Greatness doesn’t come with a price tag
Summer transfer window will soon come to a close and clubs are already racing to get the most skillful players in an intense tug-of-war. Some are even facing potential lawsuits for last-minute chase. (AS Roma to sue Bordeaux). They all have their wad of cash in hand, making it rain to lure potential recruits. But what of those transfers who cost nil but still delivered great seasons? See the best free agency roundup below:
1. James Milner (Liverpool, 2015) – The Reds embraced Milner amidst underwhelming reception from fans. Three years on and The Reds made it to the final of the Champions League, with Milner equalling record for most assists in one season. Daily Telegraph reporter Chris Bascombe praised Milner as the complete central midfield the likes of Steven Gerrard.
2. Michael Ballack (Chelsea, 2006) – German international Ballack opted a move to Stamford Bridge despite opportunities in Manchester United and Real Madrid. The midfield magician went on to enjoy huge success with Chelsea, winning three FA Cups, a League Cup, and a Premier League title in over 100 appearances.
3. Jurgen Klinsmann (Tottenham, 1997) – Over two years after leaving the Spurs, Klinsmann again joined the team in December 1997. The return of the beloved star helped the club avoid relegation. The irrepressible German had nine-goal tally in 18 games before he retiring entirely from football.
4. Gary McAllister (Liverpool, 2000) – Not a few expressed doubt when Gerard Houllier asked Coventry City veteran McAllister on a free transfer in 2000. But the Scot’s calm midfield presence made him a vital part of the squad. He played 49 games along the way and won a treble of cup competitions.
5. Paul Pogba (Juventus, 2014) – Pogba moved to Italian club Juventus for free and established himself a talented midfielder equipped with all-round offensive and defensive abilities. Over at the Old Lady, he made 125 appearances and helped them clinch a spot in the 2015 Champions League finals.
6. Andrea Pirlo (Juventus, 2011) – As this list proves, the Italians know good business when they see one. AC Milan’s decision to offload 32-year-old Pirlo could well be a telltale of mishandling. When his contract expired, Juventus was quick to sign him on. The deep-lying playmaker had over 100 appearances for Juve and was able add a Coppa Italia, two Italian Super Cups, and four Serie A titles to his belt during his tenure.
7. Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich, 2014) – The Bosman ruling is a gift of the gods indeed. It made it possible for quality players like Lewandowski to make the switch. And for him, it was from Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich (much to the chagrin of fans). At Die Bayern, Lewandowski hit a jaw-dropping 52-goal record in 69 matches. Lewa has bagged a Supercup, 1 DFB-Pokal, and two Bundesligas. What a free run.
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