Football's free transfers have been ranked via TierMaker with Robert Lewandowski and Andrea Pirlo named the greatest bargains ever, while Arsenal's Marouane Chamakh is among the worst flops.
It's 26 years since the Bosman rule came into the game and crowning 'Lewangoalski' as the freebie GOAT is easy. The Bayern Munich No 9 has scored 294 goals for the club since arriving, for nothing, from Borussia Dortmund in 2014.
A great move for Bayern - but one of the worst decisions ever was AC Milan thinking Andrea Pirlo was past it and letting him go to Juventus for free in 2011. The midfield genius was crucial in re-establishing Juve as Italy's dominant club, winning four Serie A titles in a row.
Star veteran moves don't always work out like Pirlo's, though. Ask Joe Cole (Liverpool), Robert Pires (Aston Villa) or Michael Owen (Stoke) - each of these are in the 'Big-Name Flop' category for players who excelled at other clubs. But definitely not after those ones.
In the 'Iconic' category sit Sol Campbell and his controversial move from Tottenham to Arsenal, Michael Ballack going to Chelsea (for nothing!), Cafu switching Roma for AC Milan and Steve McManaman becoming a cult hero - and winning two Champions Leagues - at Real Madrid.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United gets a merely 'Good' rating, as does Dani Alves at PSG and Juventus. Because while they're all-time great players, they didn't hang around long enough to become legends at that particular club.
On the other end of the scale, Chamakh is joined in the 'Awful' category by a trio of Liverpool disasters: Philipp Degen, Milan Jovanovic and Andriy Voronin. But at least James Milner and Gary McAllister - snapped up for free by LFC with low expectations - get 'Underrated' status for their Anfield heroics.
Raul is also 'Underrated' purely because, while he's a Real Madrid legend, it's easy to forget that he did superbly at Schalke, scoring 40 goals over two seasons when many thought he might be washed-up.
Bottom is a man, a legend. Most free transfers can be ushered out of a club fairly quickly. Not Winston Bogarde.
The Dutch defender arrived at Chelsea in 2000, barely played, but sat out his £40,000-per-week deal for four years despite the club's efforts to humiliate him into leaving. "I may be one of the worst buys in the history of the Premiership but I don't care," he once said.
It's almost heroic. But it definitely qualifies him as "Still A Rip-Off" for proof a free transfer can - in fact - still cost a club millions.
SPORTbible's full TierMaker ranking of famous free transfers is below.
GOAT: Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich), Andrea Pirlo (Juventus)
Iconic: Cafu (AC Milan), Sol Campbell (Arsenal), Paul Pogba (Juventus), Michael Ballack (Chelsea), Steve McManaman (Real Madrid), Luis Enrique (Barcelona), Ruud Gullit (Chelsea), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan)
Underrated: James Milner (Liverpool), Raul (Schalke), Teemu Pukki (Norwich), Jay-Jay Okocha (Bolton), Gary McAllister (Liverpool), Gus Poyet (Chelsea), Demba Ba (Newcastle), Paul Lambert (Borussia Dortmund)
Good: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man United), Craig Bellamy (Liverpool), Miroslav Klose (Lazio), Joel Matip (Liverpool), Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich), Josh King (Bournemouth), Henrik Larsson (Barcelona), Gianluca Vialli (Chelsea), Dani Alves (Juventus/PSG)
Big-Name Flop: Joe Cole (Liverpool), George Weah (Man City), Robert Pires (Aston Villa), Michael Owen (Stoke), Victor Valdes (Man United), Ian Rush (Leeds), Mark Bosnich (Chelsea), Freddie Ljungberg (Celtic), Javier Saviola (Real Madrid)
Awful: Marouane Chamakh (Arsenal), Philipp Degen (Liverpool), Milan Jovanovic (Liverpool), Jose Bosingwa (QPR), Andriy Voronin (Liverpool), Arnau Riera (Sunderland), Mladen Petric (West Ham)
Still A Rip-Off: Winston Bogarde (Chelsea)
Let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Image credit: PA Images/TierMaker
Words by Alex Reid
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