For many viewers, in this extraordinary year, the summer transfer season has taken on greater significance than the game itself.
It is indeed a time of speculation, and anticipation, thanks to the big- ticket moves. Entire careers are forged by the outcomes of the transfer market. Players’ agents and big media houses all thrive on the largess generated by such player-windfalls. This year though almost none of that has happened, at least thus far. That is because there is the small matter of actually finishing off the 2019- 20 season.
Fans, journalists and agents all yearn for the revelation of the biggest deals. None can be bigger than Neymar’s move from Barcelona to Paris St. Germain (PSG) three summers back. The last two summers have also witnessed other such mega deals involving the likes of Eden Hazard, Allison Becker, Romelu Lukaku, Benjamin Pavard, Lucas Hernandez, Tanguy Ndombele, Kepa Arrizabalaga and many more. The biggest of clubs have been involved in these deals. But one kind of signing that often goes unnoticed, yet could have incredible consequences, is the Free Transfer. This is the kind when a player’s contract is up, and he is free to join a club of his choice, without any transfer fee.
Several shrewd free signings have taken place in recent years. The likes of Diego Godin, Aaron Ramsay, Ander Herrera, Franck Ribery, Hector Herrera, Gary Cahil and Adrien Rabiot would be some of the prominent examples. This season too, a few stellar names are up for grabs, and all for nothing! Some deals have already been struck, while others have extended their contracts long-term, with Thomas Meunier and Alexander Nubel some of the biggest names in that regard. Below are some of the key names who may still be signed for free by the clubs, as the transfer season actively kicks in:
Willian — Likely to stay at Chelsea or move to Tottenham
The Brazilian winger has been with London giants Chelsea for the past seven years, but his time seems to be winding down. Reports suggest Chelsea are keen to offer him a fresh two-year contract; but the Brazilian wants a three-year deal. At the time of writing, Willian has signed a short- term lockdown-induced contract extension that will see him out for the rest of the season. He will not be short of suitors. London neighbours Tottenham Hotspurs have been among those linked. Willian still remains fit as a fiddle, even at the age of 30, so he can only enhance his reputation now. Chances of resolving this dispute with Chelsea, though, are high, so it shouldn’t be too surprising to see him pull on the famous Blue at the start of next season, with Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech set to join Chelsea as well.
Ryan Fraser — Arsenal
The Scotsman was prolific last season, in terms of goals and assists, but has seen his stock slide down this term. His dip in form has not surprisingly coincided with his team AFC Bournemouth fared much worse in the league table and now that Eddie Howe’s team i going to fight it out in Championship next season, a mid-table Premier League club could be the ideal venture for Fraser to rebuild his career. But with luck shining, Fraser could be heading to Arsenal.
Edinson Cavani — Atletico, Bayern or the unlikely Leeds United
Cavani’s case is a little complex, as he has signed something of a pre- contract agreement with Spanish giants Atletico Madrid. There is however, still speculation that the deal may be cancelled and he could join elsewhere. With Mauro Icardi’s permanent PSG move from Inter Milan now confirmed, there remains little scope for Cavani to remain in the French capital.
Joe Hart — Celtic
Hart was once one of England’s finest goal-keepers, but has seen his stock drop almost overnight, ever since Pep Guardiola turned up as manager of Manchester City. Being below the previously unheralded Nick Pope at Little Burnley has hurt Hart for sure. Perhaps like a lot of ex- England internationals, a move across the Atlantic to the MLS (Major League Soccer) could be advisable. A move to some European club cannot be ruled out either. But thanks to his failure to establish himself at Burnley, and previously at West Ham United, a move to another Premier League club seems to be a remote proposition at present. Nevertheless, Scottish heavyweights Celtic has emerged as Hart’s prime suitor.
Layvin Kurzawa — Barcelona or Arsenal
His full-back partner Thomas Meunier has already joined perennial German runners-up Borussia Dortmund. Kurzawa’s career has been beset with injury. In such a situation, perhaps a move to a less demanding mid table French club could be best. This will spare him mid-week European or cup matches, so he can work better on game recovery. That said, there is no shortage of potential suitors with the names of Arsenal and Barcelona cropping up.
Adam Lallana — Leicester City
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has all but confirmed Lallana’s free move to Midlands club Leicester City. Leicester is a very well-run club, where other creative midfielders like him, already thrive. Lallana should not find it too tough to get a run of games, deputizing for the high-talent James Maddison. The latter will now need more frequent rest thanks to his club’s likely European sojourn.
Mario Goetze — Fiorentina or AS Monaco
He is best remembered for having scored the Extra-Time winning goal at the 2014 World Cup Final. Goetze may thus be a legend in Germany, but his displays at club level have consistently dropped over the years. Dortmund’s plethora of young attacking talent leaves little space for this gem of a World Cup winner. Goetze for his part, should not find it too tough to get a place at some mid-table Bundesliga side. Most clubs in this league are well run, so Goetze should be comfortable from day one resurrecting his career. The biggest names currently vying for Goetze’s signature are Italy’s Fiorentina and French AS Monaco.