In the days of ever-increasing transfer revenues, seeing a leading club sign a player on a free transfer is becoming more and more rare.
Looking ahead to the end of the current campaign, one of the most prominent stars with an expiring contract looks to be Sofiane Feghouli.
The Valencia attacking midfielder has been at the Mestalla for five years now, but appears resolute in leaving the Spanish side for a new challenge this summer.
Los Che are not yet resigned to losing the Algeria international just yet and are said to be eager to keep the 25-year-old, but shrewd suitors would be wise to look at Feghouli before a scramble for his services begins in the new year.
The gifted playmaker, like many of his Algerian national team compatriots, was born in France and got his breakthrough in the game at modest outfit Grenoble.
It was arguably his performances for the French under-18 and 21 sides that added to his burgeoning reputation and propelled Feghouli into the widespread eye rather than his showings for the Stade des Alpes club.
With Valencia rumbled as a potential suitor in 2010, the African attacking midfielder allowed his contract to run down, much to the frustration of the French club, and moved to the Spanish side on a free transfer.
Fast forward five years and it appears that Nuno’s men are receiving a taste of their own medicine, with Feghouli digging his heels in and being reluctant to pen an extension with the La Liga outfit.
Over the last half-decade at the Mestalla, the playmaker has transformed himself from a youngster with potential into a regular starter for the Champions League participant.
A brief loan spell with Almería gave Feghouli a quick introduction to Spanish football, but he has been a virtual ever-present in the Valencia side since the 2011-12 campaign, starting the majority of the club’s fixtures.
Over the years the schemer has matured with the more football he receives, with his game noticeably improving on a season-by-season basis – even if he was quiet in his side’s 2-0 defeat to Zenit St Petersburg recently.
Delightful control on the ball, clever distribution and an eye for a killer pass make the Algerian a dangerous proponent in the Valencia side and an accomplished performer on the international scene.
Feghouli opted to turn his back on France and represent the African nation at senior level, with the illusive midfielder playing a considerable role in Algeria’s impressive 2014 World Cup showing.
Looking at his club options, it will be interesting to see if any big clubs come in for the African midfielder in the January transfer window, when he can sign a pre-contract deal. Valencia may well be convinced to sell him if he is only to leave for free six months later.
In honesty, playing regularly at Valencia and having an influence over the club’s fortunes would be a better option than featuring as a fringe figure elsewhere – as such the midfield star must decide his future carefully.
However, with the Algerian national team improving in recent years and Feghouli a key player in that progression, a move to one of Europe’s biggest teams may well be on the horizon for this sublime attacking midfielder.