The 2023 summer transfer window has now shut and if clubs in Europe’s top leagues are going to add players to their squad, they’ll now have to look at free agents.
Free agents can be signed outside the restrictions of the transfer window and a few of them have experience at the highest level.
We’ve taken a look at 10 of the best former Premier League players that are currently available on a free transfer.
Note: we’ve only included players with at least 15 appearances in the English top-flight.
David de Gea
De Gea is the reigning Golden Glove holder, having kept 17 clean sheets in 38 Premier League appearances for Manchester United in 2022/23.
But Erik ten Hag decided against extending the goalkeeper’s contract at the end of last season, bringing his 12-year stint at Old Trafford to an end.
He was reportedly on Real Madrid’s radar over the summer, but they ultimately opted to sign Kepa Arrizabalaga from Chelsea on a season-long loan deal instead.
The 32-year-old has now been linked with Saudi Pro League side Al-Nassr, where he would reunite with former United teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Alex Telles.
Last season’s Premier League golden glove winner David de Gea is still training without a club 🤷♂️
(via d_degeaofficial/IG) pic.twitter.com/9AqdRRecs8
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) September 1, 2023
A Manchester United academy graduate, Tuanzebe was held in high regard at Old Trafford but saw his progress hampered by a number of injury problems.
The 25-year-old was released in the summer and has been linked with a move to Championship side Ipswich Town, who are managed by former United coach Kieran McKenna.
“Axel’s a player I know very well, a player of real high pedigree,” McKenna said. “He’s someone that we’re speaking to at the moment. He is not fully returned from his (back) injury yet, so we’re continuing to have discussions with him as that process goes on.
“There’s not too much more I can add at the moment. We’ve got a space in our squad available and Axel’s a free agent and a tremendous player, who has played at higher levels and would be attractive to any club, certainly at this level.”
Boateng had a brief spell at Manchester City in 2010/11 before enjoying 10 trophy-laden years at Bayern Munich, winning nine Bundesliga titles, two Champions Leagues, five DFB-Pokals, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA World Club Cups.
The former Germany international, who won 76 caps for his country, was also a key part of the 2014 World Cup-winning side.
He recently spent the last two seasons at Lyon but wasn’t offered a new contract by the Ligue 1 side at the end of 2022/23.
While the 35-year-old is yet to make a decision on his future, it’s safe to assume he won’t be returning to the Premier League.
Jerome Boateng on his time in England: “Everything is terrible, even the weather.”
In other words you bottled it Jerome lad.. pic.twitter.com/ePz77eH0j9
— Footy Accumulators (@FootyAccums) October 12, 2016
Schneiderlin was a standout performer for Southampton during their rise from League One to the Premier League, and he completed a £25million move to Manchester United in 2015.
But the defensive midfielder struggled to replicate his Southampton form at Old Trafford and was sold just 18 months later.
He then had spells at Everton and Nice before spending the second part of last season on loan at Australian side Western Sydney Wanderers.
The 33-year-old recently joined Turkish side Konyaspor on a free transfer but left the club nine days into a two-year contract after citing family reasons.
M’Vila spent the 2015/16 season on loan at Sunderland and established himself as a fans’ favourite at the Stadium of Light.
The 33-year-old midfielder left Olympiacos at the end of the 2022/23 season and has been linked with Marseille and Fulham and is also considering a move to Saudi Arabia.
“I am approached by certain clubs in the Gulf, I have no particular preference,” he said in an interview with GOAL.
“I said that I wanted a challenge but there is also one in these countries, we see it with Cristiano Ronaldo or other players like Talisca or Vincent Aboubakar. I am open and attentive to each proposal.”
The fourth former Manchester United player on this list, Lingard made 232 appearances for his boyhood club and helped them win the Europa League, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
He joined Nottingham Forest on a one-year contract in the summer of 2022 but failed to impress during his short stay at the City Ground.
The 30-year-old has been training with West Ham United in recent weeks, building up his fitness whilst eyeing up a short-term deal with David Moyes’ side.
🗓 OTD in 2016, Jesse Lingard scored THAT winning goal at Wembley 😳 pic.twitter.com/wAADnNqtnT
— UtdDistrict (@UtdDistrict) May 21, 2021
Pereyra left Juventus in 2016 and then spent four years at Watford, registering 18 goals and 11 assists in 115 appearances in all competitions.
The Argentina international returned to Udinese for a second spell in 2020, but he is now on the lookout for a new club once again.
“We haven’t received satisfying offers at the moment, not even from abroad. The lad would prefer to stay in Italy,” his agent told Calciomercato. “We’ve only had contact with Inter. He’s a player they like, but there is nothing concrete at the moment.”
Alongside Inter, the 32-year-old midfielder has also been linked with AC Milan, Torino, Sampdoria, Roma and Besiktas.
Hazard enjoyed seven years of success at Chelsea, winning two Premier League titles, two Europa Leagues, an FA Cup and the League Cup.
He also picked up a host of individual accolades, including the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award in 2014/15 and the PFA Fans’ Player of the Year award in 2018/19.
His contract was terminated by mutual consent in June and he’s since been linked with clubs in the United States, England, France, Brazil, Belgium, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, but there are claims the 32-year-old is considering retirement.
Prime Eden Hazard was an absolute joy to watch for Chelsea. 😍 pic.twitter.com/RYEzXteG8u
— PLClassics (@PLClassics) January 22, 2023
Anwar El Ghazi
El Ghazi helped Aston Villa win promotion to the Premier League in 2018/19, scoring in their Championship Play-off final victory over Derby County.
He then registered 15 goals and five assists for Villa in the top-flight and also had a brief loan spell at Everton in 2021/22.
The 28-year-old joined PSV Eindhoven in 2022 and netted nine goals in 33 appearances for the club before his contract was terminated by mutual consent earlier this month.
According to Fabrizio Romano, he has been approached by a Premier League club and there is also interest from Saudi Arabia.
Having previously played for Swansea City and West Ham, Ayew returned to the Premier League and joined Nottingham Forest on a short-term deal in February 2023.
The Ghana captain made just 13 appearances for the club and wasn’t offered a contract extension at the end of the season.
He has reportedly held talks with DC United manager Wayne Rooney this summer about a potential move to the MLS side.
The 33-year-old has also been linked with clubs in Turkey and Saudi Arabia but Foot Mercato claim he still wants to play in one of Europe’s top five leagues.
Other honourable mentions: Phil Jones, Sokratis, Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand, Danny Drinkwater, Andros Townsend, Hatem Ben Arfa.