Five of the best ever Premier League free transfers

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With Romelu Lukaku remaining at Chelsea next term and Peter Odemwingie still on the naughty step, Baggies boss Steve Clarke has moved to bring Nicolas Anelka to the Hawthorns.

The arrival of the 34-year-old represents an educated gamble for Clarke and West Brom. The Frenchman previously flourished at Bolton and while his time at Chelsea ended meekly, he was the Premier League’s top scorer in 2008-09.

Half a season at Serie A champions Juventus, meanwhile, will ensure he arrives ready for action and, should he find form, West Brom could be a worthy shout to finish in the top six with Ladbrokes offering 14/1.

If Anelka does hit the high notes in the Midlands, Clarke could well have landed the kind of free transfer to rank alongside the following famous five.

Demba Ba – West Ham United to Newcastle United

The Senegalese star may have failed to fire the Hammers to Premier League safety in 2011, but a return of seven goals in 12 games was enough to catch the Toon Army’s eye.

Upon relegation, Ba activated a release clause in his deal with the Londoners and moved to Newcastle for nothing. In a year-and-a-half on Tyneside, the 28-year-old scored 29 goals in 54 Premier League games before moving to Chelsea for £7 million last January.

Kevin Davies – Southampton to Bolton Wanderers

Signed from Southampton in 2003 following four forgettable years on the south coast, Trotters fans would be forgiven for wondering what Sam Allardyce was thinking when he moved for the barrel-chested striker.

It proved to be a masterstroke for the Bolton boss, with Davies discovering his best form at the Reebok over a ten-year spell with the club. During that time the Trotters made the Carling Cup final and competed in Europe, while Davies earned an England call-up.

Gary McAllister – Coventry City to Liverpool

Many an eyebrow was raised at the arrival of the 36-year-old McAllister at Anfield in 2000, but the Scot proved to be arguably Gerard Houllier’s most astute purchase.

Although sent off on his full Reds debut, he played an integral part in the team’s march to a cup treble in 2001. Coming on as a substitute in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal he, along with Michael Owen, turned the game in Liverpool’s favour and he was at it again in the UEFA Cup Final, scoring one and assisting in three as Liverpool beat Alaves 5-4.                                                                 

Sol Campbell – Tottenham to Arsenal

Undoubtedly the most controversial Premier League free transfer of all-time, Campbell switched north London allegiances in the summer of 2001 with a simple remit: silverware.

With Arsenal’s famous back four all on the wrong side of 30, Campbell, as one of the best centre-halves in the world, helped shore up a transitional Arsenal defence.

In five seasons with the Gunners, the defender won two Premier League titles, three FA Cups and was part of the Arsenal side that went an entire season unbeaten in the top-flight.

Brad Friedel – Liverpool to Blackburn & Aston Villa to Tottenham Hotspur

Arriving at Anfield in 1997, Friedel found himself behind David James and Sander Westerveld in the pecking order with little hope of first-team action.

After 25 appearances in three years, Graeme Souness brought him to Blackburn where he established himself as one of the best goalkeepers in the Premier League, claiming a Carling Cup medal during his time there.

The American went on to spend three successful years at Aston Villa before seeing out his contract and joining Harry Redknapp at Tottenham where he became the oldest player to make an appearance in the English top flight and remains under contract until 2014.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Jack Beresford

Jack Beresford is a content writer with over five years of experience in writing about sport and betting, including a two-year spell with Axonn Media. Contributes articles to HereIsTheCity and Lad Bible, while previous credits include Bwin, FTB Pro, Bleacher Report and the QBE rugby. Avid follower of tennis, rugby union, motorsport and football, Jack also writes about poker for Cardspiel.com alongside Guardian journalist Dominic Wells.