With the month of July comes the influx of free agents, as contracts across the globe run their course and teams search the market for their latest bargain deal.
Some celebrated names are no longer tied to a club as they ponder their next career moves, and while some may already be on the verge of sealing deals, others are relying on their representatives to put the feelers out and gauge interest.
Using the latest available data from Transfermarkt, Paul Pogba, Franck Kessie and Andreas Christensen represent the most valuable free agents right now, but the former is on the verge of returning to Juventus while Kessie and Christensen prepare to be unveiled as Barcelona players.
However, plenty of other futures remain shrouded in uncertainty, and here, Sports Mole takes a closer look at the 10 most valuable free agents waiting to be snapped up.
10. Luiz Felipe – £14.4m
Lazio centre-back Luiz Felipe pictured in December 2019© Reuters
Italy international Luiz Felipe was only a fresh-faced teenager when Lazio took a chance on him in 2016, and six years later, the 25-year-old would bid a fond farewell to the Biancocelesti.
Felipe departed at the end of his contract last month after scoring twice in 144 appearances for Lazio, during which time he became Coppa Italia champion in 2019 and also won the Supercoppa Italiana on two occasions.
Felipe – who earned his first cap for the Italy national team last month in the Nations League – is thought to be on the radar of Real Betis as he prepares to wave goodbye to his homeland for the time being.
9. Florian Grillitsch – £14.4m
Austria’s Florian Grillitsch during training, June 9, 2021© Reuters
The versatile Florian Grillitsch should not be short of offers after leaving Hoffenheim as a free agent, with the 26-year-old ending a five-year spell at the club after arriving on a free transfer from Werder Bremen.
Grillitsch would rack up eight goals and 11 assists in 150 appearances for Hoffenheim – either from the number six role or further up the pitch – and he became a mainstay of the Austria side while on the books at Hoffenheim.
The likes of Arsenal, West Ham United, Roma, Leeds United and Fiorentina have been linked with a move for Grillitsch, who would be a like-for-like replacement for Lucas Torreira at the latter.
8. Chancel Mbemba – £15.3m
Porto’s Mehdi Taremi celebrates scoring their first goal with Chancel Mbemba and teammates on January 8, 2022© Reuters
It may be surprising to learn that Chancel Mbemba is still only 27 years of age, as the Congo centre-back departs Porto four years after arriving from Newcastle United for a £4.2m fee.
Learning from one of the finest veteran defenders in Pepe worked a treat for Mbemba, who helped Porto win two Primeira Liga titles and two Portuguese Cups, scoring nine goals in 137 appearances along the way.
A return to the Premier League with either Everton or Nottingham Forest has been mooted for Mbemba, who is also thought to have attracted glances from Ligue 1 duo Marseille and Lyon.
7. Alessio Romagnoli – £15.3m
Alessio Romagnoli in action for AC Milan in May 2018© Reuters
Like Mbemba, another 27-year-old centre-back has ended a memorable association with one of Europe’s top clubs, as Alessio Romagnoli waves goodbye to San Siro after spending seven years in a Rossoneri kit.
Romagnoli did not leave AC Milan without collecting a 2021-22 Serie A title, and he frequently donned the captain’s armband in that campaign, although he only played nine minutes in the top flight between March and May.
The Italy international’s seven-year spell at San Siro saw him find the back of the net 10 times in 247 outings for the Rossoneri, and Fulham have been strongly linked with a move in recent days.
However, Romagnoli has allegedly turned down the chance to move to Craven Cottage, which should put plenty of other clubs on high alert.
6. Jesse Lingard – £16.2m
Manchester United’s Jesse Lingard celebrates scoring against West Ham United on September 19, 2021© Reuters
Jesse Lingard’s magnificent revival at West Ham United would seemingly spark an upturn in fortunes at Manchester United, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick would continue to overlook the 29-year-old for starts.
Lingard made 22 appearances in all tournaments last season but only started two Premier League matches, and it came as no surprise to see the England international walk out of the Old Trafford exit door for nothing.
