Free transfer list: Messi confirms Barcelona departure

Cameron Smith
Cameron Smith Updated: 5 Aug 2021 20:25 CEST 9 min read
Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 2020/21

June 30 has passed and all of Europe's footballers whose contracts were expiring at the end of the season - and did not sign new ones - are now free agents.

This means that players are able to move to a new club on a free transfer for no transfer fee.

Due to the financial pressures on the game at the moment, we have already seen an unprecedented number of big names moving on a Bosman transfer this summer.

The likes of Sergio Aguero, Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay have all joined Barcelona on free transfers, while Georginio Wijnaldum has left Liverpool for Paris Saint-Germain.

Gigi Donnarumma has followed Wijnaldum and joined PSG, while Hakan Calhanoglu has crossed the Milan city divide to move to Inter on a Bosman. David Alaba has joined Real Madrid.

The Ligue 1 giants also announced the acquisition of Real Madrid legend Sergio Ramos this summer.

The future of Lionel Messi, meanwhile, is still up in the air.

Which players are out of contract and available on a Bosman this summer?

Lionel Messi (Barcelona)

Jerome Boateng (Bayern Munich)

Diego Costa (Atletico Madrid)

Diego Costa

Diego Costa

Franck Ribery (Fiorentina)

David Luiz (Arsenal)

Nikola Maksimovic (Napoli)

Hatem Ben Arfa (Bordeaux)

Shkodran Mustafi (Schalke)

Nicolas N'Koulou (Torino)

Andy Carroll (Newcastle)

Robbie Brady (Burnley)

Willy Caballero (Chelsea)

Gary Cahill (Crystal Palace)

Jose Izquierdo (Brighton)

Which players have already moved on a Bosman this summer?

Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid to PSG)

Gigi Buffon (Juventus to Parma)

Memphis Depay (Lyon to Barcelona)

David Alaba (Bayern Munich to Real Madrid)

Sergio Aguero (Manchester City to Barcelona)

Sergio Aguero, Barcelona, 2021-22

Sergio Aguero, Barcelona, 2021-22

Eric Garcia (Manchester City to Barcelona)

Gini Wijnaldum (Liverpool to PSG)

Hakan Calhanoglu (Milan to Inter)

Florian Thauvin (Marseille to Tigres)

Moussa Marega (Porto to Al Hilal)

Vincent Aboubakar (Porto to Al-Nassr)

Theo Walcott (Everton to Southampton)

Gigi Donnarumma (AC Milan to PSG)

Stevan Jovetic (Monaco to Hertha)

Elseid Hysaj (Napoli to Lazio)

Ryan Bertrand (Southampton to Leicester)

Patrick van Aanholt (Crystal Palace to Galatasary)

Patrick van Aanholt

Patrick van Aanholt

Andros Townsend (Crystal Palace to Everton)

Mamadou Sakho (Crystal Palace to Montpellier)

Marco van Ginkel (Chelsea to PSV)

What is the Bosman ruling?

The Bosman ruling obliges professional football clubs to allow players to move freely between clubs once their contracts have expired.

Players can sign a pre-contract agreement with another club for a free transfer if their contract with their existing club has less than six months remaining.

It was named after Jean-Marc Bosman, a Belgian footballer who brought a legal case in 1990 which resulted in the ruling.

What is a free agent?

A free agent is a player who is not under contract at any club, their contract at a club has expired and they are yet to sign a new contract with a different team. They are eligible to sign for any club.

Who are the best free transfer signings of all time? 

With the definition of the Bosman rule established, who have been the best free transfer signings of all time?

There have been many brilliant Bosmans (and a few bad ones!) over the last three decades – here are some of the best below…

Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich

Robert Lewandowski is arguably the best free signing of all time. Leaving Borussia Dortmund after 187 games and 103 goals, Lewandowski was already one of Europe’s most feared strikers, and his reputation has grown ten-fold since his move to Bayern Munich.

His Dortmund contract expired in June 2014, and after agreeing a deal with Bayern, he joined the Bavarians on July 1 2014 to begin a poetic relationship with the club.

Robert Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski

He has won the Bundesliga title in every season since his move to the club, and his goals in 2020 helped guide them to a first Champions League triumph since 2013.

Andrea Pirlo – AC Milan to Juventus

One of the best players in the world left Milan for rivals Juventus as a free agent in 2011 and the fact that was allowed to happen is quite frankly absurd.

Pirlo was a joy to watch, and truly played the game at his pace, a tempo set by his majestic passing range and close control.

In his four years for the Old Lady, Pirlo won the Scudetto every season, cementing himself into Juventus history in the process.

Not a goalscorer, or a prolific assist-creator, Pirlo did the simple things better than anybody, and there’s a reason why he is held in such high regard at Juventus, the club he became the first-team manager of in 2020.

Paul Pogba – Manchester United to Juventus

More so than his performances for Juventus, it’s the €105 million (£89m) profit that the Old Lady made off Paul Pogba that really stands out.

After struggling to break into the Man Utd first-team, Pogba left in search of an opportunity, and he certainly got one at Juventus.

After signing as a free agent, he made 178 appearances for the club, scoring 34 and assisting 40, whilst also picking up the Golden Boy award in 2013 and four Serie A titles along the way.

His performances then led to United shelling out a world record fee to re-sign the player they had once called their own; genius business from Juventus.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

Sol Campbell – Tottenham to Arsenal

Sol Campbell committed one of the biggest ‘crimes’ in football when he left Tottenham to join North London rivals Arsenal on a Bosman in the summer of 2001.

He had made 269 appearances for the Lilywhites and cemented himself as a legend of the club before his betrayal.

However, it’s unlikely that he cares about the hatred towards him from some Spurs fans as he won two Premier League titles at Arsenal, including being part of the Invincible side of 2003/04.

He also won three FA Cups with the Gunners and after making over 200 appearances for the club, he will have no regrets about the move.

Steve McManaman – Liverpool to Real Madrid

Steve McManaman had initially agreed to join Barcelona in a €14.1m (£12m) move in 1997, but the move fell through. He eventually agreed a pre-contract deal with Clasico rivals Real Madrid in 1999 when five months were still left on his Liverpool contract.

In his first season at the Bernabeu, McManaman became the first English player to win the Champions League with a foreign club, and he repeated the achievement with another Champions League triumph two years later.

In total he won two Champions League trophies, two La Liga’s, two Spanish Super Cups, one Intercontinental Cup and one UEFA Super Cup, and made 158 appearances for Los Blancos.