Some of the most significant moves of the previous transfer window ended up being completed without a fee.
The biggest of them all, Lionel Messi's switch to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona, came after the Argentina international's contract ran out at the Camp Nou, while Gianluigi Donnarumma also ended up at the Parc des Princes on a free from AC Milan.
Georginio Wijnaldum, Sergio Ramos and Memphis Depay were among the other big names to change clubs without a transfer fee being involved.
Next summer could be even busier for the humble free transfer, with some of European football's biggest names soon to be without a club.
But who gets into our out-of-contract XI? Read on to find out...
Andre Onana: Ajax goalkeeper Onana is currently serving a nine-month ban after testing positive for banned substance Furosemide. Not the best sell, admittedly, but the 25-year-old was, until recently, rated as one of the best up-and-coming goalkeepers in European football.
The Cameroon international was the Dutch side's number one throughout their run to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals in 2019, and his performances have seen him linked with the likes of Chelsea and Manchester United. Worth a punt.
Notable mentions: Sam Johnstone, Sergio Asenjo, Hugo Lloris
Antonio Rudiger (CB): Under Thomas Tuchel, Rudiger has developed into one of Europe's best defenders - a far cry from when he was given the cold shoulder by Frank Lampard during the latter's time as Blues boss.
However, it appears the Germany international could be out of the door at Stamford Bridge soon, with Chelsea unwilling to match his salary demands. Real Madrid are among the clubs reportedly in pursuit, so keep an eye on how this one develops.
Niklas Sule (CB): Bayern have dominated the Bundesliga over the past nine years, and Sule has played a role in their last four titles. However, the 26-year-old seems to want a new challenge, just like David Alaba did last term.
Chelsea have been among the clubs eager to capture his services and, should Rudiger depart, Tuchel may want to bring in another compatriot to replace him.
Matthias Ginter (CB): Ginter completes our trio of soon-to-be out-of-contract central defenders. The 27-year-old is now a Bundesliga veteran, having featured for two of its most prominent clubs in Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Monchengladbach, while he also has 44 Germany caps to his name.
With plenty of years left in him, he could well be a bargain for several sides across the continent - although it wouldn't be a surprise to see Bayern swoop. They have form for pinching their rivals' star players when the opportunity arises.
Notable mentions: James Tarkowski, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta
Angel Di Maria (RM/RW): While the arrival of more star names at PSG has seen Di Maria fall slightly down the pecking order, he remains a part of Mauricio Pochettino's immediate plans, scoring twice and providing three assists in eight Ligue 1 matches.
Other than a relatively poor spell with Manchester United – even then, he created 12 goals in just 32 games for the Red Devils – he has been a hit wherever his game has taken him. Even as he approaches the end of his career, he remains an exceptional talent.
Paul Pogba (CM): Pogba's Manchester United future has been a cause for debate throughout the last few transfer windows. However, it seems his time at the club may finally be coming to an end.
Many believe the France international, who was part of Les Bleus' 2018 World Cup-winning squad, has failed to reach his potential at Old Trafford - a change of scenery could help him match expectations.
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Franck Kessie (CM): Over the past 18 months or so, AC Milan have started to look like the force they were at the start of the century, and Kessie has played a vital role in their rejuvenation. The Ivory Coast international has previously stated he wants to "stay forever" with the Italian outfit, but his failure to accept one of the club's several contract extension offers so far indicates otherwise.
Milan are currently joint-top of Serie A after going the opening 12 league games without defeat, so helping the Rossoneri win a first Italian title in 11 years could end up being the 24-year-old's parting gift.
Lorenzo Insigne (LM/LW): Insigne has become synonymous with Napoli, having spent his whole career to date at the Stadio San Paolo bar a couple of loan spells. After 114 goals in 411 games for the Gli Azzurri, the Euro 2020 champion may soon be off to pastures new.
Napoli are said to have offered the 30-year-old a new deal, although Insigne is believed to be dissatisfied with the offer. There is still plenty of time for things to change, but time is of the essence.
Paulo Dybala (AM): A lot has changed at Juventus over the past few months and, with a 14-point deficit to current Serie A leaders Napoli and AC Milan, a title challenge looks unlikely. However, Dybala has impressed under new boss Massimiliano Allegri, scoring six goals in 11 matches this term.
The 28-year-old has often threatened to become a superstar, but he has so far failed to make that leap for a number of reasons. It looks as though the Argentina international will reach an agreement with his current employers, but there remains no official announcement after months of talks.
Notable mentions: Marcelo Brozovic, Ousmane Dembele, Axel Witsel
Kylian Mbappe (ST): Along with Erling Braut Haaland, Mbappe is the most sought-after player in European football right now. The arrival of Messi at the Parc des Princes does not seem to have convinced the World Cup winner to stay put, but rather seek pastures new.
Real Madrid did all they could to sign the France international during the summer, and it feels like only a matter of time before he is unveiled at the Santiago Bernabeu. Given the 22-year-old can talk to other clubs as soon as January, expect this one to be announced soon.
Andrea Belotti (ST): For a player of his undoubted ability, it is surprising to see Belotti at a mid-table side at the age of 27. He recently netted his 100th goal in Serie A, and has scored at least 10 times in each league campaign since signing for Torino.
An owner of 42 Italy caps, the striker has already made it clear he wishes to leave the club in the summer. It is unclear where he could move to, but Tottenham and West Ham have previously been mentioned as potential suitors.News Now - Sport News