The summer transfer window can be a place of feverish excitement and intrigue as fans urge clubs to splash the cash in a bid to boost their prospects, but the acquisition of a free transfer can often prove a sensible way of improving a squad.
Each window there are bargains to be found as players come out of contract at their respective sides, with a number of interesting options currently available to clubs looking at one last opportunity to strengthen.
The window may have closed but free agents are still available to would be suitors, and we’ve decided to look at some of the most intriguing options.
Here are five hugely talented players who are currently free agents:
Jack Wilshere’s move to West Ham failed to work out as hoped as the midfielder struggled to get his career back on track at the London Stadium, perhaps predictably injury problems hindering his progress during two seasons at the London Stadium.
Once hailed as the future of English football it has been a story of what might have been for Wilshere in his career to date, his continued misfortune with injuries preventing him fulfilling that vast early potential.
Still just 28-years-old, however, the 34-cap England international insists he has been fit and ready to play for the past eight months without being handed an opportunity at West Ham and is likely to appeal to several sides seeking midfield creativity.
Wilshere represents a gamble for any side given his track-record of spells on the sidelines and will sadly never be the elite midfielder once hoped, whilst it remains to be seen whether his body can handle the physical demands of the Premier League given he has failed to make more than four starts in each of the past two seasons.
A move abroad and to a less demanding league may be a sensible option for a player desperate to find some consistency in a career blighted by setbacks.
Another player with plenty of international experience for England and currently without a club, Danny Welbeck is a free agent after cancelling his contract at Championship side Watford.
Welbeck’s one-year spell at Watford saw him take home wages of £100,000-a-week despite scoring just twice in eight league starts for the Hornets, the injury problems that have plagued the forward continuing after his arrival at Vicarage Road.
Watford’s relegation saw the club move the 29-year-old on and Welbeck will no doubt be hoping for another opportunity at Premier League level, though like the aforementioned Wilshere his concerning injury record is likely to put off potential suitors.
Despite being far from prolific, the signing of a fully fit Welbeck would add pace, versatility and energy to any side’s attack and he would arrive with pedigree having scored an impressive 16 goals in 42 caps at international level.
Keeping him fit, however, remains the biggest problem.
Mario Mandzukic is a name that has been routinely linked with the Premier League in recent years and, despite turning 34-years-old earlier this year, he remains an intriguing option for sides seeking firepower.
The former Croatia international is a free agent after leaving Qatar-based outfit Al-Duhail, the forward having headed to the Middle East last year following an illustrious career at the likes of Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid and Juventus.
Despite his advancing years the veteran would provide a physical focal point for any top-flight side, his game having been built on an ability to battle opposition defenders and find himself in the right place at the right time.
He may not be a first-choice option in the rigorous demands of the Premier League but could be the perfect Plan B for a side seeking attacking depth, whilst his leadership and winning mentality would benefit any dressing room.
Winner of six successive Seria A title with Juventus before a two-season spell at Inter Milan, Kwadwo Asamoah is now currently a free agent following the termination of his contract at the San Siro.
Asamoah reunited with former Juve manager Antonio Conte at Inter but failed to build on a promising debut season last term, a succession of injuries restricting the Ghana international to just eight league appearances.
Still just 31-years-old he is likely to attract the interest of several clubs seeking strength in depth, his ability to play in several positions – including at full-back and in midfield – making him an interesting option on a free transfer.
Asamoah’s game has been built on his energy and dynamism and it remains to be seen how he bounces back from his injury problems, repeated knee issues leading to frustrating spells on the sidelines over the past year.
The full-back has spent his entire career in Italian football to date with most of it at the very highest level, his pedigree proven for both club and country when able to operate at full fitness.
Another player who has seen injuries wreck what should have been the best years of his career, Daniel Sturridge has gone from England international to unwanted free agent in recent seasons.
Sturridge was once regarded as one of the Premier League’s finest finishers and enjoyed a briefly brilliant spell after signing for Liverpool, scoring prolifically and forming an electric partnership with Luis Suarez in attack as the Reds narrowly missed out on the league title.
Since then, however, the treatment table has been more associated with the 31-year-old than winning trophies, Sturridge finding himself on the fringes at Liverpool during the Jurgen Klopp era after finding himself unable to stay fit.
Even when fit, the acceleration and speed of his younger years has been taken away by his body’s repeated failings and it’s difficult to see how his lack of mobility fits into a Premier League side where a sole striker is often the norm.
Sturridge undoubtedly remains an elite finisher, however, and seven goals in 16 appearances for Turkish side Trabzonspor was a respectable tally last season before his ban for breaching gambling laws.
Having served that suspension he is now primed for a return and possesses the natural talent many may feel is worth the gamble.