Pogba, Lewandowski, Raul: The best free transfer in football history

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This summer has seen a number of high-profile players move to pastures new on free transfers.

Some of Europe's biggest clubs have taken full advantage of the rule borne out of Jean-Marc Bosman's 1995 court case, where it was ruled that out of contract players could move to another club without a transfer fee being involved.

Raphael Varane Signs for Man United (The Football Terrace)

In the last couple of months alone, Barcelona have secured the signatures of Sergio Aguero, Memphis Depay and Eric Garcia on such deals. Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain have added Sergio Ramos and Gianluigi Donnarumma to their ranks for free, while Real Madrid have recruited David Alaba from Bayern Munich on the same terms.

There's some serious talent mentioned above. However, they'll have to perform exceptionally well in their new surroundings to top some of football's best-ever free transfers. Here, per fourfourtwo.com, are 11 of the most successful Bosman moves in history.

Football's greatest free transfers of all time

Roberto Baggio (Milan to Bologna, 1997)

At just 31 years old, AC Milan decided that Baggio was past his best by 1997 and opted not to extend his stay at the San Siro. A move to Bologna followed, where he quickly rediscovered his form. A return of 22 goals for his new side saw him make Italy's squad for the 1998 World Cup.

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Steve McManaman (Liverpool to Real Madrid, 1999)

McManaman was vilified on Merseyside when he opted to sign a pre-contract agreement with Real Madrid in early 1999. The decision proved to be a wise one, though. A haul of two Liga Liga titles and a pair of Champions League triumphs during his time at the Bernabeu more than justified McManaman's move.

Gary McAllister (Coventry to Liverpool, 2000)

Scottish international McAllister was 35 years of age when he made the switch to Anfield in 2000. Given the stage of his career that he was at, little was expected of the former Coventry man. McAllister proved all of the doubters wrong, however, playing a total of 49 games for Liverpool as they landed a historic FA Cup/League Cup/UEFA Cup treble in 2001.

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Sol Campbell (Tottenham to Arsenal, 2001)

This one was controversial. When Tottenham captain Campbell chose to cross the North London divide in 2001, Spurs fans were outraged (and still haven't forgotten to this day). From a silverware standpoint, the move was a massive success for Campbell. Part of the 2003/04 'invincibles' side, the England defender won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups under Arsene Wenger.

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Jay-Jay Okocha (PSG to Bolton, 2002)

Sam Allardyce pulled off a number of unlikely transfer coups during his time as Bolton manager. Names such as Fernando Hierro, Ivan Campo and Youri Djorkaeff all made their way to the Reebok Stadium having built fine reputations in Europe. The man that started that trend, though, was Okocha. The Nigerian entertainer helped Bolton secure a UEFA cup spot in 2005/06 and saw the club to the highest Premier League finish in their history.

Esteban Cambiasso (Real Madrid to Inter, 2004)

Cambiasso moved to Inter in 2004, having played just nine games for Real the previous season. His free transfer switch to Inter saw him get a great deal more playing time. Over the next decade, Cambiasso landed no less than 10 trophies with Inter, including a Champions League triumph in 2010.

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Raul (Real Madrid to Schalke, 2010)

Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at the Bernabeu in 2009 meant that Raul's time as the main man at Real Madrid was at an end. The Spanish legend departed for Schalke a year later, helping his new side into the Champions League semi-finals.

Andrea Pirlo (Milan to Juventus, 2011)

The second time Milan feature on this list for releasing a player they (wrongly) felt was past his best. Following a free transfer switch to Turin in 2011, Pirlo helped Juventus land four consecutive Serie A titles. He departed for the MLS in 2015 as a Juve club legend.

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ENTER GIVEAWAY

Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich to Lazio, 2011)

When Klose made his move to Lazio in 2011, he was 33 years old. Many felt that the German striker might be beyond the peak of his scoring powers. Klose quickly shut down that theory with his involvement in five Lazio goals on his debut. He departed the club in 2016 with 63 goals to his name. 

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Paul Pogba (Manchester United to Juventus, 2012)

Juventus pulled off a fantastic bit of business here. The Serie A giants brought Pogba in from United on a free transfer in 2012 - and then commanded a huge £89m fee when they sold him back to the Old Trafford club just four years later. The numbers involved alone mean that this deal deserves a spot on this countdown.

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Robert Lewandowski (Borussia Dortmund to Bayern Munich, 2014)

Since joining Bayern from Dortmund from absolutely nothing seven years ago, Lewandowski has bagged 294 goals in 329 games. His stunning goalscoring ratio has attracted interest in his services from around Europe. Even at 32, if the Polish striker does leave Bayern, it will surely be for a hefty transfer fee.

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