Bargain shoppers are hitting stores everywhere on the day after Thanksgiving, but world soccer's transfer market edition of Black Friday kicks off in a little over a month.

By Avi Creditor
November 23, 2018

Bargain shoppers are hitting stores everywhere on the day after Thanksgiving, but world soccer's transfer market edition of Black Friday kicks off in a little over a month.

When the January transfer window opens, players who will be out of contract in the subsequent summer are free to negotiate pre-contract deals with other clubs and secure free transers. Free transfers often represent some horrible business for the club losing the player (see: Borussia Dortmund unbelievably letting Robert Lewandowski go to Bayern Munich for nothing in 2014) while offering incredible value for the acquiring club.

Plenty of stars and key components to successful teams throughout the years have made moves this way, from Sol Campbell leaving Tottenham for Arsenal in 2001, to Andrea Pirlo bolting AC Milan for Juventus in 2011 to James Milner joining Liverpool from Man City in 2015 and many others before and after. Last winter, for example, rising German star and Schalke midfield standout Leon Goretzka agreed with Bayern Munich on a pre-contract move in the winter that paved the way for his move to Allianz Arena six months later.

The summer of 2019 will be no different, with a number of top talents, as of now, potentially available for free in the shop window. Here is an XI comprised of the best of the bunch who could begin negotiating their moves elsewhere come January and would represent bargains amid an era of heightened transfer spending: 


Alphonse Areola (PSG)

At 25, Areola is competing with Gianluigi Buffon for first-team minutes at PSG and with Hugo Lloris for first-team minutes with France's national team. He has the opportunity to supplant both, but he could also find more regular playing time at the club level elsewhere. Areola was reportedly interested–and then disputed that interest–in a move to Chelsea over the summer, but the club filled its need by signing Kepa Arrizabalaga. Roma was also linked to the player after losing Alisson to Liverpool but went ahead and signed Swedish star Robin Olsen. There should be a market for a player of Areola's caliber and age.

Manchester United's David De Gea is also out of contract, but the club reportedly has a one-year option that it can exercise to keep De Gea at Old Trafford if no longer-term deal is agreed upon first. A long-expected move to Real Madrid figures to be out of the question after the Spanish power spent big to sign Thibaut Courtois from Chelsea over the summer, but United would still be wise to lock up its goalkeeping rock for the long haul.

Others include: Guillermo Ochoa (Standard Liege), Petr Cech (Arsenal), Yassine Bounou (Girona)

MORE: Kante Signs New Long-Term Chelsea Deal


Dani Alves (PSG), Diego Godin (Atletico Madrid), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham), Filipe Luis (Atletico Madrid)

The two Brazilian fullbacks, Dani Alves (35) and Filipe Luis (33), are not getting any younger, but what European contender wouldn't take the chance on squeezing out their last bit of talent with only their wages to pay? Alves, who is coming off a serious knee injury and hasn't featured for PSG yet this season, has made it clear he wouldn't mind testing out his ability in the Premier League before retiring.

In the center, Godin had reportedly signed a new contract with Atletico Madrid over the summer amid transfer links to Manchester United only to dispute that was the case. The 32-year-old Uruguayan, considered by many to be the best defender in the world, would have no shortage of suitors if Atletico Madrid doesn't retain his services. You'd think Diego Simeone would find a way to keep his defensive anchor in place.

Vertonghen, meanwhile, has battled injuries this season and, at 31, is on the wrong side of his prime years, but can still be a starting-caliber defender for a side with Champions League aspirations.

Like Manchester United with De Gea, Tottenham has an option to extend the in-demand Toby Alderweireld before his deal runs out next summer, too, removing him from consideration here.

Others include: David Luiz (Chelsea), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Phil Jones (Manchester United), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Nacho Monreal (Arsenal), Matteo Darmian (Manchester United), Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)

MORE: Mane Joins Salah, Firmino and Commits Future to Liverpool


Cesc Fabregas (Chelsea), Aaron Ramsey (Arsenal), Adrien Rabiot (PSG)

Arsenal has already confirmed that Ramsey will be headed elsewhere, with Bayern Munich and PSG reportedly the leading contenders for his services. His injury history speaks for itself, but at no transfer cost, the Welshman represents value and low risk with upside for any of his suitors who are seeking another quality piece in the midfield.

At 31, Fabregas is surely beyond his best days, but as a depth piece he still has plenty to offer for a team seeking an experienced midfielder with a winning pedigree. His time at Chelsea appears to be up, with Maurizio Sarri limiting the Spaniard to just 48 Premier League minutes off the bench so far this season. Along with Gary Cahill, David Luiz and Olivier Giroud (more on him below), Fabregas is among a handful of players the Blues stand to lose for nothing unless they sell this winter.

Rabiot, meanwhile, has reportedly turned down multiple contract offers from PSG months after refusing an alternate spot on France's eventual World Cup team. It's possible Thomas Tuchel convinces him to re-sign, but Barcelona, Liverpool and Juventus have all been reported as possible destinations for a free transfer. Given he's just 23 with plenty of value, PSG would be wise to try and sell in January if it's not going to be able to come to an agreement with him over a new deal.

Others include: Ander Herrera (Manchester United), Juan Mata (Manchester United), Hector Herrera (Porto), James Milner (Liverpool)

MORE: Dortmund Makes Alcacer's Loan Move a Permanent One


Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Mario Balotelli (Nice), Anthony Martial (Manchester United)

Martial has begun to re-discover his form with Manchester United after taking up a residence in Jose Mourinho's doghouse, and while talks swirl over a new long-term extension at Old Trafford, a signing has yet to materialize. He's scored in his last five Premier League games for United (six goals total) and is showing the production the club hoped for when signing him from Monaco in the summer of 2015. At 22, his potential hasn't been fully realized yet, and if Man United doesn't have the desire to see it out, you can be sure countless others would take the opportunity to.

Martial's countryman, Giroud, may not have the goals expected of a front-line leader (he has one in 12 appearances in all competitions for Chelsea this season), but he's proven to be an awfully valuable contributor to his national team despite not scoring much and has a role to play for a contender, even at 32. 

Balotelli, meanwhile, doesn't appear to have much of a future under Patrick Vieira at Nice despite scoring 43 goals across all competitions over the last two seasons. He's 28 now, and teams are aware of what signing him brings, but when he's buying in, he's still an electric talent. If it comes for free, there's little risk in suitors trying to tap into it.

Others include: Yacine Brahimi (Porto), Eduardo Salvio (Benfica), Danny Welbeck (Arsenal), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Arjen Robben (Bayern Munich), Ryan Babel (Besiktas)

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