The summer transfer window has finally shut down across the top European leagues and all clubs are ready with their squads for the 2019/20 season.
However, free agents can still sign for clubs and there are several players capable of offering something to clubs in England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France and beyond.
Could it be a case the of termination of their previous contract because of tension with management or owners, or poor form, that is preventing clubs from approaching any of these players?
They are still up for grabs and could well prove to be worth the risk. Here, we take a look at five of the best free agents.
Hatem Ben Arfa – Attacking midfielder
Market value: €6 million
Once linked with a move to Barcelona, former Rennes midfielder Ben Arfa is currently without a club.
The Frenchman has not stayed for long at any club, plying his trade for Lyon, Marseille, Newcastle, Hull City, Nice and Paris Saint-Germain before joining Rennes.
Despite being a free agent, Ben Arfa still has a lot to give. He remains a top dribbler, a good finisher and a player capable of single-handedly turning any game around with his ability to swivel past defenders and impact the opposition goal, whether it be through finding the net himself or creating opportunities for others.
Then again, the 32-year-old appears in no rush to accept a new challenge as he recently confirmed that he had turned down several offers because they did not sufficiently excite him. West Ham, Fiorentina and Fenerbahce were among the top clubs chasing him.
Claudio Marchisio – Central midfielder
Market value: €3m
Juventus legend Marchisio is a free agent after Zenit St Petersburg agreed to part ways after just 10 months on from his arrival.
The veteran Italian midfielder played a vital role from the centre of midfield in Juve’s success in the last 10 years. With 37 goals and 44 assists in all competitions, seven Serie A titles, four domestic cups and three Italian Supercups, Marchisio deserved a legend’s send-off.
But they decided to ‘mutually’ part ways with the midfielder, despite the fact he wanted to stay in Turin. This brought the 33-year-old to Zenit, where he spent 10 months and picked up a league title.
Marchisio is now without a club but has been tipped to move to Monaco or Steven Gerrard’s Rangers, with the latter assuming pole position in the race to sign a player who has won 55 Italy caps.
Wilfried Bony – Striker
Market value: €5.5m
Former Manchester City striker Bony is a free agent after his contract with Swansea expired this summer.
The Ivory Coast international enjoyed a promising stint with Vitesse where he scored 46 goals and provided 14 assists in just 65 games in the Eredivisie to attract interest from mid-table Premier League sides.
Bony’s debut season at Swansea produced 16 goals and four assists in 27 starts and seven appearances off the bench. This drove City to pay €32.3m to gain his services, a huge amount in 2015 for a player yet to establish himself in the top two tiers in his position.
This is where it went wrong for the Ivory Coast international. He scored just six goals and provided four assists in 36 appearances for the Citizens.
Bony then endured short stints at Stoke City, back at Swansea and even Al Arabi before returning to the Liberty Stadium to see out his contract. He was linked to Brighton this summer but the rumours have cooled since first appearing.
Markel Susaeta – Winger
Vamos a repasar en este breve hilo los mejores datos de Markel SUSAETA, que como es sabido dejará en Junio el único Club que ha conocido, el @AthleticClub , en el que entró como alevín y cuya camiseta ha vestido durante 22 temporadas consecutivas.#AthleticClub #GraciasMarkel pic.twitter.com/JaHvN1WLE3— Adurizpedia™️ (@DatAthle) May 7, 2019
Market value: €6m
After 500 games across all competitions for Athletic Bilbao, Susaeta has bid adieu to the Basque club following the expiry of his contract.
The 31-year-old scored 37 goals and provided 59 assists and shone for Bilbao under Ernesto Valverde. His work-rate and commitment to defensive responsibilities made him a perfect fit under the Spaniard.
But the emergence of Inaki Williams limited Susaeta’s chances as the focal point of Bilbao’s attacks.
The Basque player started just 15 games last season, indicating that he was not in the plans of the new coach Gaizka Garitano.
Susuaeta is hesitant about a move to another Spanish club and Mundo Deportivo claim he could be set for a big money move to a Japanese club this season.
Danny Simpson – Full-back
Market value: €3.5m
Part of Leicester City’s dream team that won the Premier League in 2015/16, right-back Simpson is yet another top English professional still looking for his next club.
