Although a few clubs, such as Chelsea, didn’t hesitate to splash the cash in the summer transfer window, most teams took a cautious approach in signing players due to the financial ramifications of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, free agents were at a premium and the clubs made full use of bringing in top players on free transfers.
On that note, here are our top five picks for free transfers of the summer.
#5 Mario Gotze (Dortmund to PSV Eindhoven)
Mario Gotze was the heartthrob of German football and one of the country’s best talents just a few years back. The midfielder scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final against Argentina and his future looked bright.
However, his big-money move to Bayern Munich from Borussia Dortmund in 2013 never got into speed and his performances regressed year after year.
He returned to Dortmund three years later in order to reignite his career but that wasn’t to be as his role in the team gradually diminished, with BVB releasing him at the end of last season upon the expiration of his contract and Dutch giants PSV Eindhoven snapping him up on a free transfer.
At just 28, the German still has plenty to offer and can excel in the Netherlands and secure a move to a bigger club in the future.
#4 David Silva (Manchester City to Real Sociedad)
David Silva was simply outstanding for Manchester City and helped the Citizens win a plethora of trophies during his 10-year stay at the Etihad.
However, the Spanish magician decided to end his long association with the Premier League giants at the end of last season and a move to Lazio on a free transfer seemed likely. But Real Sociedad hijacked the deal which left the Serie A outfit fuming.
Silva maybe 33, but he is still top quality and has started in good form for the Spanish club, who will be looking to qualify for the Champions League next season.
The signing of the veteran Spaniard on a free transfer also ensured that Real Sociedad won’t miss the services of Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard much, with the Norwegian returning to the Bernabeu this summer.
#3 Thiago Silva (PSG to Chelsea)
Signing Thiago Silva on a free transfer was a shrewd piece of business by Chelsea as the former Paris Saint-Germain captain is expected to provide some much-needed experience to a young Blues squad.
The Brazilian international, 35, has 89 international caps and seven Ligue 1 titles under his belt. He may be a bit slow, but he has developed the skill and guile to make up for his lack of speed.
However, Silva had a tough start to life in the Premier League as his mistake led to a goal scored by West Bromwich Albion, who held Chelsea to a 3-3 draw. The former AC Milan and PSG defender struggled with the constant forward press by the Albion striker and midfield players.
#2 Edinson Cavani (PSG to Manchester United)
Edinson Cavani has been one of the top strikers in Europe for almost a decade now. Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time leading goalscorer made a deadline day move to Manchester United as his contract with the Ligue 1 champions expired at the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
Flanked by Kylian Mbappe and Neymar on either side of him at PSG, Cavani was often under-rated during his time at the Parc des Princes. He bagged 23 goals in 2018-19 and was the subject of a bid from Atletico Madrid in January, but PSG rejected it.
Atletico Madrid were interested in the Uruguayan in the summer too, but the signing Luis Suarez and not being able to shift out Diego Costa meant the La Liga giants couldn’t afford to sign Cavani, even on a free transfer, due to wage issues.
Los Rojiblancos’ loss was Manchester United’s gain as they signed the experienced striker on a one-year deal with an option to extend for a further year.
However, Cavani will have to wait to make his Manchester United debut as he won’t be able to feature against Newcastle United at the weekend because he is forced to follow government guidance and self-isolate amid the coronavirus pandemic.
#1 Willian (Chelsea to Arsenal)
Willian agreed to move to Arsenal after his negotiations with Chelsea over a new deal fell through. The Brazilian’s contract with the Blues expired after their Champions League clash with Bayern Munich, and Arsenal acted swiftly to sign the 32-year-old on a free transfer.
After a trophy-laden seven-year stint at Stamford Bridge, Arsenal would be hoping for Willian to weave his magic at the Emirates now.
The versatile forward has thus far made four Premier League appearances for the Gunners, providing two assists.