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Sevilla's Isco Alarcon during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Sevilla and Rayo Vallecano at the Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium in Sevilla, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022.

Five free agents with Champions League experience available right now

The January transfer window has concluded and we’re now at the stage where clubs have to get creative if they’re to make improvements to their squads.

Nervous chairmen might be feeling they could have done a little more during the mid-season winter (are you reading, Farhad Moshiri?) but their options aren’t entirely exhausted. There are still a few free agents available.

We’ve earmarked five players that have played at the Champions League level that are currently available for no fee whatsoever.

Isco

“Isco is a great boy and I wish him the best. He leaves a player who has great capacity, but he did not meet the club’s expectations,” explained Sevilla boss Jorge Sampaoli after the decision was made to terminate Isco’s contract in November.

The Spanish playmaker left the Bernabeu at the end of his contract last summer but failed to reignite his career in Seville. He was reportedly close to joining Union Berlin last week but the salary negotiations proved too big an obstacle.

Not only does Isco have Champions League experience, but he started – and starred – in the 2017 and 2018 finals as Real Madrid triumphantly dispatched Juventus and Liverpool.

It seems a long time ago that Isco was among the European elite but he’s still only 30 years old. We’d love to see him at a club that gives him the tools to find that old magic.

Sime Vrsaljko

The right-back made over 100 appearances for Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid before departing the Spanish capital when his contract expired at the end of the 2021-22 season.

Vrsaljko, who started for Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final, went on to represent Olympiakos under highly-rated young coach Carlos Corberan. But neither the player nor manager lasted long in Athens and Vrsaljko now finds himself a free agent again after terminating his contract by mutual consent in November.

Artem Dzyuba

Experienced striker Dzyuba scored 30 goals in 55 appearances for Russia and 108 goals in 249 appearances for Zenit Saint Petersburg.

He left the club last summer, having played a key role in a fourth successive Russian Premier League title. The 34-year-old since joined Turkish outfit Adana Demirspor but left after only a few months.

“It would not be right for me to sit and watch a match. I still have big ambitions. I want to have fun. I enjoy it and I love attending matches,” Dzyuba explained in a video message.

“Anyway, Turkey was an interesting experience, it was a great atmosphere. I absolutely loved being there, it was a plus for me. This road taught me a lot in terms of people and football. I enjoyed not only the games but also the training. Now I will listen to the offers and continue to play football.”

Three months later he’s evidently still waiting for the right offer.

Eliaquim Mangala

The French defender struggled to live up to his lofty price tag at Manchester City and has since gone on to play for Valencia and Saint-Etienne.

He picked up nine bookings in 14 appearances and was suspended for three matches last term as Saint-Etienne suffered relegation to Ligue 2.

We’re not making a great case for him, are we? Desperate times call for desperature measures, sometimes.

Jese

…And really desperate times call for really desperate measures.

Once a highly-rated wonderkid from Real Madrid’s fabled Cantera, Jese broke through to score 18 goals in 94 appearances for Los Blancos.

He then spent four years on PSG’s books, albeit perenially out on loan, and was most recently seen turning out in the Turkish Super Lig (of course) for Ankaragucu. He left in January alongside Federico Macheda.

Given his off-pitch exploits, we’d love to see the ensuing chaos if an ailing relegation-battler took a desperate punt on his services. Someone please make it happen – Everton, we’re looking at you…


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