Ricardo Pereira – who was the Foxes’ best player last season – became an undisputed starter at the King Power Stadium, pushing Simpson down the pecking order. This caused him to make just 13 appearances across all competitions last season.
The Manchester United academy graduate has played for Sunderland, Ipswich Town, Blackburn Rovers, Newcastle United and Queens Park Rangers before settling down with the Foxes and becoming a major part of their Premier League-winning team.
Pereira has restricted Simpson’s minutes, causing him to search for a club where he can enjoy first-team football regularly once again. It is believed that French side Amiens are favourites to bring in the veteran full-back.
What the papers say
Paulo Dybala‘s prospective move to Tottenham may not have gone through during the summer transfer window, but the Champions League finalists will be offered the chance to make a move for the £65million-rated forward in January, reports the Daily Star.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid are said to be interested in signing Tottenham midfielder Christian Eriksen in the winter, according to the Daily Express. There was previous speculation the Dane could join Manchester United, but the Spanish side are reportedly keen on the 27-year-old.
Olivier Giroud may be heading across the Atlantic to play in the MLS after falling out of favour at Stamford Bridge, according to the Daily Mail.
Ruben Dias, who currently plays for Benfica, is wanted by both Wolves and Manchester United, with the Red Devils sending scouts to watch the defender last weekend, reports the Birmingham Mail.
Jose Mourinho refused to sign Virgil Van Dijk in January 2018 while at Manchester United before he moved to Liverpool, according to the Liverpool Echo.
Social media round-up
Man Utd 'make contact with Paul Pogba's agent over new contract' after midfielder's failed attempt to seal Real Madrid transferhttps://t.co/fINYTHoE7T— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) September 5, 2019
Players to watch
David De Gea: The Manchester United goalkeeper is among a raft of players wanted by Juventus, alongside Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic, Gazzetta Dello Sport reports.
Thomas Meunier: The defender could leave Paris Saint-Germain in the summer and has been linked with a move to Manchester United and Arsenal, RTBF claims.
Mario Gotze: Inter Milan could look to bring in the Borussia Dortmund playmaker in January, according to Gazzetta Dello Sport.
What the papers say
Italian giants Juventus are keeping an eye on the Manchester United trio of David De Gea, Eric Bailly and Nemanja Matic in the lead-up to the January transfer window, according to Gazzetta Dello Sport. Having signed Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal for free after his contract expired, Juve are drawing up a shortlist of players who will also be free agents if they fail to sign new contracts.
Manchester City’s David Silva and Tottenham’s Christian Eriksen are on the list, but Gazzetta says so too are goalkeeper De Gea, defender Bailly and midfielder Matic. De Gea has had months of talks about a new contract at Old Trafford but is yet to sign. Bailly is recovering from the serious knee injury he suffered in pre-season and 31-year-old Matic has dropped down United’s pecking order this year.
West Ham are preparing to swoop for Mario Mandzukic in January, after he failed in his bid to move to Manchester United when the European transfer window closed on Monday. While United decided the 33-year-old was not an appropriate replacement for striker Romelu Lukaku, the Daily Mirror says the Hammers are hoping to sign him.
The sale of Javier Hernandez to Sevilla, the decision to let go Andy Carroll, Marko Arnautovic and Lucas Perez, and a serious injury to Michael Antonio have left West Ham short of goal-scoring power. Croatian Mandzukic has not played for Juve this season and is keen on a move.
Spanish clubs Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad are set to bid for Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta with an eye to luring him back to his home country, according to the Sun. Azpilicueta has been a mainstay at Chelsea for seven years, but has come under recent pressure to hold his spot, particularly from teenage full-back Reece James. The Sun says Bilbao and Sociedad are hoping to persuade the seasoned defender to “cut his losses” and move back to the Basque region, where he was born, possibly as early as the January transfer window.
Social media round-up
Players to watch
Leroy Sane: The 23-year-old winger, currently sidelined with a serious knee injury, is set to attract further Bayern Munich in January. But Pep Guardiola will be putting a high price on his head and will be hoping to secure him at Manchester City, The Sun reports.
Declan Rice: The midfielder says he is happy at West Ham for now, but believes he has the ability to shine at a major club, the Mirror reports. Manchester United were linked to the 20-year-old in the summer, but Rice opted to stay with the Hammers.