West Ham United tried and failed to prise Lingard away from Man United while he was still under contract, and David Moyes’s side are still thought to be open to a reunion with the attacker.
However, West Ham could now have to fend off interest from Everton and Tottenham Hotspur to strike a deal with Lingard, who certainly has unfinished business in the Premier League.
5. Andrea Belotti – £18m
Andrea Belotti in action for Torino in March 2022© Reuters
Up until the 2021-22 season, Andrea Belotti would consistently hit double figures in Serie A goals for an inconsistent Torino side, and his seven-year stint at the club has now come to an end.
The 28-year-old racked up over a century of goals for Torino between 2015 and 2022 – 113 to be exact – and he left with a heartfelt tribute from the club on social media.
Any team seeking a reliable centre-forward with international and European experience should not turn their noses up to a free transfer for Belotti, although his injury woes over the past year must also be taken into account.
Arsenal and Manchester United have unsurprisingly been tipped to battle for Belotti, who should not be short of suitors from across the continent.
4. Christian Eriksen – £18m
Brentford’s Christian Eriksen applauds fans after the match on April 10, 2022© Reuters
Christian Eriksen’s miraculous return to football was a feel-good story in itself, but witnessing the Danish playmaker take to the Premier League like he never left was a thing of beauty.
Brentford took a chance on the 30-year-old, who repaid the Bees’ faith in him by scoring once and providing four assists in 11 Premier League appearances to help Thomas Frank’s side secure survival.
The Bees have made no secret of their desire to tie Eriksen down for longer, but the Dane is officially now a free agent and is once again attracting the attention of European-competing clubs.
A Tottenham reunion is no longer thought to be on the cards, but Eriksen could yet don the red of Man United next season after being welcomed to Erik ten Hag’s Ajax training sessions with open arms last year.
3. James Tarkowski – £19.8m
James Tarkowski warms up on April 24, 2022© Reuters
The seemingly unbreakable centre-back partnership of Ben Mee and James Tarkowski would help keep Burnley afloat in the Premier League for a number of years, but it was too big an ask to keep the Clarets up in 2021-22.
Tarkowski was on the books at Burnley for six-and-a-half years before calling it quits as the Clarets dropped back down to the Championship, but not before making 219 appearances and breaking into the England squad.
Aston Villa and Fulham were briefly mooted as potential destinations for the 29-year-old, but Everton – who survived at the expense of Burnley – are now seen as the top contenders to sign Tarkowski for the 2022-23 campaign.
2. Ousmane Dembele – £27m
Ousmane Dembele in action for Barcelona in April 2022© Reuters
The Ousmane Dembele contract saga has been ongoing for several months with plenty of twists and turns along the way, and it is not over by any stretch.
Barcelona tried to force the French attacker out of the door in January before Xavi oversaw a major upturn in fortunes, as Dembele ended the 2021-22 La Liga campaign as the league’s top playmaker with 13 assists.
Xavi has always left the door open for Dembele to sign fresh terms, but the 25-year-old is understood to have been stalling on offers from the Blaugrana and is no longer tied to the Catalan giants.
Despite missing a whopping 102 club games through injury over the past five years, Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have seemingly not been put off, but Dembele’s time at Barcelona may not be done and dusted just yet.
1. Paulo Dybala – £31.5m
Paulo Dybala warms up for Juventus in March 2022© Reuters
In with Dusan Vlahovic, out with Paulo Dybala. The Argentina international is set to be the most sought-after free agent on the market after officially leaving Juventus at the end of June.
Dybala hit 115 goals in 293 games for the Old Lady and is still only 28 years of age, but a series of niggling injuries plagued the attacker’s final two years in a Bianconeri shirt.
Nevertheless, Dybala’s penchant for goalscoring when fully fit is not up for debate, and Inter Milan will have their work cut out to seal a move for the former Palermo starlet in the coming weeks.
Real Madrid and Man United are both said to hold a legitimate interest in Dybala, who was at one stage linked with every member of the Premier League’s Big Six when it became apparent that he would not sign a new deal in Turin.