“The best things in life are free”.
These song lyrics may not have been sparked by thoughts of a football transfer window, but for new arrivals to the Premier League or ambitious clubs floating around mid-table, free transfers perform a practical way to strengthen squads without too hefty an outlay.
Brad Friedel was a revelation when moving to Blackburn from Liverpool, Jay-Jay Okocha was quickly a fan favourite at Bolton and Robert Prosinecki spiced up life at Portsmouth.
Players and bigger clubs can also greatly benefit as Steve McManaman won a Champions League with Real Madrid and Sol Campbell completed a domestic double with Arsenal.
A number of players are currently preparing to be out of contract this summer, both domestically and overseas, many of which could have something to offer for Premier League clubs of varying quality.
Abroad, two of the more high-profile names sure to bring about a transfer scrap are Athletic Bilbao striker Fernando Llorente and Schalke’s creative and technically gifted midfelder Lewis Holtby.
But the Premier League has its fair share of candidates, with this starting 11, arguably easily capable of challenging for a Champions League spot, all available for nothing.
The window could be especially vital to Theo Walcott, Andrey Arshavin and Franco Di Santo.
Now aged 23, Walcott is approaching his peak years and his next move will be vital in terms of how his career is remembered.
The opportunity is there at Arsenal to become the club’s next talismanic striker after the departures of Thierry Henry and Robin van Persie, although the likes of Manchester City may enable him to further his career.
The same cannot be said of Arshavin, who almost must move in order to resurrect his career.
Arshavin seemingly had the world at his feet when running the Russian show at Euro 2008, but has fallen from grace since.
A future in the Premier League may still lie in wait, but a return to Russia appears the most likely next move.
Finally, Di Santo’s scoring record for Chelsea, Blackburn and Wigan leaves a lot to be desired, but there is no doubting he has ability.
The fact that he was called up to an Argentina squad this season goes to show how highly his talents are rated and on a free transfer it is hard to believe that he will not provide value for money.
All odds and markets accurate as of publication’s time and date