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Top 10 free transfers of all time 

Robert Lewandowski (centre) is one of the top free transfers of all time.
Robert Lewandowski (centre) is one of the top free transfers of all time.
Sanstab Das
Modified 07 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

With the 2020-21 season drawing to a close, teams have commenced their preparations for the upcoming summer transfer window.

While big-money signings often become the talk of the town, often loan deals and free-agent signings turn out to be more ingenious moves. In a highly inflated transfer market, selling clubs usually demand more than the market value of players, especially when the buying club is an elite in the continent.

Top ten free transfers of all time

With transfer fees of players reaching astronomical heights, clubs have often looked at the free-agent market, especially in recent times, to make useful additions to their rosters.

Juventus have made some of the biggest coups in world football without spending a dime. Free-transfer deals work well for all parties involved, as players are in a position to demand higher wages without the pressure of a huge transfer fee.

On that note, let's take a look at the top ten free transfers of all time.

#10 Zlatan Ibrahimovic | PSG to Manchester United (2016)

Zlatan Ibrahimovich (left)
Zlatan Ibrahimovich (left)

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is one of the biggest names in the modern game, having enjoyed an exceptional career in some of the biggest leagues in Europe.

The enigmatic Swede was reunited with his former manager, Jose Mourinho, when he joined forces with Manchester United in 2016. Ibrahimovich departed Parc des Princes at the end of his contract and signed with United on a one-year deal.

United paid a fee in the region of $115 million for Paul Pogba in that same transfer window. But it was Zlatan Ibrahimovich who was arguably United's best player that season.

The 39-year old notched up 28 goals and ten assists from 46 appearances in his debut season, adding three more trophies - Community Shield, Europa League, and Carabao Cup - to his burgeoning cabinet.


#9 Miroslav Klose | Bayern Munich to Lazio (2011)

Tottenham Hotspur FC v S.S. Lazio - UEFA Europa League
Tottenham Hotspur FC v S.S. Lazio - UEFA Europa League

Next up, we have the leading goal-scorer in World Cup football - Miroslav Klose. The German left Bayern Munich when he was 33, after winning some of the biggest titles in German football.

Despite his exploits, Bayern Munich weren't reluctant to renew the contract of their ageing striker, and Klose found a new home at the Stadio Olimpico.

In 170 appearances for Lazio, the striker scored 64 goals, making him the second-highest foreign goal-scorer in the club's history. Klose also played a pivotal role in Lazio's Coppa Italia triumph in 2012-13.

Klose played five seasons at Lazio before hanging up his boots in 2016.

#8 Esteban Cambiasso | Real Madrid to Inter Milan

Esteban Cambiasso
Esteban Cambiasso

Esteban Cambiasso is one of the few who can be included twice in this list.

The first instance would be his move from Real Madrid to Inter Milan in 2004, where he won five consecutive Serie A titles. In the second instance, Cambiasso moved to Leicester City on a free transfer in 2014, playing a pivotal role in helping the future Premier League winners stave off relegation.

The Italian midfielder was one of the most under-utilized players at Real Madrid back in the day, as Los Blancos laid more emphasis on the 'Galacticos'.

Inter Milan signed the then-24 year old on a free transfer, and Cambiasso quickly became one of the first names in their team sheet. Cambiasso was the engine room in Inter's midfield, winning five Scudetto in a row and a European treble in 2010.

In 315 appearances for Inter Milan, Cambiasso found the back of the net on 41 occasions.

In 2014, Cambiasso moved from Inter Milan to Leicester City on a free transfer. Even though he wasn't a part of Leicester's magical 2015/16 Premier League triumph, he played a pivotal role in that win.


In the 2014-15 campaign, Leicester City looked good to be relegated. Still, the Argentine helped them mount a miraculous comeback, winning seven of their final nine games to avoid the much-dreaded drop.

The rest, as they say, is history. Leicester City went on to script one of the most improbable league triumphs in the game's history.

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Published 07 Apr 2021, 20:17 IST
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