The best things in life are free.
Of course, that’s a complete lie. Try and leave the Rolex store with a free watch and you’ll find yourself locked up.
But, thanks to a man called Jean-Marc Bosman, it’s possible to get your hands on a talented footballer for absolutely nothing.
You do of have to pay a weighty signing-on fee, wages and make sure the agent is taken care of which, if you’re dealing with Mino Raiola, can end up exceeding most small countries’ GDP.
That’s just the small print though. That all comes out in the wash.
But spare a thought for Bundesliga side Schalke. Down the years they’ve consistently lost their best players for nada.
If your club is responsible for stealing any of these lot on the cheap then you probably owe Schalke a couple of quid next time you visit.
Max Meyer (TBC)
Schalke have confirmed that academy graduate Meyer will leave for nothing in the summer, with ITK Twitter accounts seeming to indicate a move to Arsenal, which almost definitely won’t happen.
As a 22-year-old German international who’s been playing in the Bundesliga since the age of 17 there’s going to be no shortage of takers.
Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich)
Bayern are really struggling in the Bundesliga, so it’s lucky they managed to convince midfielder Goretzka to jump ship.
The 23-year-old has already scored six times in 14 appearances for Germany so you can expect to see plenty of him at the 2018 World Cup.
Sead Kolasinac (Arsenal)
You couldn’t move for Arsenal fans telling you they’d just signed the Bundesliga’s best left-back last June.
It hasn’t quite worked out that way, although playing alongside Shkodran Mustafi can do that to any defender.
Klaas-Jan Huntelaar (Ajax)
In fairness to Schalke, Huntelaar’s last season at the club saw him score twice in 16 Bundesliga outings. Hardly form worthy of a new contract.
He’s since scored 13 times in 16 appearances for Ajax. If only they’d consulted Captain Hindsight.
Joel Matip (Liverpool)
Matip followed in the footsteps of Kolo Toure, Alex Manninger, Doni and Milan Jovanovic when he joined Liverpool for free in February 2016.
The best thing he’s done at Liverpool was a walk. Take that as you will.
Christian Fuchs (Leicester)
It’s at this point we’re contractually obliged to remind you that Fuchs has more Premier League medals than Steven Gerrard.
He also played a no-look pass to Jamie Vardy, who proceeded to break the Premier League record for consecutive goals. Money well spent, kind of.
Kevin Kuranyi (Dynamo Moscow)
Seventy-one league goals in five seasons means Kuranyi is currently Schalke’s fifth-highest goalscorer.
That didn’t make it any easier when he hotfooted it to Moscow in 2010.
Hamit Altintop (Bayern Munich)
Altintop had forgettable spells at Bayern and Real Madrid after leaving Schalke in 2007.
But there was nothing forgettable about this thunderbastard against the mighty Kazakhstan in 2010.
Christian Poulsen (Sevilla)
Poulsen’s free transfer to Sevilla in 2006 means he’s obviously got a UEFA Cup medal in his trophy cabinet.
But the Dane somehow managed to spend two years at Juventus without winning anything.
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