What felt like a particularly protracted summer transfer window finally drew to a close last week, with David Luiz's surprise return from Paris Saint-Germain to Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur scrambling late to dramatically overpay for the services of Newcastle United's Moussa Sissoko the headline Premier League moves of a typically anti-climatic deadline day.
With no more deals permitted until January and the Football League deciding to scrap the oft-farcical emergency loan window, the signing of free agents is now the only way for desperate managers to plug any gaping holes in their squads over the next four months.
That pool is now just beginning to thin out somewhat with the likes of Victor Anichebe, Philippe Senderos and Urby Emanuelson successfully finding new employment with Sunderland, Rangers and Sheffield Wednesday respectively. Nevertheless, IBTimes UK has endeavoured to put together a starting XI of the best unattached players still available to be snapped up over the coming weeks. In a 4-4-2 formation for the purists, obviously.
GK: Marco Amelia
The veteran Italian goalkeeper was signed by Chelsea in October 2015 on a contract until the end of the season to act as back-up to Asmir Begovic after first-choice Thibaut Courtois was ruled out for three months following knee surgery. The former Livorno, Palermo and Genoa stopper, who has nine senior international caps for should be considered as a short-term option given that he has not featured in a top-flight match since leaving AC Milan more than two years ago.
RB: Ryan Taylor
We're not going to lie to you, filling the right-back slot for this team has proven to be a challenge. The 32-year-old set-piece specialist, formerly of Tranmere Rovers, Wigan Athletic and Newcastle United, has been blighted by serious injury woes throughout his career. Taylor made 12 appearances during a short stint with Hull City last term – mostly in the cups – before being released along with Sone Aluko following the Tigers' instant Premier League return.
CB: Martin Caceres
One of the most high-profile free agents on this list, the 68-cap Uruguayan bid farewell to Juventus after five years and the same number of Serie A titles. Chelsea eventually succeeded in their long-running quest to sign another defender with the recapture of Luiz, but The Mirror now reports that a deal for Caceres, who played only six times in his final Turin campaign due to disciplinary issues and a torn Achilles tendon, is being considered after Antonio Conte missed out on other Serie A targets including Leonardo Bonucci, Kalidou Koulibaly and Alessio Romagnoli.
CB: Philippe Mexes
Speaking of experienced defenders, Mexes, 34, remains on the market after a 12-year spell in Italy ended with his summer release by AC Milan. The ex-Auxerre, Roma and Les Bleus centre-back is currently attracting attention from Marseille, who are believed to be interested in offering a short-term deal worth in the region of €1.5m (£1.2m, $1.6m).
LB: Jose Enrique
Liverpool's decision to release the Spaniard just before the end of his contract in May came as a surprise to absolutely no-one. Initially signed from Newcastle by Kenny Dalglish in 2011, he made only nine appearances under Brendan Rodgers in 2014-15 and was used in just three FA Cup ties by Jurgen Klopp. Given that Enrique was reported to earn between £50,000-£72,000 per week at Anfield, wages could prove a problem to any interested party.
RM: Peter Odemwingie
Ageing winger-cum-forward who is now best known for his his memorable antics in January 2013, when he drove down to London on deadline day without permission from West Brom in the hope of completing a move to QPR, only for the deal to fall through. Minus a loan spell at Bristol City, Odemwingie has spent the last two years at Stoke and failed to win a contract at Hull following a trial earlier this summer.
CM: Mathieu Flamini
One of a trio of experienced midfielders released by Arsenal at the end of their contracts *(the others being Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta), the battling DM still has a few more miles left in the tank at 32. Crystal Palace have been linked with a potential move for Flamini, who came close to reuniting with ex-Gunners teammate Emmanuel Adebayor at Turkey's Caykur Rizespor. Roma, Olympiacos and former employers AC Milan are also said to hold an interest.
CM: Leon Osman
A veteran of 426 matches for Everton, the 35-year-old and right-back Tony Hibbert had given almost 28 combined years of service to the Toffees before being shown the door in June. Rumours of a potential deal with Leeds United have yet to bear fruit, but it's hard to believe that Osman would not be a serviceable Championship player, even at this late stage of his career. David Moyes also seems to love reuniting with trusted old players at Sunderland, as we have seen with the additions of Steven Pienaar and Anichebe.
LM: Junior Hoilett
The tricky Canadian's career has rather petered out into frustrating inconsistency since QPR paid a compensation fee of approximately £4m to sign him following his departure from Blackburn Rovers in 2012. Still only 26, his next move will be crucial in determining whether he will ever come close to realising that significant early potential.
ST: Emmanuel Adebayor
The former Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Spurs frontman is available for hire once more after last season's one-goal spell with Alan Pardew's Crystal Palace. We are going to hazard a guess that recent reports regarding a pay-as-you-play return to White Hart Lane might just be slightly wide of the mark, although second-tier promotion hopefuls Fulham were supposedly considering an offer on deadline day after that aforementioned move to Turkey failed to materialise.
ST: Dimitar Berbatov
Who would begrudge this occasionally sulky but effortlessly silky Bulgarian one final hurrah in English football? Now 35, he is available on a free transfer after leaving Greek side PAOK and has most recently been in talks with Palermo regarding the possibility of a one-year deal.
Other notable free agents
Mark Schwarzer, Kieran Richardson, Raul Meireles, Stephane Sessegnon, Diego Poyet, Charles N'Zogbia, Nicklas Bendtner, Miroslav Klose, Dani Osvaldo, Zakaria Labyad, Kevin Constant, Mohamed Sissoko, Jonas Gutierrez, Sulley Muntari, Alex, Marouane Chamakh, Sol Bamba, Antonio Di Natale, Hugo Viana, Federico Macheda