The Best Free Transfers in Premier League History

Zlatan Ibrahimovic Manchester United

10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic - PSG to Manchester Untied

In Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s last season with Paris-Saint Germain, he recorded an extremely impressive 50 goals in 51 games for the French giants. Upon the end of his contract with PSG, Ibrahimovic attracted attention from Manchester United, who went on to sign the forward in the summer of 2016. The Swede scored on his competitive debut as Manchester United beat Leicester City to win the FA Community Shield, while he also scored on his league debut in a long-range effort against Bournemouth. In his 18 months with the Red Devils, Ibrahimovic scored 29 goals in 53 games before moving to LA Galaxy and he helped United win the Europa League and the League Cup.

The player himself could get to number one on this list, but given only finished sixth in his year as United's talisman, it's impossible to put him higher than 10th.

9. Brad Friedel - Liverpool to Blackburn

An MLS Team of the Year spot and MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award saw goalkeeper Brad Friedel earn a dream move to Premier League giants Liverpool for just £1.7m in 1997. However, across the space of three seasons, Friedel made just 25 league appearances for the Reds, often picked behind David James or Sander Westerveld.

Shortly after the beginning of the 2000 season, Graham Souness signed the American on a free transfer for Blackburn Rovers. During the next eight seasons, Friedel went on to make over 350 appearances for the club in all competitions, and has since been inducted into the club's Hall of Fame and famously never missed a just four Premier League appearances across seven seasons for them.

8. Jay-Jay Okocha - PSG to Bolton

Jay-Jay Okocha arrived at Bolton Wanderers at the start of the 2002 season after his contract with Paris-Saint Germain finished. When the Nigeria star first arrived at PSG four years earlier, he was the most expensive African player ever at the time at £14m. Okocha’s move to Bolton Wanderers surprised many, after he reportedly had attracted interest from numerous European clubs, however, Sam Allerdyce won the race for his signature.

In his first season with the Trotters, the attacking midfielder quickly became a fan-favourite, playing a vital role in ensuring Bolton’s safety in the Premier League. By the end of his career at the Reebok Stadium, Okocha had helped the Trotters to qualify for the UEFA cup, as well as reaching the 2004 League Cup final.

7. Demba Ba - West Ham to Newcastle

Following a short stint with West Ham United before they were relegated into the Championship, Demba Ba made a move to Newcastle United so he could carry on playing Premier League football. Ba became an instant hit at St. James’ Park, scoring 16 goals in 34 league games in his first season at Newcastle. The following season, Ba scored 13 goals in 20 games by January, and as the mid-season transfer window opened, Ba was signed by Chelsea on a three-and-half year deal for an undisclosed fee.

6. Ruud Gullit - Sampdoria to Chelsea

Ruud Gullit was part of the foreign revolution in the Premier League in the late mid to late 90s and he would finish second only to Eric Cantona as the Football of the Year by scoring six times across 40 games.

Although he wouldn't really do anything in the Premier League and play just 48 games in the competition, the Dutch legend managed to win Chelsea' first major trophy for 26 years when he became a player-manager. As a result, he gets in this list around the midway point.

5. Michael Ballack - Bayern to Chelsea

After attracting attention from the likes of Manchester United, Real Madrid and Inter Milan following his contract coming to an end with Bayern Munich, Michael Ballack signed for Chelsea. In his four years with Chelsea between 2006 and 2010, Ballack won the Premier League, the FA Cup three times, the League Cup, the FA Community Shield and finished as Champions League runner-up.

4. Marc Albrighton - Villa to Leicester

Marc Albrighton joined Leicester City following their promotion to the Premier League in the summer of 2014 after he was released from previous club Aston Villa after making just 19 Premier League appearances in the 13/14 season. The winger played a big part in Leicester City’s great escape in the 14/15 season, in which they won seven of their last nine games.

In his next season with the Foxes, he played a part in all 38 games as Leicester won their famous Premier League title. It might be the most incredible switch around in football history to go from relegation-fighting to Premier League-winning.

3. Christian Fuchs - Schalke to Leicester

After his contract ended with Bundesliga outfit Schalke 04, Christian Fuchs signed for Leicester City at the beginning of the 2015 campaign. After a slow start in his first season under new manager Claudio Ranieri, the Austrian eventually forged his way into the starting XI.

He played 32 games in Leicester’s infamous 5000/1 Premier League and has since racked up 152 appearances in all competitions for the Foxes. It was announced on May 21st that Fuch’s will be leaving Leicester when his contract runs out at the end of this season.

2. James Milner - City to Liverpool

Whilst Fuchs and Albrighton did the unthinkable, their heyday at Leicester lasted just one year and although the two have stuck around ever since at Leicester, they haven't done much since that famous title win.

James Milner, however, left one Premier League-winning side to help build another as he left Manchester City to join Liverpool. At Anfield, the two-time Premier League winner with City ended up helping Liverpool win the Champions League and then the Premier League the year after, and play in a handful of roles throughout, as well as bringing unrivalled experience and leadership to the squad.

Milner was meant to be brought in as more of a squad player, but he ended up driving forward Liverpool's most important era of Premier League football.

1. Sol Campbell - Spurs to Arsenal

One of the most controversial free transfers in Premier League history, as well as one of the most successful, Sol Campbell’s move from Tottenham to north London rivals Arsenal is our number one.

Following Tottenham's failure to qualify for the Champions League, Campbell did not sign a contract with the club, after spending nine seasons with them. Campbell’s decision to move to Arsenal did turn out to be an excellent decision for him and the club one, as he won two Premier League titles with the Gunners, as well as two FA Cups and a UEFA Champions League runners-up medal, as well as establishing himself as an England regular against fierce competition.

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