Footballers free agents might bring to mind the kind of football players whose reputation is in such poor shape that they can’t find any employment. This isn’t always the case exactly. At the time of writing, in September 2023, plenty of established stars are left without a contract.
Worse still, the transfer window has closed for the majority of leagues. It creates an unexpected, and unwanted twist of fate for these former stars.
Let’s look at the most famous free-agent footballers in 2023 based on their market value and reputation.
David De Gea – Market Value €13.00m
David De Gea was nicknamed not long ago “The Messi of Goalkeepers.” While his form hasn’t taken a colossal dip, his career may have, regardless of the fact that the Spaniard won the prestigious Premier League Golden Glove award in 2023.
De Gea departed Manchester United in the summer. This was due to two main reasons. Firstly, his salary was deemed unreasonable by the club’s hierarchy. Secondly, manager Erik Ten Haag expressed the desire to work with a keeper with better passing skills. Andre Onana was transferred from Inter.
Rumours of De Gea joining Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid, or Atletico swirled throughout the summer. Nothing came of them, or interest from the lucrative Pro League in Saudi Arabia. At 32 years of age, De Gea finds himself in an unenviable position, and hoping for a free agent transfer in the immediate future.
Jesse Lingard – Market Value: €8.00m
Jesse Lingard is another former Manchester United who has fallen on hard times. Last season’s free transfer to Nottingham Forest was supposed to reignite the former England international’s career like his one-year spell at West Ham United had helped do in 2021. Things did not pan out.
Lingard’s wages may likely have been a contributing factor in the player failing to attract suitors this summer. As things stand, and the tock ticking, the midfielder is a free agent.
Xeka – Market Value: €6.00m
Xeka’s transfer value, in fairness, is owed partly to an unexpected deal between LOSC Lille and Stade Rennais back in 2022. The Portuguese moved clubs then for €9.00m. There were even rumors of interest from EPL clubs like Manchester City and Aston Villa. Unconvincing performances from Xeka and a serious ankle injury led to the player being released. The former Ligue 1 champion is still without a club.
Roberto Pereyra – Market Value: €6.00m
Roberto Pereyra has often appeared to be on the brink of greatness. Clearly, he has not done enough in a career that has seen him play in the Premier League, and Serie A. Udinese were no longer willing to take a chance on the player, and, for the moment, neither are any other teams.
Oussama Idrissi – Market Value: €5.50m
Oussama Idrissi may not be a household name. However, at 27 years old, he has won the Eredivisie title twice and even finished as the league’s top scorer. This has helped the player land lucrative transfers with Sevilla, Cadiz or Feyernood.
But the goals seemed to have long dried up. Idrissi hasn’t scored more than five goals a season since 2019. As a result, he finds himself, in 2023, without a club.
Eden Hazard – Market Value: €5.50m
Eden Hazard is certainly the most puzzling addition to our list. Back in 2020, the Belgium international’s transfer was the biggest of the year. Hazard adorned the cover of a famous video game, FIFA, and was about to be the centrepiece of the most famous team in the world, Real Madrid.
Frequently out of shape and often injured, Hazard’s role for Real and Belgium has decreased steadily through the years despite getting a chance to prove himself at the 2022 World Cup. Now a free agent, there were rumours that Crystal Palace or an MLS side (Vancouver Whitecaps or New York City FC) might take a chance on the player who had expressed a strong desire to turn his career around.
But nobody did; the transfer window came and closed. As things stand, Eden Hazard is expected, sadly, to announce his retirement from professional football in the not-too-distant future. It makes this one of the biggest what-might-have-been stories in professional sports.
Notable free agents in 2023
Other well-known players are in the precarious situation of being free agents as of 2023. Some of the most famous names on the list include:
- Phil Jones
- Morgan Schneiderlin
- Jean-Philippe Gbamin
- Santi Mina
- Papu Gómez
- Roberto Soriano
- Valon Berisha
- Aleix Vidal
- Sokratis Papastathopoulos
- Danny Rose
- Timo Horn