There are still many talented players without a club even at this stage of the season. Some have plenty of top flight experience and others have just been very unlucky with injuries. Either way the players listed below could still do a job in many top leagues, and could provide inspirational signings for some smaller teams too.
There are many players hoping to find themselves a club as soon as possible. Below I have listed an eleven, who I believe are some of the best players available on a free transfer.
Last club: Real Madrid
Spanish goalkeeper Antonio Adan had spent his whole career at Real Madrid before being released by them this summer. He was a key player for the club's B and C teams before becoming the back-up to Iker Casillas. Jose Mourinho actually gave Adan a starting place for a match against Malaga last season stating that at that moment he felt Adan was the better goalkeeper. Unfortunately in his next game he received a red card and his chance was over. Adan was also a key player for the Spanish youth teams, and in 2006 captained the Under-19 side to victory in the European Championships. Would be a good addition as a back-up for a top side or as first choice for a lower end team.
Last club: Panathinaikos
An experienced right-back with 72 caps for Greece, but currently without a club since leaving Panathinaikos. He also list Porto, Dynamo Moscow, and Atletico Madrid amongst his former clubs and has always been a consistent performer. He has suffered frequent injuries during his career which has been a major hindrance to his progression. However he is still an experienced player available for free which would provide a club with a solid defender, capable of playing centrally too.
Last club: Sunderland
Titus Bramble has spent the majority of his career in the Premier League and despite not always seeming like the most confident player he has become a reliable defender for his teams. Sunderland, Wigan Athletic, Newcastle United and Ipswich Town in the past have all installed Bramble at the heart of their defence. Sir Bobby Robson forked out £6 million when he took him to Newcastle from Ipswich. Although at the end of the 2003-2004 season he was voted worst player of the year by The Magpies fans. By contrast he scooped all the end of the year awards for Wigan at the end of the 2008-2009 season. Joined Ipswich and West Ham for pre-season training but still without a club.
Last club: Rennes
Another former Sunderland player currently without a club is John Mensah, The Ghanaian has 79 caps for his country and spent two season at The Mackems between 2009-2011. He has also played for Lyon and Rennes on two occasions, as well as a spell in Italy. Mensah became a fans' favourite at Sunderland and a teammate at the time Michael Turner, described him as the best defender he had ever played with.
Last club: Wolfsburg
Remarkably another former Sunderland defender on this list, and another Greek player. Kyrgiakos will be well known in England for his spell at Liverpool too. He became a gritty, classic defender for Liverpool, a no nonsense player that at the time was said to be keeping Rafa Benitez in the job. His perfomances at the start of the year in 2010 led to three man of the match awards in four games. Many pundits believed he was filling the void left by Sami Hyypia. He joined Sunderland for the back end of the 2011-2012 season on loan before rejoining Wolfsburg.
Last club: Fulham
At the height of his career, Diarra was an instrumental part of a Real Madrid side that won back to back La Liga titles in 2007 and 2008. The Mali captain was brought to Madrid by Capello for £22 million from Lyon. He had won four successive titles in France meaning that overall he had now won six domestic titles in a row. A combative defensive midfielder, he did the hard work allowing Madrid's more exuberant players to show off their skills. Unfortunately he suffered a serious knee injury and never regained his place. After a spell at Monaco he joined Fulham and spent a year and a half there. Again his second season was disrupted by injury but he showed he is still a class player.
Last club: Paris Saint-Germain
Sissoko played under Rafa Benitez at both Valencia and Liverpool and was a highly regarded talent at Liverpool for his age. He reportedly turned down advances from Barcelona after his second season at Anfield. He eventually left to join Juventus where he made 100 appearances before joining oil-rich PSG. After one season in Paris, the club signed more high-profile players and he was out of favour. A short loan spell at Fiorentina followed before he was released. He was close to securing a move to Reading in September but that never materialised. He recently spent two weeks on trial at Anderlecht but they too have decided against signing him.
Last club: Tottenham Hotspur
David Bentley's career has been a surprising one. He was one of the most exciting players in the Premier League at Blackburn Rovers. He had a fantastic cross on him, and when he scored a hat-trick in a 4-3 victory against Manchester United in 2006 no one would have thought his career would turn out as it has done. He continued impressing for Rovers before joining Spurs for £15 million. His first goal for the club, was a wonderful 45-yard volley in a 4-4 draw against former club Arsenal. His form would suffer and would spend the following season mainly on the bench. Loan spells at Birmingham City and West Ham United didn't end too well; he was injured for six months whilst at West Ham. He became the first Englishman to play in the Russian league when he joined FC Rostov on loan. However he was released by Spurs in the summer, and is now without a club. Once tipped to take over from David Beckham for England. It could have been all so different.
Last club: Birmingham City
Keith Fahey was at Birmingham City from 2009-2013 playing in 58 Premier League matches for the side. A versatile midfielder, he became an important member of the Blues side. Fahey had only played in Ireland before joining Birmingham but adapted well. He was part of the side that won the League Cup in 2011. His last season at the club was disrupted by injuries and he also took two months of compassionate leave off. His contract was not renewed at the end of the season, and in October was training with Sheffield United.
Last club: Sporting Lisbon
Valeri Bojinov seems to have been around for ages but is still only 27-years-old. The Bulgarian made his debut for Lecce aged just 15 and the promising youngster started to progress well in Serie A. He joined Fiorentina and was then loaned to Juventus when they were in Serie B. He helped them gain immediate promotion before joining Sven Goran-Eriksson at Manchester City in 2007. He suffered a knee ligament injury against Manchester United in one of his first games. After he recovered from this he then suffered an Achilles injury when warming up against Aston Villa. He joined Parma initially on loan, and then permanently but struggled to displace Hernan Crespo and Amauri in the side. He joined Sporting Lisbon in 2011 and despite starting well, he was remarkably banned from the stadium by the club. In the 92nd minute of a previous game, Bojinov grabbed the ball from Matias Fernandez and pushed him away insisting he would take the penalty awarded to them, which if scored would win the game. He duly missed the penalty, which infuriated the club. He then played for Lecce, Verona, and Vicenza on loan before being released.
Last club: Flamengo
Another player, whose career could have been so much more. The peak of his career came when he was around 22 or 23. After two years at Parma as part of a co-ownership deal he returned to Inter Milan where he would enjoy a terrific scoring run. At Parma he scored 26, in 29 games. For Inter Milan and Brazil between July 2004, and June 2005 he scored an incredible 40 goals. He was one of the hottest strikers on the planet. He continued banging in the goals the next season, but then his form suffered. He started becoming lazy, and partying into the early hours, which resulted in him putting on a lot of weight. He was linked with moves to West Ham and Manchester City but eventually was sent back to Brazil by Inter owner Massimo Moratti. He rediscovered his form at Sao Paulo, and parted company with Inter. He has since played in Brazil for Flamengo and Corinthians. He has continued to score goals, but has also caught the headlined for a lengthy ban after head-butting someone. He still has a tremendous talent and has scored 27 goals in 48 games for Brazil. Worth a risk for some clubs.
Honourable mentions to:
Jean-Alain Boumsong, Simon Davies, Sylvain Ebanks-Blake, Emile Mpenza, Jay Bothroyd, Ivan Klasnic, Craig Gordon, Darius Vassell, Sidney Govou, Hameur Bouazza.
image: © batrax