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Winter transfer: Free agents XI

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Vincent Aboubakar
  • An XI of Free Agents who have been let go by the club or whose contract expired.
  • Clubs would look to sign the free agents as they offer no transfer fee.
  • The players include Loris Karius, Drinkwater, Isco and Aboubakar.

Halfway through the season isn’t usually the time to sign free agents, but a few high-profile players are available this January.

Here is a complete list of free agents available during the winter transfer window.

GK: Loris Karius

Loris Karius

Loris Karius returned to Premier League.|PHOTO: The Guardian|

There’s some debate over whether Karius is a free agent, but if he isn’t right now, it appears he will be soon.

When the German goalkeeper signed a short-term emergency contract with Newcastle United in September, the reports vaguely specified “until January”.

Karius never played for Eddie Howe’s Magpies, and it appears he will leave without doing so, especially with Martin Dubravka recalled from Manchester United.

RB: Sime Vrsaljko


Vrsaljko was a former Atletico Madrid Player.|PHOTO: Football Espana|

The Croatian right-back started the 2018 World Cup final and made 100 appearances for Atletico Madrid, but he went from first-teamer to fringe player in five years in the Spanish capital due to injuries.

Vrsaljko was released by Atletico Madrid last summer and signed a three-year contract with Olympiacos. He made nine appearances for the Greek champions before his contract was mutually terminated in November. He’s still only 30 years old.

CB: Eliaquim Mangala

Since leaving Manchester City in 2019, the French defender has played for Valencia and Saint-Etienne.

Despite picking up nine bookings in 14 Ligue 1 appearances last season, he was suspended three times during his half-season stint as the fallen giants were relegated to Ligue 2. Surprisingly, they did not renew his contract.

Mangala is still only 31 years old. Mangala’s £32 million fee and career in top leagues across Europe show that he isn’t completely useless, contrary to popular belief.

CB: Michael Hector

Fulham signed the defender from Chelsea in 2019 and appeared in 19 games during their promotion-winning season. Since then, the former Jamaica international has made just ten appearances for the Cottagers in the final two years of his contract.

Hector, who was released last summer, is still a free agent. Media reports have linked him to returns to Sheffield Wednesday and Reading, but nothing has come to fruition.

LB: Danny Rose

Danny Rose

Danny Rose enjoyed his glory days at Tottenham.|PHOTO: Transfermarkt|

Rose signed a two-year contract with Watford but left after the Hornets were relegated last summer.

He was reportedly training back at Tottenham before his contract at Vicarage Road, but we don’t see the 32-year-old left-back joining Antonio Conte’s project anytime soon.

CM: Danny Drinkwater

Unlike his former Leicester teammate N’Golo Kante, Drinkwater failed to make an impact at Stamford Bridge.

He called his five-year stint at Chelsea “a shambles,” and he only appeared in 23 games for the club. He was, predictably, released in the summer but has yet to find a new club.

The Premier League winner did make 23 appearances for Reading last season, demonstrating that he can still offer something at the Football League level. Still, he has not found a suitor for over six months as a free agent.

CM: Alan Sonora

The 24-year-old New Jersey native, who is also eligible to play for Argentina, scored 11 goals and registered seven assists in 84 appearances for Atletico Independiente before his contract expired on New Year’s Day.

With some reported MLS interest, it remains to be seen what happens next, but you can bet he’ll be snapped up soon.

CM: Isco


Isco in a Real Madrid shirt.|PHOTO: Goal|

Isco was one of the world’s best players, and Zinedine Zidane preferred him to start Real Madrid’s successful Champions League finals in 2017 and 2018.

But in his final years at the Bernabeu, Isco’s stock plummeted as his involvement dwindled. He joined Sevilla in the summer, but he could not rekindle the spark at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, and his contract was mutually terminated in November.

LW: Cristian Tello

Last season, the La Masia academy graduate came off the bench to help Real Betis defeat Valencia in the Copa del Rey final, scoring a penalty in the shootout.

The winger had spent five years at the Benito Villamarin, making over 150 appearances for Betis, and winning the King’s Cup was a fitting way to leave on a free transfer.

Tello then joined LAFC for the remainder of the 2022 MLS season, where he won the Supporters Shield alongside Gareth Bale, but he now faces an uncertain future.

ST: Vincent Aboubakar

Nassr’s forward Vincent Aboubakar celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the AFC Champions League Round of 16 football match between Saudi’s Al-Nassr and Iran’s Tractor on September 14, 2021, at the Jassim bin Hamad Stadium in Doha. (Photo by KARIM JAAFAR / AFP)

The striker, who gave us one of the most legendary celebrations at Qatar 2022, has yet to be officially let go by Saudi club Al Nassr.

However, there are reports that his contract is being terminated for the club to register new star signing Cristiano Ronaldo as one of the eight permitted foreign players.

Aboubakar might not be a free agent for long if he is released.

RW: Juan Fernando Quintero

The Colombian was one of his generation’s most highly regarded players, having been named MVP of the South American Youth Championship in 2013.

He never lived up to his full potential, at least not consistently, but the streets will never forget his outstanding performances in the 2014 and 2018 World Cups. Quintero also played for River Plate, who famously defeated Boca Juniors in the 2018 Copa Libertadores final.

The 29-year-old left the Chinese club Shenzhen at the start of the year.

I am an ardent sports enthusiast interested in writing about football, motorsport and athletics.

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