It's often said that the January transfer window is a tricky time to do business - mid-season moves often involve inflated fees and rushed, ill-thought out purchases. Andy Carroll a case in point.
But if clubs are prepared to wait until the summer there's some bargains to be had. These 11 players are out of contract at the end of the season, and were free to sign pre-contract deals with foreign clubs as of 00:00 on January 1.
From Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard at Chelsea to Rio Ferdinand and Paul Scholes at Manchester United, teams across Europe's big leagues will be poised to strike a bargain, hopeful of landing one of these big names for absolutely nothing come the end of the season.
Check out 11 of the best players currently available for free at the end of the current campaign...
Mark Schwarzer - Goalkeeper
The Fulham shot-stopper is edging towards retirement, but he remains one of the most consistent keepers in the Premier League.
The 40-year-old would be a great addition to most teams, and Fulham may yet decide to offer him another short-term deal. Whether he settles into a back-up role like Brad Friedel at Spurs, or continues to wear the number one jersey, Schwazer is a player that would improve most squads.
William Gallas - Centre back
The Spurs centre-back may just be edged out at White Hart Lane come the end of the season, with the emergence of Steven Caulker and the impressive recent performances of Jan Vertonghen and Michael Dawson. But the France international still has the ability, even if his pace is slowing, to command a starting place at most top-flight club.
Rio Ferdinand - Centre back
The Daily Mail report Ferdinand is out of contract at the end of the season. And as Jonny Evans was handed a new United deal last month, that could spell the end for Ferdinand at Old Trafford. Still a classy performer, he would be hugely in-demand if United decide not to renew his contract.
Kolo Toure - Centre back
The Manchester City star has flitted in and out of the team, but it goes without saying that he's far from first choice at the Etihad Stadium. A move away beckons, and there's sure to be more than enough suitors.
Danny Simpson - Right wing back
The Newcastle right-back played every minute of every game for the Magpies last term, but the imminent arrival of France international Mathieu Debachy, according to reports, could shepherd Simpson out of the exit door. A solid, dependable defender who would make a good addition to most Premier League squads.
Ashley Cole - Left wing back
Barely a week passes without another report linking Cole with a Chelsea exit. Paris St-Germain, Manchester United and Real Madrid were reportedly interested at various points, and the England international could still join one of these top European clubs. After all, he remains one of the best left-backs in the world.
Paul Scholes - Centre midfield
The Manchester United legend is extremely unlikely to leave Old Trafford for another club - retirement is a more likely option when his short-term deal expires at the end of this season. The only club that could tempt him for a sojourn away from United - how about Oldham Athletic - the club he watched on the terraces as a boy.
Ryan Giggs - Centre midfield
Like Scholes, the Manchester United winger is unlikely to swap Old Trafford for anywhere else. But he is out of contract - Premier League clubs it's up to you to convince him...
Frank Lampard - Centre midfield
The 34-year-old doesn't look like he'll be getting a new Chelsea contract, ending an 11-year plus association with the Stamford Bridge club. He's a legend in west London, but he'd be in demand if he did decide to move on. Queens Park Rangers, LA Galaxy, Inter Milan and a number of Chinese teams have been linked.
Theo Walcott - Forward
The Gunners winger could still sign a new contract, but now we're into January, Walcott is free to discuss terms with foreign clubs. He may stay, but if he decides to go, they'd be no shortage of suitors for one of the most direct attackers in world football.
Andrey Arshavin - Forward
The little Russian has gone off the boil at Arsenal, but it wasn't so long ago that the likes of Barcelona were interested in Arshavin. Now 31-years-old, a chance to move to another top club has probably passed. Reading is the most likely destination for the wide-man, but he could always return to the homeland if he doesn't sign a new deal.
Who would you like your club to sign on a free transfer? And, if you're a fan of one of the clubs whose players could leave at the end of the season, do you think your team should offer them a new contract - Frank Lampard at Chelsea and Ryan Giggs at United for example?
Join the debate by leaving a comment below...
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