Top Five: Premier League free transfers

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With last season’s Premier League campaign now a distant memory, those focused firmly on life domestically will be considering their team’s transfer options for the 2012/13 campaign.

Whilst the European Championships takes centre stage for three weeks from June 8th, the summer transfer window will be all that managers in the Premier and Football League care about.

It’s not just big-name signings that could make a difference though, with plenty of players available for free after release from their clubs. Didier Drogba and Michael Owen are two players available this summer, whilst Ledley King also looks likely to be a free agent.

And, to prove how lucrative a free transfer move can be for clubs, GMF picks five of the most successful moves in the Premier League era…

Demba Ba – Newcastle United

A clause in the Senagelese striker’s contract meant that if West Ham United were relegated, he’d be able to leave on a free despite joining in January for an undisclosed fee.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew subsequently sensed an opportunity, brining the player to St. James’ Park in a three-year deal.

Goals followed, with Ba notching 16 goals in 34 league appearances, setting the top flight alight in the early months of the season as the Magpies reached the Europa League.

Gus Poyet – Chelsea

After seven years at Real Zaragoza, the Uruguayan international moved to Stamford Bridge in 1997, going on to become a club idol during his four-year stay in west London.

Poyet won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup in 1998, and was also part of the FA Cup winning team in 2000 as Chelsea developed a certain swagger about their style of play on the King’s Road.

He left for Tottenham Hotspur in 2001, sold for a tidy £2.2 million profit.

Jay-Jay Okocha – Bolton Wanderers

Sam Allardyce produced a transfer masterpiece in 2002, luring the Nigerian legend to the Reebok Stadium after his exit from Paris-Saint Germain.

Okocha went on to become an icon at Bolton, the pin-up in an era when ‘Big Sam’ brought the likes of Youri Djorkaeff and Ivan Campo to Lancashire.

The 38-year-old took the armband in his final years with the club, and produced goals, skill, passes and dances to remember throughout his stay.

Sol Campbell – Arsenal

The most high-profile free transfer move in English football history, with Campbell leaving Tottenham Hotspur to join north London rivals Arsenal in the summer of 2001.

With a view to playing Champions League football, the move proved fruitful for the centre back, who even scored in a final against Barcelona at Europe’s top table before tasting defeat against the Spanish giants.

A look in the trophy cabinet will tell Campbell that he made the right decision to join the Gunners, with two Premier League and three FA Cup trophies to look at following his retirement last month.

Brad Friedel – Tottenham Hotspur

When Friedel’s contract at Aston Villa wasn’t renewed last summer, you’d be forgiven for thinking that the American might be calling time on his career.

However, the 41-year-old signed a contract at White Hart Lane, and went on to propel Harry Redknapp’s side on a title charge last season. They eventually finished fourth.

Showing great form throughout the campaign, Friedel is expected to be No.1 at White Hart Lane again next season, proving excellent value for no money!

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