I have previously written an article about the five best available free agents (here). That list contains the likes of Chelsea forward Willian and Manchester City forward David Silva, but for many teams, especially those fighting for promotion or those, like Leeds United, who have just earned promotion, younger players are key. In this article, I will take a look at the best available young free agents – and what clubs should be looking at them.
Recommended Clubs: Leeds United, West Brom, VfB Stuttgart
Manchester United surprisingly allowed Angel Gomes’ contract to expire this summer, especially considering that the team is trying to build off youth and Gomes is arguably United’s best youngster. Gomes is now a free agent and was linked strongly to Chelsea, but that doesn’t appear likely as Gomes wants significant playing time at his next club. Enter Leeds United, who have just earned promotion back to the Premier League for the first time in 16 years. Gomes would be a talented, high-profile signing that would signal to other Premier League teams that Leeds United are for real. Gomes also adds attacking options, as Leeds were looking a little weak offensively after Arsenal ended forward Eddie Nketiah’s loan in January. This could also apply for whoever earns automatic promotion, whether it’s West Brom or Brentford. It now increasingly looks like West Brom after Brentford managed to lose 1-0 to Stoke City.
Another option might be VfB Stuttgart. Gomes has been linked to German clubs like Borussia Dortmund but at Dortmund, Gomes probably would not get the playing time he wants. Stuttgart have already loaned in Premier League youngsters like Arsenal defender Konstantinos Mavropanos, and young English players have had success in the Bundesliga (just ask Jadon Sancho).
Apparently, Turkish club Besiktas are also after Gomes’ services, as Turkey’s elite are scrambling to find high-profile players to help them compete against Istanbul Basaksehir, who have won their first ever Turkish league title. It’s not expected that to happen, but you never know.
Recommended Clubs: AS Roma, Schalke 04, Juventus
Malang Sarr is one of the most hyped young free agents in the world. Despite being just 21-years old, Sarr has played 119 games for first tier French club OGC Nice, including three Champions League qualifiers and seven Europa League games. Sarr has also been capped 42 times at youth level for the French national team, and was linked to Arsenal following the expiration of his contract. However, Sarr has been most strongly linked to Serie A clubs such as Torino, Atalanta, Fiorentina and Inter Milan.
A move to Italy might be best for Sarr, but Roma and Juventus should both look at the Frenchmen. Chris Smalling’s loan in the Italian capital is ending and Sarr would be a good replacement since Manchester United want too much money for Smalling. Roma are also looking to move on from two center defenders in Juan Jesus and Federico Fazio, and Sarr would help lock down Roma’s defense. Juventus also could use Sarr in defense, because with the exception of Merih Demiral and Matthijs De Ligt, Juventus lack youth in center defense.
Schalke 04 might be the best option. They’re losing defender Jean-Clair Todibo, who was on loan to the club from FC Barcelona. Ozan Kabak is young and has shown flashes of talent but has missed several games due to injury. Schalke slumped and finished 12th with a -20 goal differential. Sarr would get plenty of playing time and could help restore Schake’s glory days.
Recommended Clubs: Benevento, Arminia Bielefeld, Cadiz CF
All three of these teams have recently been promoted to first tier leagues. Benevento are an ambitious Italian club that have taken the Italian Serie B by storm, winning the league handily. Benevento have been looking at many veterans, like Monaco defender Kamil Glik but have mainly looked at attacking options. Abdul Mumin is a perfect fit for Benevento, as he’s a young but proven defender.
Mumin is an underdog, who came through Ghana’s Right To Dream program before earning a move to Danish club Nordsjaelland, who have supported the program heavily. He now appears set for bigger things, like German club Arminia Bielefeld, who surprisingly won the Bundesliga 2. Mumin would be a great transfer, as Bielefeld could use some youth in their defense and the young Ghanian defender’s value could increase drastically after a season in the Bundesliga.
Cadiz have also surprisingly earned promotion from La Liga 2 to La Liga. El Submarino Amarillos (the yellow submarines, just like Villarreal) haven’t been in La Liga since the 2005/06 season, and Mumin, who has played 29 games for Nordsjaelland this season, has the perfect blend of experience and youth to keep Cadiz in La Liga.
Recommended Clubs: Toulouse, Paris FC, AS Saint-Étienne
The son of French legend and Real Madrid coach, Zinedine Zidane, Luca has just had his Real Madrid contract expire and has been linked to a return to his native France. That would be a good career move for Luca, and several teams could be good suitors.
Toulouse originally won a court case to allow Toulouse to stay in the French Ligue 1, but that was overturned and Toulouse have been relegated to Ligue 2. The team have been bought by American firm RedBird Capital, but funds will still be limited. Luca Zidane would fix Toulouse’s issues in goal and allow transfer funds to be spent on attacking options.
Paris FC (not PSG) were only two points above the relegation zone from Ligue 2 to France’s third tier. Paris FC do have some solid young backups like 22-year old Anthony Maisonnial, but the current starting goalkeeper is 37-year old Vincent Demarconnay. Luca Zidane would add some desperately added youth to the squad while allowing Paris FC to focus on other areas of the squad and allow Paris FC to avoid relegation and even maybe come close to promotion.
AS Saint-Étienne are a hugely improved squad, mainly because of Adil Aouchiche. Aouchiche is a PSG youth player who left on a free transfer this season and surprisingly joined struggling Ligue 1 team AS Saint-Étienne, who finished three points above a relegation spot. Saint-Étienne have several aging, struggling goalkeepers, and Stephane Ruffier has been linked to Turkish club Galatasaray amid conflict with manager Claude Puel. If Luca Zidane were to join AS Saint-Étienne, they could be a Europa League-quality team within a few seasons.
Keep in mind, these are teams that should sign these players, not teams that are planning on signing them. Do you agree? And remember to vote here for Ballon D’Or winner!
Image courtesy of Kane Brooker / CC BY.
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