De Gea, Sakho, Lingard and the best former Premier League players that are currently free agents

Mamadou Sakho at Liverpool, David de Gea at Manchester United and Jesse Lingard at West Ham. TEAMtalk montage.

Former Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal players are among the highest-profile free agents currently without a club.

Free agents can be signed outside the restrictions of the transfer window and clubs could target them in an attempt to bolster their squads.

We’ve taken a look at 10 of the best former Premier League players who are currently available on a free transfer.

Note: we’ve only included players with at least 10 appearances in the English top-flight.

David de Gea

De Gea is the reigning Golden Glove holder, having kept 17 clean sheets in 38 Premier League appearances for Manchester United in 2022/23.

But Erik ten Hag decided against extending the goalkeeper’s contract at the end of last season, bringing his 12-year stint at Old Trafford to an end.

The Spain international has since been linked with Saudi Pro League sides Al-Nassr and Al-Ettifaq but reports suggest that he is not keen on a switch to the Gulf state due to family reasons.

Inter Miami – who are co-owned by United legend David Beckham – have reportedly offered him the chance to play in America with Lionel Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets.

The 33-year-old has also been linked with clubs in his native Spain, including Real Betis, Valencia and second-tier side Eldense.

But TEAMtalk can reveal that Newcastle United are considering a move for De Gea as they seek a replacement for the injured Nick Pope. 

Mamadou Sakho

Sakho had an eight-year stay in the Premier League, spending four of those at Liverpool before leaving the Reds to join Crystal Palace in 2017.

The 33-year-old centre-back completed a free transfer to Montpellier in 2021, but he was suspended by the club in October 2023 after he grabbed manager Michel Der Zakarian by the collar and knocked him to the floor during a training ground bust-up.

He has since left the Ligue 1 side and posted a statement on social media which read: “You have to know how to leave the table when respect is no longer served.

“Following the incident which took place last week at the training centre and for which I decline all responsibility, I decided… to end my collaboration with Montpellier.”

Jerome Boateng

Boateng had a brief spell at Manchester City in 2010/11 before enjoying 10 trophy-laden years at Bayern Munich, winning nine Bundesliga titles, two Champions Leagues, five DFB-Pokals, two UEFA Super Cups and two FIFA World Club Cups.

The former Germany international, who won 76 caps for his country, was also a key part of the 2014 World Cup-winning side.

He spent two years at Lyon but left the Ligue 1 side at the end of the 2022/23 season and has been training with Bayern Munich in recent weeks.

TEAMtalk revealed that he turned down a move to Everton in order to pursue a return to his former club. 

But Bayern ultimately opted against re-signing the 35-year-old, which could give Everton a second chance at securing his signature. He’s also been linked with Olympiacos, Roma and Heidenheim.

“I can see myself abroad, preferably from the second half of the season onwards,” Boateng told Kicker. “Italy, Spain, I’m open to all destinations.

“During training matches with Bayern, I noticed that I could always play at a high level. I’ll be able to help a lot more teams and will be motivated to continue increasing my trophy collection. That’s always been my goal: to win titles at every club.”

Everton linked free agent Jerome Boateng

Everton linked free agent Jerome Boateng

Shkodran Mustafi

Alongside Boateng, Mustafi also played for Germany in the 2014 World Cup and picked up a winner’s medal.

The centre-back joined Arsenal in a £35million deal in 2016 and made 151 appearances for the club, winning two FA Cups.

Since leaving the Emirates in January 2021, he has played for Schalke and Levante but is now available on a free transfer.

The 31-year-old has been linked with a return to Serie A side Sampdoria, who are in the market for a new centre-back after Alex Ferrari suffered a cruciate knee ligament injury.

Josh Onomah

A Tottenham academy graduate, Onomah made 32 appearances for the club before joining Fulham in 2019 as part of the deal that saw Ryan Sessegnon move in the opposite direction.

The midfielder spent three-and-a-half years at Craven Cottage, helping them win promotion to the Premier League on two occasions.

He joined Preston North End on a six-month deal in January 2023 but left at the end of the campaign due to contract complications.

