22nd December 2017.

As the January transfer window is just around the corner, clubs all over Europe will be discussing their plans to bring in the targets they have identified.

Historically, January has been a time period where you might find a bargain in the market, due to the player forcing his way out of the club, or because their contract is expiring in six months' time.

With that being said, here are the three best free transfers available in Europe right now:

Mesut Özil Arsenal


The German's next club, should he leave Arsenal, will realise that they have secured one of the biggest bargains of the last decade.

It has been surprising to see the Gunners allow Mesut Özil to run down his contract with no contingency plan involved, and so there is no surprise to see a number of teams interested in signing the World Cup winner when his contract expires next June.

Özil is in the position now, coming into January, where he can sign a pre-contract with a foreign club, which states that he will officially sign for his new clubs once his existing contract with Arsenal expires on 30 June 2018.

Unfortunately for English clubs, Özil does not have that privilege, and so if Jose Mourinho is genuinely interested in the German, which it is to be believed that he is, the Portuguese boss has some convincing to get this deal done.

It is blatantly obvious how good Özil can be when he is in top form. There are always question marks over his consistency, but as proved when working under Mourinho, the 29 year old can be one of the best playmakers in the world.

Stefan de Vrij Lazio


Lazio's competitiveness this season has largely been down to Ciro Immobile's impeccable goal scoring run, but it cannot be without mention of Stefan de Vrij's importance who has been an absolute rock in the heart of their defence.

The central defender, standing at 1.90m, is a domineering player who gains respect from his teammates through his performances on the pitch.

In Lazio's defence, de Vrij usually plays on the right-side of a three-back formation under Simone Inzaghi. Given the Dutch international is right footed, it makes sense, but he is not adverse to playing in the middle of the defence.

Why he is put out on the right side is because of his quick turn in speed, which is fairly unusual in players as tall as de Vrij. It would be a big surprise to see Lazio tie down the Dutchman to a contract extension, and so they might feel the best option is to sell in January and at least receive some fee.

Like with any top player, there is always going to be rumours circulating about them. Those include Inter, who have supposedly agreed personal terms with de Vrij, and Liverpool, as he could be seen as an alternative to Southampton's Virgil van Dijk.

De Vrij is a fantastic footballer and has plenty of years left in him, given he is only 25 years old. He could well be the solution to Liverpool's defensive frailties.

Leon Goretzka Schalke


Another German that only has six months remaining on his contract is Schalke's central midfielder Leon Goretzka.

The pleasing news for Premier League teams regarding the 22 year old is that he will be eligible to sign a pre-contract with those clubs, given they are foreign from his native Germany. To no surprise, there are a handful of top English clubs interested and are all vying for his signature.

Along with those teams, clubs from Italy and Spain also pose a threat, while there were rumours back in the summer that Goretzka had some sort of 'gentleman's agreement' with Bayern Munich about joining when his contract expires.

The German is a fantastic central midfielder and has not even reached his prime years yet. The slight problem is Goretzka's injury problems - he has already missed 47 days out through injury this season alone due to his knee problems.

Goretzka is typically a box-to-box midfielder and covers the ground ever so well. He seems to have it all in terms of what he provides in a defensive capacity, as well as what contribution he makes going forward.

Again, like with his patriot Özil, the club that manages to sign him will be picking up one of Germany's brightest talents for an almighty bargain. Goretzka has what it takes to elevate any team's midfield, especially Manchester United.

This article was written for Soccer Box, a great place to shop for all your official soccer jerseys and team kit, by Liam Canning.