Free Transfer XI: The pick of the players still available following the closure of the transfer window
It's not all about the big-money buys. There are some players currently without a club who are capable of making an impact across Europe. Here are just some of them...
By Adam Bate
Last Updated: 04/09/14 11:57am
Still not had your transfer fix? There are still players out there looking to find a new club this summer...
This XI features players who have won World Cups and Champions Leagues, starting with a goalkeeper whose trophy cabinet is the envy of millions...
Valdes walked away from Barcelona in search of a new challenge after winning three Champions Leagues and six Primera Liga titles for the Catalan club, but a move to AS Monaco broke down following injury problems. Despite that setback, the Spain international should be in the prime of his career as a 32-year-old goalkeeper and there is plenty of time for him to contribute significantly at a top club. Any of the big guns with doubts over their first-choice keeper could be interested.
The experienced right-back was last seen at Napoli and boasts an impressive pedigree having played 20 times for France. He was part of his country’s 2010 World Cup squad, also featuring at Euro 2012, and the long-time Lyon man could still do a job for someone at the age of 34. Having also played in Spain for Valencia as well as those stints in France and Italy, he is a player likely to attract interest from across Europe’s big leagues.
Marchena was part of the Spain success story in the squad that won Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup. Indeed, the central defender went an unprecedented 50 games unbeaten in international football, beating the record of Brazilian icon Garrincha. Those days at the top are now over at the age of 35 but he was still capable enough to play regularly in Deportivo La Coruna’s promotion-winning campaign last season and could add experience to a back line in need of help.
After a lengthy career at Lazio, the French defender moved to Sunderland last summer with little success and had his contract cancelled at Stadium of Light. Diakite was part of a failed influx of new arrivals during the Paolo di Canio reign and was soon shipped out on loan to Fiorentina, where he spent the back end of last season. Despite the career misstep, the 27-year-old has time on his side and the best years might be ahead of him. It’s all about the next move.
Dossena is another who failed to ignite at Sunderland last season, but has an impressive CV to his name having played for Liverpool as well as a host of Serie A sides. The Italian’s most impressive performances came in his time at Napoli, where he operated as a left wing-back, and the renewed popularity of the formation could make the 32-year-old an intriguing option for various clubs tinkering with the system
The former Ballon d’Or winner was captain on Brazil as recently as April 2013 and went on to help Atletico Mineiro to Copa Libertadores success later that summer. But after falling out of favour with Luis Felipe Scolari, things have declined rapidly for the iconic former Barcelona star and he is now a free agent weighing up options in lesser leagues around the world. Will someone be willing to offer him one final throw of the dice in Europe?
Diarra featured briefly for West Ham last season but left the club by mutual consent this summer. The veteran France international midfielder certainly has pedigree after spells at Bayern Munich and Liverpool early in his career but that’s a long time ago now and Diarra has not featured for his country since 2012, enduring an unsuccessful loan spell at Rennes the following year. He would surely be a stop-gap move at best for a club looking to add numbers.
The one-time great hope for Greek football has had an alarming fall from grace in recent years. After becoming the youngest player ever to score for Greece at the age of 18, Ninis featured at the 2010 World Cup and Euro 2012 but his career has since stalled and he was omitted from the national team squad for the tournament in Brazil. Released by Italian club Parma, the tricky midfielder finds himself without a club at the age of 24.
The 34-year-old France international winger has enjoyed a fine career at home and abroad with the likes of Lyon and Chelsea. Malouda last featuring for the Blues as a substitute in their 2012 Champions League win but his career subsequently stalled after sitting out the final year of a lucrative deal at Stamford Bridge. After a brief stay with Trabzonspor he is available again and might be an option for clubs looking for proven quality.
The Brazil international forward has been playing in the Middle East since 2012 but is now available on a free transfer after having his Al-Jaish contract cancelled by mutual consent this summer. The skilful striker only recently turned 30 and if he can even come close to replicate his Villarreal form he could prove a useful buy. Nilmar hit 18 goals for the Yellow Submarine in the 2010/11 season and has nine goals to his name from 23 appearances for Brazil.
The burly striker was part of Portugal’s World Cup starting line-up for their opening game against Germany in the summer but was injured in the first half and now finds himself still without a club following his Besiktas exit. Pace was never a strength and is likely to be a growing issue now he’s turned 30, but Almeida is an effective and consistent target man. He’s reached double figures in all competitions in each of the last seven seasons and could do a good job for someone.