This summer, the transfer window gave us loads to talk about. So, being a chatty lot here at Rush Football, we decided to launch a three-part series that looks at the seven best transfers, the seven worst transfers and seven free transfers that prove you still don’t need to spend a penny…
*Disclaimer* when we say good and bad, we’re not referring to the actual ability of the player in this article but their value for money in today’s crazy market. Good, let’s crack on…
In this, the final part to the worst trilogy since ‘I know what you did last Summer’, we review the best free transfers of this summer, aptly named ‘The Free’.
7th place on the list goes to Jesus Navas. Navas has returned to his hometown club, Sevilla, this summer. Navas will unfortunately be remembered in England as a player who can run fast but doesn’t have much of an end product. That is not the same Navas who left Sevilla in 2014 and it is probably not the Navas that will return. Navas suffers from chronic homesickness and will often suffer anxiety attacks. He has done incredibly well to play in the Premier League, far away from home, but perhaps returning will give him that slight edge back. With two Europa Leagues and a World Cup in his trophy cabinet, Sevilla are getting a player who is a true winner, but they already know that and everything else about him.
6th place is held by another player returning to his former club. Jermain Defoe moved south when he swapped Sunderland for Bournemouth. Last time he was there, in 2000 – 01, he netted 18 times in 29 league appearances. Last season he was the third highest scoring Englishman in the Premier League, managing to return 15 goals for Sunderland, he was also directly involved than more than 58% of their goals. The two other players who scored 15 goals last season were Benteke and Llorente, over the past two seasons they have moved for a combined total of £45 million, so to get Defoe for free is a brilliant piece of business.
Darren Fletcher occupies 5th place on the list today. He made what would be considered a sideways switch, swapping mid-table mediocrity at West Brom for mid-table mediocrity at Stoke. He was the Baggies’ captain and their Player of the Year in 2016, he has also captained Manchester United and Scotland previously. Fletcher will be a leader on and off the pitch, this is not his only asset though. Throughout his career, Fletcher has won 13 major trophies, including a Champions League and five Premier Leagues. This shows the winning mentality he possesses and The Potters will be looking for that mentality in some of their tighter games.
4th place goes to a man who made a total of 224 league appearances for Real Madrid. Pepe was considered one of the best centre backs in the world in his prime and at 34, he may still have a season or two left in him. During the summer of 2016 Pepe won the European Championship with Portugal, winning the Man of the Match award in the Final. Last season Pepe had a few injury problems which restricted him to only 16 appearances for Madrid, but he still helped them to the Champions League and La Liga double. Beşiktaş have signed a player with vast experience and much like Fletcher, a winning mentality.
In 3rd place we have cheated slightly. Dominic Solanke was not exactly a free transfer as Liverpool have had to pay a £3 million tribunal fee, but officially the ‘transfer fee’ is zero and that is good enough for us. Solanke is a player who has been brought up through the Chelsea academy but instead of being loaned out to umpteen different clubs, like his predecessors, he has moved to Liverpool in search of more first team football. He has helped England win the 2014 UEFA European Under-17 Football Championship and the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup, receiving the Golden Ball award for best player in the latter tournament. Solanke is the youngest player on this list by a long way because it is nearly impossible to find young players with bags of potential for free. Liverpool have pulled off a bit of a coup with this signing and may be reaping the rewards for many years to come.
Sead Kolasniac is already well known in England and takes 2nd spot. Kolasniac was a product of Schalke’s academy and had amassed 94 Bundesliga appearances before his move to North London. He has enjoyed a steady career in Germany, gradually building a name for himself as a reliable defender. Walcott recently described Kolasniac as an “absolute tank” and it isn’t difficult to see why. He is physically imposing, which is quite unique in the modern game and will definitely provide a different challenge for some of the wingers in Premier League. Unfortunately, Kolasniac holds the record for the fastest own goal in a World Cup, but that slight mishap aside, the Gooners have signed a very good player for nothing.
1st place goes to someone who people in England may not know too much about. Sebastian Rudy has spent his entire career in the Bundesliga. He came through Stuttgart’s academy before moving to Hoffenheim in 2010. At Hoffenheim, he has established himself as a defensive midfielder, although he can also play as a right back. This will have suited Bayern perfectly as they lost Xabi Alonso and Philipp Lahm this summer. In Rudy, they haven’t necessarily signed a starter, but someone who is a reliable second choice and will push the starting players to perform every week. He has 21 caps for Germany, just helped them win the Confederations Cup this Summer, and at 27, is a player who is in the peak pf his career. Well done Bayern Munich.
If you think your club has signed an amazing free transfer and we’ve missed them, then let us know in the comments below. Additionally, if this is the only part of the series you’ve read, go back and read the rest, it’s worth it, we promise…
All prices listed have been taken from the Guardian’s list of transfers.