Stars from across European leagues now free agents
The annual scramble for free transfers has a unique feel to it this year with the coronavirus pandemic throwing football into chaos.
Clubs have agreed short-term deals with some players whose contracts were due to expire on June 30 so they can see out the season, which will end in late July or August depending on if a club is involved in European competition.
For many though, that has not been the case, with a host of players becoming free agents across Europe from July 1.
If signed, these players won’t be able to play until next season, which will not start until September at the earliest, but that won’t stop clubs scrambling around to snap up some of the game-changing players on offer.
We’ve heard all about the Premier League players who are now free agents, but here are the European stars who are now without clubs and available for nothing.
1. Edinson Cavani (released by PSG)
Cavani’s seven-year stay in France has come to a rather abrupt end after the Uruguayan striker failed to agree terms to stay on for the conclusion of the Champions League in August.
The signing of Mauro Icardi last summer relegated Cavani to the role of reserve but, at the age of 33, he should still have a couple of seasons left in him at the top level and is a target of some of Europe’s biggest clubs.
2. Mario Gotze (released by Dortmund)
Still only 28, the man who scored the winner in the 2014 World Cup final is looking for a new challenge having been released by Dortmund, whose season is already over.
Injuries and health problems slowed the German playmaker down in his mid-20s, but a fresh challenge abroad - probably with AC Milan - could reignite his career.
He has also been linked with a reunion with Jurgen Klopp at Anfield and, with Liverpool reconsidering their transfer plans due to the coronavirus pandemic, could he be a low-cost solution?
3. Benedikt Howedes (released by Lokomotiv Moscow)
A starter for Germany in the 2014 World Cup final, versatile defender Howedes has also seen his career drift because of injuries.
His impressive form for Schalke in the Bundesliga secured a dream move to Juventus in 2017 but it turned into a nightmare and after two years in Russia he is looking to move back west for a final challenge at the age of 32.
Will a Premier League club rival a host of Bundesliga suitors?
4. Adil Rami (released by Sochi)
Another World Cup winner, Rami’s colourful career is in its twilight but as a centre back he could still have a couple more seasons left in him at the age of 34.
A former beau of Pamela Anderson’s, Rami has been released by three clubs in nine months - Marseille, Fenerbahce and Sochi.
He has played at a number of high-profile sides though, including Sevilla, Valencia and AC Milan.
A return to France appears his most likely move but he could do a job in the Premier League.
5. John Obi Mikel (released by Trabzonspor)
After 11 years at Chelsea where he won absolutely everything on offer, Nigerian midfielder Mikel has lived a nomadic existence in the last few years.
He has turned up in Tianjin, Turkey and Teesside, playing for Middlesbrough in the back end of last season before being released at the end of 2018-19.
Aged 33, he might fancy another crack in England and could still have something to offer a team in a holding midfield role.
6. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (released by Lyon)
A name familiar to Newcastle fans, the defender’s poor spell at St James’ in 2013-14 is the only blip in another otherwise impressive career.
After five years back in Ligue 1 following a spell at Roma, he is still in his prime as a defender aged 31.
7. Nuri Sahin (released by Werder Bremen)
Remember him? Still only 31, Sahin became the Bundesliga’s youngest-ever player aged 16 while at Dortmund in 2005, in a record that still stands.
Six years later, he earned a move to Real Madrid but that was sadly the peak of his career as injuries bogged him down, including during a loan spell at Liverpool in 2012-13 when he made just 12 appearances.
The midfielder is likely to stay in Germany or move to his native Turkey.
8. Salomon Kalou (released by Hertha Berlin)
Like Mikel, Kalou won it all at Chelsea, leaving after their Champions League triumph eight years ago.
The versatile forward turns 35 this summer and will want a happy end to his career after his time in Germany came to a controversial end with him filming team-mates flouting social distancing regulations. Could return to Holland, where his career began way back in 2003.
9. Ezequiel Garay (released by Valencia)
The former Real Madrid defender would represent a real coup were a mid-table Premier League club able to pick him up on a free transfer.
Another who played in the 2014 World Cup final, the Argentine left Valencia this week under a cloud after falling out with the club over the sacking of Marcelino earlier this season.
His displays in LaLiga this season show a player still in his prime as a centre back at 33.
10. Kevin Mirallas (released by Antwerp)
A consistent performer in the Premier League for several years with Everton, the speedy Belgian winger is still only 32 and will be sought after following his exit from Antwerp, who also released former Burnley midfielder Steven Defour this week.