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Meanwhile, the clubs that let them go have regretted doing so.
An EU ruling allows out-of-contract footballers to leave their clubs without them receiving a transfer fee.
It is named after Belgian striker Jean-Marc Bosman, who took his club, RC Liege, to court over his desire to move to Dunkerque against his employers’ wishes.
In 1995, the European Court of Justice banned restrictions on foreign EU players within national leagues and allowed players in the EU to move to another club at the end of a contract without a transfer fee being paid.
As already astronomical transfer fees continue to rise, the free transfer remains an opportunity for a shrewd coup. Who have been the best free transfers in football history?
Let’s take a look at the best ever bargains in footballing history.
SillySeason look at ten of the best free transfers ever…
10) Steve McManaman
From: Borussia Dortmund
To: Bayern Munich
McManaman signed a five-year contract with Real Madrid in 1999, having rejected the chance to extend his stay at Liverpool and further offers from Barcelona, Lazio, Inter Milan and Juventus.
He divided opinion as a winger while in England but was highly rated as a more combative midfielder in Spain, where he was a key player in Real securing two Liga titles, a European Super Cup, the World Club Cup and two Champions Leagues (he even scored in the 2000 final).