depay has shone for Barcelona so far

In a season full of gloom and doom, Barcelona managed to find a shining light in the form of Memphis Depay. The Blaugrana were victorious in persuading the Dutch attacker to join their ranks on a two-year contract. Depay arrives in Catalonia on the back of a brilliant season with Lyon, which saw him bag a career-best 20 league goals.

Following the exit of their talisman Lionel Messi, Barcelona were in dire need of an impactful frontman. With Antoine Griezmann struggling for form and Ousmane Dembele restricted to the treatment table, the Catalans turned to Depay to fill in Messi's boots. While the two players are clearly incomparable, the 27-year-old forward is already proving to be a brilliant signing by the Barcelona board.

In his first three La Liga outings, the prolific attacker has already notched up two goals and an assist. Depay possesses the audacity to taunt and take on multiple defenders and the skills to back up his claims. The confidence he exudes whilst rounding up opposition players is exactly what Barcelona need right now. Depay's signing has the potential to become the best piece of transfer business that the club have initiated in recent history.

Also read: 5 players who could still leave the Premier League

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Edited by Nived Zenith
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