With increasing economic uncertainty in football, sporting directors may have to get creative when the transfer window opens by turning to free agents as they look to balance the books.
Potential suitors had been on alert over the likes of PSG’s Layvin Kurzawa, Napoli’s Dries Mertens and Juventus stalwart Giorgio Chiellini, but all three have now signed deals to remain with their clubs beyond the summer.
That leaves the pool of genuine top-quality free agents slightly smaller, but there are still some talented and experienced players who will be available for no fee when the window opens.
Here’s a full XI of free agents from across Europe this summer…
Bravo’s deal at Manchester City expires this summer and the veteran goalkeeper will be free to join another club.
A series of blunders saw his reputation take a hit after he had been a reliable title-winner at Barcelona, and he was replaced by Ederson as Pep Guardiola’s number one.
However, he’s still featured regularly for City as they have dominated the domestic cup competitions over the past couple of years.
Bravo is now 37, but a possession-focused side might look to sign him on a short-term deal.
Marcelo Bielsa may well be looking for a new goalkeeper if he leads Leeds to promotion, and the Argentinian tactician knows Bravo well from his reign as Chile manager.
The Olympiakos captain and highly-rated right-back has been linked with Celtic since confirming he will leave the Greek champions-elect for a new challenge this summer.
Elabdellaoui extended his current deal on a short-term basis to see Olympiakos through to their imminent title win and Europa League campaign, but he’ll leave once that’s through.
“I’m open to where my next move will be. My priority is to play at a high level and be at a club with European football,” said the 28-year-old Norwegian international.
“It goes without saying there are quite a few opportunities for me.”
There had been whisperings that Tottenham ’s experienced centre-half might rejoin Ajax, where he made his breakthrough, but Vertonghen has denied the rumours while remaining tight-lipped about the next stop in his career.
Silverware has been evasive since he left the Dutch capital, but the 33-year-old Belgian will have plenty of suitors after playing a key role in Spurs’ rise over the past eight years, finishing as runner-up in the Premier League, Champions League and League Cup.
The most decorated player on the market this summer, PSG and Brazil captain Silva has confirmed he won’t be extending his deal with the Ligue 1 champions beyond the summer.
But the centre-half has still been going strong, making 20 starts in the curtailed Ligue 1 season, and offers plenty in the twilight years of his career.
Manchester City could do a lot worse than offer the 35-year-old a short-term deal as they remain lacking an experienced Vincent Kompany-type figure in their backline to mentor their next generation of young defenders.
Newell’s Old Boys graduate Cristian Ansaldi isn’t the flashiest name and would be far from a game-changing signing, but he makes this XI as there is a dearth of free left-backs available this summer.
After an injury-plagued career, the 33-year-old has plenty of experience on the periphery of the Argentina national team, and at Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid. He would be a useful squad option after being a solid servant for Torino in recent years.
After a glut of trophies with Spain and Barcelona, Pedro has added the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League during his time at Chelsea and will no doubt be looking to add to his considerable honours list during the next stage of his career.
It’s widely reported that the 32-year-old will be joining Roma on a two-year deal, but the Serie A club have yet to officially announce it.
One of the few available players under the age of 30, Gotze’s career hasn’t quite panned out as many expected, having joined Bayern Munich as one of European football’s hottest prospects before unforgettably scoring the match-winner for Germany in the World Cup final a year later.
A 2016 homecoming to Borussia Dortmund didn’t go as planned and he’s free to find pastures new when his deal expires this summer. Still just 28, there’s plenty of time to rekindle his career away from the spotlight.
It’s expected that the feather-touched midfielder, considered by some to be Manchester City’s all-time greatest player, will see out his final years on considerable wages in the middle east or China, but he’ll remain where he is for the protracted season.
If any major European clubs wanted to hijack any such deal, they could do a lot worse than El Mago, even at the age of 34.
Contract talks between the 31-year-old and Chelsea could be set to run and run into the summer. Willian is yet to sign an extension and is said to favour the security of a longer-term deal than the Blues are willing to offer.
Reportedly keen on staying in London, don’t be shocked if you see the Brazilian turning out for one of Chelsea’s local rivals next season.
It’s unknown whether the prolific Uruguayan goalscorer will remain at PSG for their Champions League campaign in August, but it looks almost certain he won’t extend any deal beyond that.
Cavani has long since surpassed Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the Parisian club’s all-time top scorer, and he’s notched more than 250 goals in Serie A and Ligue 1 since arriving at Palermo back in 2007.
His physicality and work-rate would make him an ideal fit for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid, so don’t be surprised if they go back in for him after a proposed move in January fell through.
Signing for hometown club Brescia hasn’t been the romantic story the mercurial Italian striker no doubt hoped it would be.
They are in the mire, set to be relegated… and run by controversial former Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino.
Balotelli’s stock plummeted when he registered just one league goal in back-to-back seasons at Liverpool and AC Milan midway through the decade, but he’s since shown he can be a prolific goalscorer in the right environment, averaging a goal every two games in Ligue 1 at Nice and Marseille.