From Danny Welbeck to Mario Balotelli the top 10 free agents available

Bargain hunt! Mario Balotelli and Daniel Sturridge are on the lookout while Mario Mandzukic waits for a move… the top-level players still available to sign for FREE this summer

  • The transfer window closed between Premier League clubs on Monday night
  • Top flight sides can now only do business with Football League outfits
  • However, the deadline for domestic transfers in England falls on October 16
  • But there are free agents who can be signed outside transfer windows 

One transfer window may have closed on Monday for Premier League sides, while another is set to slam shut on October 16 – but there is a window that stays open all year round.

Top-flight teams hit a deadline on Monday in regards to trading with each other as well as clubs from the majority of Europe, leaving them with just a small window until the middle of the month where they can trade with teams in the Football League.

However, there is a third option which can see any side land proven talent for little financial expense and with no time constraint to get a deal over the line.

Here, Sportsmail looks at the top 10 free agents that are up for grabs now and could still be available once the domestic window closes.

Danny Welbeck

An obvious question is why would any Premier League striker want a player who even a Championship club could not wait to get off its books?

Welbeck though was on £100,000-per-week and had endured an injury ravaged year at Watford who could not afford his wages in England’s second tier following their top flight relegation.

The former Arsenal and Manchester United striker could not demand the same wages now, but he is still just 29-years-old and at his best he looked at home in the England set-up. If a team could get him fit, he could prove a bargain investment. 

Watford released Danny Welbeck  to get the £100,000-per-week striker off their books

The former Liverpool striker’s career took a negative turn after leaving Anfield last year, and his spell at Trabzonspor in Turkey ended with his contract being terminated in March.

That was shortly before he was hit with a £150,000 fine and a four-month worldwide ban for breaching betting rules.

Those problems are now in the past, it’s proving his fitness that is now a concern for a prospective club, with niggling injuries having hindered him for the last six years. 

At 31 there is still some mileage to be had out of the former England international.

Having served a four-month worldwide ban following his release from Trabzonspor, Daniel Sturridge will be keen to rebuild a career which has been decimated by injuries

Jack Wilshere

Taking a punt on Wilshere on a free transfer is like trying to pick up a second hand supercar at a used hatchback price. An amazing deal on the front of it but it seems like running costs could escalate down the line.

There is no doubting the former Arsenal star’s ability and when fit he has proven to be one of the best midfielders in the Premier League.

As West Ham have found out following his release from the club this month, trying to get him settled into the team has not been worth his £100,000-per-week wages.

The 28-year-old claims he has been in shape for the previous eight months, and a pay-as-you-play deal may be ideal for a team desperate for midfield creativity.

Jack Wilshere has been released from West Ham United after an injury-hit two years

Alexandre Pato

Remember Pato? At AC Milan during a six-year-spell that ended in 2013 he was slowly developing to become one of the best players in the world.

But in line with the San Siro side’s decline, so did the Brazilian’s form and reputation. He has since failed to make an impact in the Premier League while briefly on loan at Chelsea in 2016 where he only played two top flight games in six months.

The Blues were a case of being at perhaps the right club at the wrong time during a wretched campaign for the Stamford Bridge outfit, but Pato has struggled to shine elsewhere having been released from Sao Paulo in August. The talent is still there for a team to take a punt on the 31-year-old but does he still have the motivation? 

Alexandre Pato’s previous spell in the Premier League came at Chelsea in 2016 where he barely featured after only playing in two top flight matches

Mario Mandzukic

Arguably the best free agent on the market is Mandzukic who has bags of experience and a mighty impressive playing career behind him.

The World Cup finalist with Croatia has been a key man for some of Europe’s biggest teams including Bayern Munich, where he won the Champions League in 2013, Atletico Madrid and Juventus.

After his contract with Qatari side Al-Duhail was terminated in July, plenty of interest has been shown in the 34-year-old striker including Inter Milan.

Mario Mandzukic’s proven ability for top clubs in the Champions League makes him an attractive option even at 34 years old

Mario Balotelli

It always feels like Balotelli is entering ‘last chance saloon’ when he joins a club but at 30 years old he is in the autumn of his career regardless following his release from Brescia.

The Italian has been linked with a move to Watford, but an option to go to Brazil with Vasco da Gama is also a possibility with his agent Mino Raiola having had plenty of interest from South America.

The former Manchester City and Liverpool striker would prefer to stay in Italy but his high wage demands may put off many Serie A clubs. 

Mario Balotelli has attracted interest from Watford and Brazil but wants to stay in Italy

Hatem Ben Arfa

Time isn’t on Ben Arfa’s side when it comes to getting back up to match fitness and regularly playing again following a largely inactive 2019-20 campaign.

It was only in January that the 33-year-old found a new club in LaLiga side Real Valladolid but he barely made a splash with just five league appearances before being released after his six month deal was not renewed.

The winger was largely a star during a rollercoaster spell at Newcastle between 2011 and 2015, with his ability earning him a move to Paris Saint-Germain shortly after. 

A tendency of discord with his clubs litters his CV though which have perhaps prevented him from ever settling anywhere.

Hatem Ben Arfa has struggled for playing time since leaving Rennes in 2019 where he helped the Ligue 1 side win the French Cup (above)

Shinji Kagawa

There have not been many Japanese players who have enjoyed as much success as Shinji Kagawa. He emerged as a major star at Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp between 2010-2012 where he twice won the Bundesliga.

It earned him a high profile £12million move to Manchester United and another league title with manager Sir Alex Ferguson but he soon found himself out of favour under his successor David Moyes.

The midfielder’s career has not really recovered since despite a spell back at Dortmund. In the summer he was released from Spanish second tier side Real Zaragoza following a difficult campaign and although still a relatively young 31-year-old it is thought he is prepared to leave Europe and end his career in his native Japan.

Former Manchester United midfielder Shinji Kagawa is looking likely to return to Japan to end his career following his release from Real Zaragoza

Samir Nasri 

It’s been puzzling to see how Nasri’s career never really recovered after leaving Arsenal as one of the best midfielders in the Premier League to join Manchester City in 2011. 

He got what he wanted in two Premier League titles but at no point has he ever looked like becoming one of France’s best players over the last decade that his attacking talent seemed to indicate he would become.

Five years at City were followed by failed spells at Sevilla, Antalyaspor, West Ham and now Anderlecht where he was released by his former City team-mate Vincent Kompany this summer.

He is unlikely to return to England at 33-years-old and is attracting interest from clubs in France and Turkey.

Samir Nasri has been released from Anderlecht following just one season in Belgium

Yohan Cabaye 

Is there a final Premier League run in the creative midfielder who became a fan favourite during his three-year-spell at Newcastle that came to an end in 2014?

After an ill-fated season at Paris Saint-Germain he then enjoyed another three years at Crystal Palace before looking like he was winding down his career with a move to Al Nasr in the Middle East.

However he is a free agent once again following a season at St Etienne. He turns 35 in January, so his best years may be behind him but any Premier League side desperate for experience and proven talent to act as cover could do worse than the former France international. 

Yohan Cabaye has plenty of Premier League experience to be called upon following six years playing with Newcastle United and Crystal Palace

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