Was it €100 million as said by Spurs or was it €91 million as the figure released by Madrid, what was the real amount involved in the most expensive deal in the history of football? We can do nothing but hope for its exposure comes with time. This summer transfer window, one of the most active window of all time, saw Gareth Bale move from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid along with some of the biggest business: Edinson Cavani (Napoli to PSG, €64m), Radamel Falcao (Atlético Madrid to AS Monaco, €60m), Neymar (Santos to Barcelona, €57m), Mesut Özil (Real Madrid to Arsenal, €50), James Rodríguez (FC Porto to AS Monaco, €45m), Fernandinho (Shakhtar Donetsk to Manchester City, €40m), Mario Götze (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich, €37) amongst others. Big money signings, as they are supposed to show the ambition of the club, are always important for any football club. But it is not necessarily those signings that always play a significant role in moving the club forward.
Footballers who come for free just to get themselves paid on weekly wages, get outstanding at certain times. And, here we list the top 10 best free transfers in 21st century football. Don’t get confused if Flamini pops in a couple of times.
10. Demba Ba (West Ham United to Newcastle United – 2011)
Ba signed for Newcastle on a free transfer on June 17, 2011 after a short stay at WHU. Before leaving for Africa Cup of Nation he already had scored 15 league goals keeping him 2nd in the chart of top scorer, only behind then Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie. After returning from Africa Cup of Nations, Ba scored just a one goal as he was shunted to left side of a three pronged attack with Papiss Cissé grabbing all the highlights with 12 goals in only second half of the season. They finished 5th in that season Ba contributed with goals in the 1st half of season and showed unselfishness and team ethic in 2nd half of the season. The following season Ba played 22 games scoring 13 goals, Chelsea triggered Ba’s release clause and he was sold to the Blues only after a year and half stay with Toons. Newcastle made a £7m profit on him.
9. Gary McAllister (Coventry City to Liverpool – 2000)
Anyone has every right to get surprised when your manager signs someone who is already 35, so was the case with Liverpool fans back in the summer of 2000. Gérard Houllier, then Liverpool manager signed Gary McAllister what turned out to be a good piece of business. The old man went onto play an integral role in Liverpool’s treble that season. Popping up with important goals in big games, he scored a match winning penalty against Barcelona in semis of UEFA CUP, a match winning 44 yard free kick against Merseyside rivals Everton at fourth minute of stoppage time, a goal and had hand in other two in the UEFA Cup final. His goals in other two matches were significant for Liverpool being able to make UCL the coming year. A man able to inspire the whole team at difficult times, perfectly showcased by his substitute appearance in FA Cup Final against Arsenal in 2001 makes our list despite playing only two years with his old legs at the Anfield Club.
8. Mathieu Flamini (Marseille to Arsenal – 2004)
As a part of his French regime, Wenger signed Flamini on a free transfer from Marseille in 2004 for free. Though a defensible midfielder, he was a utility man at Arsenal filling in a different position on his first stay. For his first three years he was in and out of Arsenal starting XI but in his last season he formed a formidable partnership with Cesc Fàbregas in the middle of the park for Gunners keeping out Gilberto Silva. He played 102 matches for Gunners in his first stay scoring 7 goals.