When the Bosman ruling came into effect on 15th December 1995, the world of football was changed forever. Before Bosman took his club RFC Liege to court for not allowing him to switch teams, there was no concept of a free transfer or a pre-contract offer, as we know of today.
Before this game-changing verdict, the buying team had to pay a transfer fee to the parent club even after a player’s contract had expired. This meant a double whammy for the player as the club held all the aces, even though the player was no longer contracted to the club.
This is why the Bosman ruling was such a game changer in world football as effectively, the players became the ones who now held all the aces in terms of negotiating a better contract or getting a move to a bigger club. In fact, players having 6-months remaining on their contracts can talk to other clubs, in what is termed a pre-contract negotiation.
The recent free transfers of Emre Can and Leon Goretzka to Juventus and Bayern Munich respectively being the case in points. Both players had effectively decided to run down their contracts at Liverpool and Schalke respectively in order to generate a move.
Therefore, there have been many cases where the clubs buying these free players have benefitted immensely. In this article we look at 5 of the best free transfers that have taken place in world football:
Note: The players making this list have been literally free. Therefore, the likes of Paul Pogba have not been considered since Juventus paid a tribunal fee to Manchester United as Pogba was less than 23-years old.
#5 Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan)
Esteban Cambiasso is an Inter Milan legend, having spent 10 years with the Milanese club. What makes him one of Inter’s finest signings is the fact that he came free of cost.
Cambiasso made his move to the San Siro in 2004 after spending a couple of relatively successful seasons at Real Madrid. However, it was at San Siro that the defensive midfielder really flourished, winning 15 major trophies during his decade-long stay in Italy.
The Argentine international’s finest moment with the Serie A side came during the historic 2009/10 season, when Inter completed the treble, winning the UEFA Champions League, Serie A and Coppa Italia. All in all, Cambiasso made a total of 420 appearances for the Serie A giants contributing a total of 51 goals in the process.
After leaving Inter in 2014, the diminutive midfielder joined Premier League side Leicester for free, winning the club’s player of the year award in his only season with the Foxes.