Despite training with Stoke City in the summer and appearing for the club in multiple pre-season friendlies, a deal failed to materialise and the 26-year-old remains a free agent.

Matty Longstaff

The youngest player on this list, Longstaff came through the ranks at Newcastle and scored against Manchester United on his Premier League debut.

But he made just 12 more appearances in the top-flight before going on loan to Aberdeen, Mansfield Town and Colchester United.

The 23-year-old midfielder – who is the younger brother of Sean Longstaff – was released at the end of the 2022/23 season and is currently recovering from an anterior cruciate ligament injury.

“Things are going really well at the moment. I’ve been back out on the grass in these last two weeks,” he told SportBible in October.

“Hopefully, I’ll be fully fit in January. The last couple of months especially have been really positive. I’m in a good frame of mind. If everything goes to plan, I’m hoping to be back in January or February time.”

Yann M’Vila

M’Vila spent the 2015/16 season on loan at Sunderland and established himself as a fans’ favourite at the Stadium of Light.

The 33-year-old midfielder left Olympiacos at the end of the 2022/23 season and has been exploring his options ever since.

“Now, I want a challenge, I’m motivated by that, and I’m ready to put in a lot more than what people might think to experience that,” he told Goal in the summer.

“When I go to a club, I give everything for that club. I may not have always been good, but I’ve never cheated.”

He’s recently been linked with a return to Sunderland but RMC Sport claim that Atlético Madrid, West Brom, Le Havre and Istanbul Basaksehir are keen on signing the France international.

Jesse Lingard

A Manchester United academy graduate, Lingard made 232 appearances for his boyhood club and helped them win the Europa League, the FA Cup and the League Cup.

He joined Nottingham Forest on a one-year contract in the summer of 2022 but failed to impress during his short stay at the City Ground.

“I’m considering all options,” he told Sky Sports after leaving Forest. “I’ve never ruled out any team or club out, so for me it’s just picking the right team and it’s got to be right for me.

“I just want to play football at the end of the day and that’s all I want to do. Obviously the project has got to be well suited for me, the team’s got to be moving in the right direction but just regular game-time – I’m still hungry.”

The 30-year-old trained with former club West Ham United before heading to Saudi Arabian outfit Al-Ettifaq on a month-long trial.

He scored in a friendly appearance for Steven Gerrard’s side but wasn’t offered a contract as they reportedly do not have enough space in their budget to afford his salary.

Anwar El Ghazi 

El Ghazi helped Aston Villa win promotion to the Premier League in 2018/19, scoring in their Championship Play-off final victory over Derby County.

He then registered 15 goals and five assists for Villa in the top-flight and also had a brief loan spell at Everton in 2021/22.

The 28-year-old joined PSV Eindhoven in 2022 and netted nine goals in 33 appearances for the club before his contract was terminated by mutual consent in September 2023.

He then joined Mainz on a two-year deal but made just three appearances for the Bundesliga side and had his contract terminated for a social media post about the Israel-Gaza conflict.

According to Fabrizio Romano, a Premier League club approached the winger before his move to Mainz and there is also interest from Saudi Arabia.

Hatem Ben Arfa

A Newcastle United cult hero, Ben Arfa terrorised defenders and scored some stunning goals during a four-and-a-half-year stint at St James Park.

But the mercurial winger failed to live up to his enormous potential and was released by the club in January 2015 after a loan spell at Hull City.

He then had stints at Nice, Paris Saint-Germain, Rennes, Real Valladolid, Bordeaux and Lille but has been without a club since leaving the latter at the end of the 2021/22 season.

While he’s yet to retire from football, the 36-year-old has taken up a new sport and is currently playing padel tennis in his native France.

Other honourable mentions: Phil Jones, Danny Rose, Ryan Bertrand, Steven Caulker, Helder Costa, Jese, Jose Izquierdo, Jozy Altidore, Connor Wickham.

READ MORE: The 10 most expensive Premier League transfers of all time, featuring three Man Utd signings and Liverpool striker