5 Soccer Stars Who Are Still Free Agents: Two Former Manchester United Players Feature

Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag
Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag

The 2023-24 summer transfer window was big for free agents, with Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema, N’Golo Kante, and Ilkay Gundogan all joining new clubs over the summer. A free transfer is generally desirable for all parties, as it allows the buying club save on transfer fees and players to get bigger contracts.

Despite the favorable conditions, some players failed to find themselves a new club during the 2023-24 summer transfer window (July 1 to September 1), remaining unattached to a club.

Read on to meet five once-sought-after names who are still looking for a new project, a month into the 2023-24 season.

#5 Xeka

Xeka Is Currently A Free Agent
Xeka Played 144 Games For Lille

Once a prominent name in Portuguese football, Xeka currently finds himself without a club. Xeka, 28, joined Stade Rennais last September as a free agent. However, due to niggling injuries, he could not make the impact many expected him to. The midfielder appeared in just nine matches for Rennais in all competitions last term, failing to score or assist. Disappointed with his performances, Rennais terminated his contract on August 9, 2023.

Xeka played most consistently for LOSC Lille between 2018 and 2022. He appeared in 144 games for them in all competitions, scoring nine times and providing seven assists. He was integral to Lille’s midfield as they won the Ligue 1 title in the 2020-21 season.

#4 Papu Gomez

Papu Gomez Is Currently A Free Agent
Papu Gomez In Action For Atalanta

Papu Gomez, who won the 2022 FIFA World Cup with Argentina, became a free agent after mutually parting ways with Sevilla on September 1. According to reports, Gomez was unhappy with a lack of opportunities at the Spanish club and wanted a change of scenery.

Gomez, 35, is not at the prime of his career. However, the left-winger still has a lot to offer. What he lacks in pace, he compensates using his experience. Gomez is an excellent crosser, combines effortlessly with teammates, and knows how to find the back of the net as well.

Gomez’s longest club spell came at Serie A side Atalanta. He spent six-and-a-half seasons there between 2014 and 2021, recording 59 goals and 72 assists in 252 appearances across competitions.

#3 Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard Is Currently A Free Agent
Jesse Lingard Celebrating After Scoring For Manchester United

Former Manchester United and West Ham United man Jesse Lingard has been a free agent since his contract with Nottingham Forest expired at the end of June 2023. The Englishman is currently training with West Ham but the Hammers have not yet offered him a contract.

Lingard, an attacking midfielder by trait, came through Manchester United’s academy and spent most of his years there. He played 232 matches for them in all competitions, scoring 59 times and providing 72 assists. His best-ever season, however, came at West Ham United. He spent the second half of the 2020-21 season at the club, pitching in with nine goals and five assists in 16 Premier League matches.

#2 Eden Hazard

Eden Hazard Is Currently A Free Agent
Eden Hazard Failed To Make It At Real Madrid

Chelsea legend Eden Hazard had the world at his feet in 2019, with him finally sealing his dream move to Real Madrid. Unfortunately, his spell at the Santiago Bernabeu was anything but memorable. The Belgian ace struggled with poor form, weight management issues, and niggling injuries, failing to establish himself as a regular at the club. At the end of the 2022-23 campaign, Madrid and Hazard mutually decided to terminate his contract, leaving the latter without a club. Between 2019 and 2023, he played just 76 times for Madrid, scoring seven times and providing 12 assists.

Hazard, of course, was a different beast for Chelsea. The left-winger played 352 games for the Blues between 2012 and 2019, scoring 110 times and providing 92 assists. His heroics helped the Blues to two Premier League titles and two UEFA Europa League trophies, amongst other honors.

#1 David de Gea

David de Gea Is Still A Free Agent
Manchester United’s David de Gea Won the Premier League Golden Glove Last Season

The most valuable free agent at the moment ($13.93 million), David de Gea left Manchester United as a free agent on July 1. The Spaniard, who won the Premier League Golden Glove Award last season, has surprisingly failed to find his next club so far.

De Gea spent 12 long years at Manchester United, producing numerous top-drawer performances. However, Erik ten Hag did not find him suitable for his system, which requires the goalkeeper to be great with the ball at his feet. As a result, the club signed Andre Onana from Inter Milan and refrained from renewing De Gea’s contract.

The former Spain international played 545 matches for Manchester United, keeping a whopping 190 clean sheets. He helped the club to one Premier League title, one UEFA Europa League trophy, and an FA Cup during his stay.

Arrow to top