The main transfer windows may be closed for the summer but that doesn’t mean the stories have stopped.
We’re already getting reports of moves ahead of the January transfer window and even next summer, while there have also been a few high-profile retirements. Gonzalo Higuain has announced his impending retirement at the end of the MLS season, while Chelsea’s 2012 Champions League winners Ramires and John Obi Mikel have also called time on their careers.
But that’s not all. There are also players still moving clubs, from both free agency and other teams, heading mainly towards the likes of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates whose registration periods stayed open until October.
And while some of the destinations may be obscure, big names have made moves over the past couple of weeks, and could bring new eyes to different leagues. We’ve taken a look at the best eight below.
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From: Free agent
We’ll start with the most recent move, Josip Ilicic was a big part of Atalanta’s side as they climbed up Italian football and became regulars in the top four battle and European competitions. But the Slovenian has struggled in recent years due to off-field problems and he left Atalanta in the summer, with his contract terminated by mutual consent.
3, 2, 1… Jojo, dobrodošel doma!
Pogodba do 2025, dres s št. 72. Uradna predstavitev danes ob 17. uri na osrednjem prireditvenem prostoru v nakupovalnem središču Europark.
— NK Maribor (@nkmaribor) October 5, 2022
After a couple of months without a club, Ilicic will return to action in his native Sloveia with Maribor – for whom he made 11 appearances in a previous spell. Obviously not an obscure club, Maribor have appeared in the Champions League but are not in European competition this season, knocked out of all three before the group stage.
To: Al Nasr
Adel Taarabt was once a star in English football with QPR his career stagnated after loan moves to Fulham and AC Milan, eventually leaving for Benfica in 2015. The Moroccan had a similar struggle at Benfica and was even demoted to the B team but soon reinvented himself as a deeper midfielder and started to thrive, being the calm figure in an exciting attacking team.
رحبوا معنا 👋
بالنجم المغربي"عادل تاعرابت" ، أهلاً بك في قلعة العميد 💙
Let's Welcome Our New Player ADEL TAARABT 🇲🇦 🤝 pic.twitter.com/EgEPecSb9S
— AL NASR SC (@ALNasrSC) September 24, 2022
But last season he played a more peripheral role, amassing just 858 minutes across 23 league appearances with nine starts. Taarabt has now moved on from Benfica, joining UAE Pro League side Al Nasr and has already made his debut, starting in the 2-1 defeat to Al-Wasl. The 33-year-old will no doubt be hoping increased game time will help his case in playing for Morocco at this winter’s World Cup.
From: Free agent
If you don’t remember the name, you’ll definitely remember the goal. Pajtim Kasami scored one of the best Premier League goals at least this century for Fulham against Crystal Palace in October 2013 which saw him nominated for the Puskas Award. But that goal was the peak of Kasami’s Premier League career and he left for Olympiacos at the end of the 2013/14 season.
— Olympiacos FC (47🏆) (@olympiacosfc) September 30, 2022
Kasami later returned to England with Nottingham Forest on loan and then signed for Sion and Basel, before rejoining Olympiacos at the end of September.
To: Shabab Al Ahli
Jason Denayer had an excellent spell at Lyon after joining permanently from Manchester City in 2018, helping them to a third-placed finish in his first season while also reaching the last 16 of the Champions League – taking four points off the Citizens in the group stage. Lyon and Denayer grew the following season as they reached the semi-finals of the Europa League, again beating Man City but that would be the peak.
— نادي شباب الأهلي (@Shabab_AlAhliFC) September 28, 2022
In 2020/21 Lyon missed out on the top three in Ligue 1 and last season Denayer played just 15 times in the league, suffering injury and then struggling to recover his spot in the first team. With the World Cup on the horizon, Denayer has moved to UAE side Shabab Al Ahli (managed by Leonardo Jardim), recent making his debut in 3-2 defeat to Al-Dhafra.
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From: Free agent
To: SK Beveren
Across two loan spells with Norwich City and Hull City, Dieumerci Mbokani made 41 appearances in the Premier League and scored seven goals – with all of those strikes coming at the Canaries. Mbokani has been most at home in Belgium’s Jupiler Pro League but spent last season in the Kuwaiti Premier League with Kuwait SC.
He is now back in Belgium, however, joining SK Beveren after leaving Kuwait in the summer.
— SK Beveren (@SKBeveren) September 26, 2022
There was a time when Kostas Manolas was regarded as one of the best centre-backs in Europe, proving tough for Serie A attackers to beat while at Roma and Napoli. He first moved to Italy from Olympiacos and returned to the Greek side in January of this year, having fallen out of favour at Napoli and struggling with injury.
But Manolas’ stay in Greece hasn’t lasted long. Despite playing eight times for Olympiacos across all competitions this season, Manolas was sold to UAE Pro League club Sharjah at the end of September. The Greek centre-back has already made his debut, starting in the 3-0 win over Khor Fakkan and getting booked.
He also got a little scared while posing with a lion as part of his announcement. We don’t blame him at all.
UAE club Sharjah introduced new signing Kostas Manolas as a "Greek warrior" and part of his presentation theme included posing alongside an actual lion…not for the faint hearted. pic.twitter.com/67GUPRHIyv
— Colin Millar (@Millar_Colin) September 28, 2022
From: Free agent
Bakary Sako spent four years in English football for Wolves, Crystal Palace and West Brom, enjoying two spells with the Eagles. His second spell at Selhurst Park was very brief, just six months, and he was let go at the end of his contract, eventually joining Cypriot side Pafos.
Sako then spent 18 months without a club, ending his exile with Saint-Etienne, and he is now in the Greek Super League joining new boys Levadiakos.
From: Free agent
Joining Saka at Levadiakos is a man who made 93 appearances for Leeds United while they were in the Championship between 2014 and 2017, initially joining on loan from Catania.
After leaving Leeds in 2017, Doukara spent a lot of his time in Turkey representing Osmanlispor, Antalyaspor and Giresunspor with a spell at Saudi side Ettifaq in between. But he is now back in Europe, alongside Saka, trying to keep Levadiakos in the Greek top flight.