• Top Tens: Bosman transfers

Top Tens: Bosman transfers

Tom Walker
July 23, 2010
Joe Cole will play in Liverpool red next term © Getty Images

This week saw Liverpool make a major coup in signing Joe Cole from Chelsea on a free, so we at ESPN.co.uk have dusted down the history books to give you ten of the best ever Bosman signings.

Sol Campbell
Campbell's move across London to fierce rivals Arsenal was arguably the most controversial Bosman transfer ever seen in the Premier League. If you were to ask Tottenham fans to sum up their feelings on the matter, Campbell's decision would still rankle beyond compare. Having departed White Hart Lane in 2001, Campbell made an instant impact at Arsenal as the Gunners won the double in his first season. He then went on to form the backbone of the 'untouchables' - an Arsenal side that went through the entire 2003/04 Premier League season unbeaten. At 35, Campbell has returned to his beloved club but it remains to be seen if this chapter of his career is anywhere near as successful.

Michael Ballack
Ballack shunned interest from Manchester United to sign for Chelsea in May 2006. He arrived at Stamford Bridge with much expected of him after starring both for Bayer Leverkusen and Bayern Munich. The then Germany captain also joined the Jose Mourinho revolution with an outstanding international reputation, but his first few months in England proved to be far more difficult than he would have hoped. Blighted by injuries, Ballack fell out of favour and a lack of form did not help matters. But the German had the last laugh and proved his critics wrong by slowly becoming a regular in the first XI. A Premier League title, three FA Cups, one League Cup and a Champions League final place later, Ballack returns to Bayer Leverkusen on the back of a job well done.

Jay Jay Okocha
After the 2002 World Cup, Sam Allardyce captured the signature of Okocha from Paris-Saint Germain on a free transfer. And despite a host of injuries, he proved an instant hit with the Bolton fans. "So good they named him twice", the Nigerian international illuminated the Reebok Stadium with majestic skill and poise, scoring seven goals to help steer Wanderers away from relegation. Never shy to have a crack from anywhere he left supporters on the edge of their seats, and having racked up over 100 appearances for the club, he left Bolton a legend.

Mark Schwarzer has performed heroics for Fulham © Getty Images

Paul Lambert
Lambert became the first Scot to take advantage of the Bosman ruling when he shocked many by signing for Borussia Dortmund. The surreal nature of the move was exacerbated as he lined up alongside the likes of Andreas Moller, Matthias Sammer and Jurgen Kohler. Things got even more dreamlike when Lambert played a key role in Borussia Dortmund's Champions League triumph in 1997, where he kept Juventus' Zinedine Zidane quiet all game.

Following his departure from West Brom, Kanu was a free agent and he was snapped up by Portsmouth on a one-year deal before the 2007/08 season. He made his debut for Pompey as a substitute against Blackburn Rovers on the opening day of the season, scoring twice and missing a penalty to immediately win the hearts of the Portsmouth fans. He is mostly remembered for scoring the goal that won Portsmouth the FA Cup in 2008 and their first major trophy for nearly 60 years.

Mark Schwarzer
Schwarzer made the tough decision to leave Middlesbrough in 2008 after spending 11 years at the club. It didn't take long for a host of clubs to move for the Australian keeper, with Roy Hodgson winning the race for his signature. He quickly became a key player at Craven Cottage and somehow managed to play every minute of the 2008/09 Premier League season for Fulham. He was named the Fulham Player of the Year in his first season but perhaps his finest memory will be of helping the club reach the Europa League final in 2010.

Michael Owen has justified Sir Alex Ferguson's gamble © Getty Images

Gary McAllister
Gerard Houllier took a huge risk when he signed 35-year-old McAllister in 2000. But his gamble was vindicated as the experienced midfielder played an integral role in the treble winning Liverpool team in 2001. A run of goals in the latter half of the season, including a penalty in the Uefa Cup final, made the Scot a cult hero and 'The Enforcer' was at the heart of Liverpool's midfield. The standing ovation he received in his final match for the club emphasised how highly regarded he was by the Anfield faithful.

Michael Owen
Admittedly we have seen more of Michael Owen following proceedings at the horse racing than we have of him donning the Manchester United kit. But following his bolt-from-the-blue move to Old Trafford, the former Liverpool striker has already warranted Sir Alex Ferguson bringing him in. Against local rivals Manchester City, Owen replaced Dimitar Berbatov and netted the winner in the sixth minute of stoppage time to seal a dramatic last-gasp victory for his new club.

Lee Bowyer
Bowyer may not feature in many people's top ten Bosman lists but he deservedly take his place in ours. Following disappointing spells at Newcastle and West Ham, the controversial midfielder appeared to be heading into early retirement. However, Alex McLeish brought him out of the wilderness and a successful loan spell turned into a permanent contract. McLeish's Birmingham finished ninth last season and Bowyer was a towering figure in the midfield, making valuable contributions throughout the campaign.

Steve McManaman
After a sparkling career at Liverpool, McManaman headed for Spain to join Real Madrid. Arguably, his finest hour as a player came at the 2000 Champions League final at the Stade de France in Paris. He scored a scintillating volley in the 3-0 thumping of Valencia, which saw him become the first English player to win Europe's premier club competition with a foreign club.

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