Footballers tend to move around a couple of times in their career. Sometimes, they seek a new challenge. Or because things haven’t really worked out the way they’d have liked at their current club.
Most times, it’s for eye-watering sums of money.
Occasionally, you get a player that runs his contract down, enabling him to move for free. These deals are usually tied up early because all eyes are fixed on getting a multi-million pound asset for nothing.
Despite the transfer window only officially opening on July 1st, this close season has already seen a number of high-profile players agree to free transfers to EPL clubs.
Who are they, and what are they bringing to the party?
James Milner – Position: CM/RM Age: 29
Manchester City to Liverpool
Liverpool have acquired a 50-cap England international. For free.
A consummate professional, Milner is a quiet and popular figure in the dressing room.
His work-rate is amongst the highest in the Premier League.
He is a versatile all-rounder, capable of playing several positions.
The departure of captain and talisman Steven Gerrard is softened by the arrival of a capable (if not quite as brilliant) replacement.
Milner is a good player and will prove his doubters wrong on Merseyside.
Danny Ings – Position: ST Age: 22
Burnley to Liverpool
Though far from the finished article, Liverpool have acquired a good young striker in Ings.
11 league goals for a team with the lowest chance creation stats in the division is a solid tally. No one at Liverpool managed as much last season.
He finishes well, presses defenders relentlessly and has a silky first touch.
A starter for the England U21s, he is on the cusp of a senior call up and at 22, there is scope for significant improvement.
Despite his arrival, LFC still require a proven top-drawer striker because of Daniel Sturridge’s frailty.
He also fits the ‘model’ of players with high potential and resale value that Liverpool’s owners are so enamoured with.
Adam Bogdan – Position: GK Age: 27
Bolton to Liverpool
A smart but unspectacular signing.
Brought in as a deputy to Simon Mignolet, Bogdan will be expected to provide more competition than Brad Jones did during his underwhelming 5 years at Anfield.
At 27, he’s young for a goalie. He won’t be content with sitting on the bench and will try to ensure he’s out on the pitch.
The acquisition of a deputy keeper on a free is likely to allow more money to be spent on marquee signings in more crucial positions.
Andre Ayew – Position: WG/ST Age: 26
Marseille to Swansea
The Ghana forward will be expected to inject the quality that the Swans lost when they sold Wilfried Bony to City in January.
Quick, skilful and capable of the outrageous, Ayew could be the signing of the season.
Worries of attitude issues and inconsistency do linger, but the hope is that at 26, he has matured.
Scott Sinclair – Position: WG Age: 26
Manchester City to Aston Villa
Sinclair had the world at his feet when he swapped Swansea white for City blue in 2012. Forward 3 years and he has made a loan move to Villa permanent, having been unable to nail down a starting spot at the Etihad.
Though it may be too late for him to hit the heights predicted before his failed stint at City, regular game time could see him re-establish himself as a top Premier League player.
Artur Boruć – Position: GK Age: 35
Southampton to Bournemouth
The newly promoted Cherries hope that the veteran stopper shall be a calming influence between the sticks. His experience could be crucial to their survival.
He is a capable shot stopper and commands his area.
His distribution isn’t the best, but that shouldn’t worry a team that is trying to avoid relegation.
Tom Cleverley – Position: CM Age: 25
Manchester United to Everton
Academy graduate Cleverly spent last season on loan at Villa having been deemed surplus by Louis van Gaal.
He is a solid passer who recycles the ball efficiently, as well as a willing runner.
Roberto Martinez will hope Cleverly can add dynamism to a midfield that received criticism for being too static last season.
And just for laughs, here’s a leather bag pictured next to its doppelganger, Phil Jones.