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In the NBA, free agency is one of the most popular concepts that teams and fans alike anticipate as they strive to make their rosters stronger. Free agency is a term used to explain the period when basketball players are no longer under contract and are free to sign with any other franchise in the NBA or any other overseas. After an NBA season has concluded, a player enters free agency after the expiration of their contract with another franchise. Essentially, free agency grants players freedom and power to make decisions regarding their futures. In addition, when players are nearing the end of their contracts, they can sign new contracts with new terms offered by their current franchise or pass up the contract proposal if the terms are unsatisfactory. Most star players opt to enter free agency and explore their options in the market.
In football, footballers often become free agents after being released by their clubs and when there are no interested suitors to offer them contracts. Most times, star players do not enjoy the luxury of becoming free agents as they negotiate their way into new contracts and new terms. However, this situation is changing. For the first time in football history, there are a plethora of footballers who have turned down the option of signing new contracts; instead have opted to become free agents and decide their future.
The free agency class of 2022 in European football consists of players such as Paul Pogba, Paolo Dybala, Antonio Rüdiger, Andreas Christensen, Ousmane Dembélé, and Franck Kessié, among others. Rüdiger has already agreed to terms with Real Madrid, Christensen and Kessié are Barcelona bound, while Dembélé, Pogba, and Dybala are all exiting their current clubs and exploring their options as they prepare for the 2022/23 season. Kylian Mbappe almost joined Real Madrid as a free agent before re-signing with Paris Saint Germain after offering him a contract worth 50m a year.
These, among other players in the prime of their careers, played for some of Europe’s biggest clubs and are not old has-beens being cast into the unknown. The players will have options, and most are putting their current clubs under pressure to pay up. This newfound player power is a new era in football, where players in their prime opt to retain as maximum power possible when dictating their futures. Clubs can no longer coerce players to sign contracts they feel undervalued and would prefer to become free agents and negotiate their way to better contracts.
Other players who have turned down contracts and chosen to become free agents are Alessio Romagnoli of AC Millan, Andrea Belotti of Torino, Sergi Roberto of Barcelona, and Ivan Perisic Internazionale. Eddie Nketiah and Alexander Lacazette of Arsenal, Niklas Sule of Bayern Munich, Federico Bernardeschi of Juventus, and Isco of Real Madrid are others in the free agency class of 2022.
Previously, free agents were usually players on the wrong side of 30 like Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Manchester United, Andrea Pirlo to Juventus, Dani Alves to Juventus, and PSG. The tides have turned, and players in their prime have chosen to decide their futures and explore available alternatives during free agency. This new era in football will indeed disrupt the world of football.