With financial fair play rules set to kick in, the importance of getting ‘more for your money’ has never been so high in the Premie League.
With all transfer activity now relying on club income, just how will so-called ‘smaller’ clubs compete with the big boys?
As has been proven time and again in the past, the free transfer market can offer some real gems. With that in mind, here’s a team made entirely of Premiership players whose contracts are set to expire this summer.
Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski
The 28-year-old Polish stopper has endured a tough time at Arsenal. He’s only managed 31 appearances in six years with the Gunners having faced stiff competition from the likes of Manuel Almunia and Wojciech Szczesny.
However, he has shown rare glimpses of brilliance and he is an experienced international ‘keeper with 21 caps. Surely worth a punt for any team in need of a new number one?
Right back: Danny Simpson
Danny Simpson seems to have spent more time on the front pages of newspapers than the back this year after embarking on a ‘celebrity relationship’ with Tulisa, but perhaps we shouldn’t forget he’s actually quite a talented footballer.
Since signing permanently for Newcastle from Manchester United Simpson has proven to be a steady hand at right back. Although he’s lost his place to Frenchman Debuchy, Simpson offers a steady if unspectacular option.
Centre back: Kolo Toure
Ever since his ‘little’ brother Yaya started tearing apart Premier League defences Kolo has endured a frustrating spell at Manchester City. However, the Ivory Coast international has made 79 appearances in four years for the Citizens, which isn’t a bad record considering the competition he faces for places.
Now two years on from a failed drugs test, surely there’s a home in the Premier League for this rock hard centre back to end his career?
Centre back: Richard Dunne
Bags of Premier League and international experience – check. Strong in the air and a genuine goal threat – check. Holder of the record for most Premier League own goals – check.
Aside from the last somewhat comical statistic, Richard Dunne could be a great option for any team looking to add experience to their backline. Although he’s lost his place in Aston Villa’s side due to Paul Lambert’s youth overhaul, many sides would surely be happy to take the Irishman on.
Left back: Maynor Figueroa
Who can forget ‘that goal’ scored by Wigan’s Honduran left back – a screamer from inside his own half. However, Figueroa offers more than goal-of-the-season contenders.
He’s been a standout performer for Wigan over the last five years and at one point there was even talk of a big money move to a top four club.
Right midfield: Jermaine Pennant
One of England’s, seemingly reformed, ‘bad boys’. Despite undeniable talent Pennant’s career has been undermined by off-the-field incidents, notably one that resulted in him turning out for Birmingham City wearing an electronic tag.
Although he’s struggled for form in recent seasons he still possesses a turn of pace and quick feet that defenders dread.
Centre midfield: Frank Lampard
Football fans around the country are still scratching their heads wondering exactly why Chelsea are even considering letting this iconic goal scoring midfielder’s contract expire.
Yes he may be entering the twilight of his career at 34 years-old, but a record of 139 goals in 419 games for Chelsea is exceptional. 12 Premier League goals in 25 appearances this year show that the England International isn’t slowing down just yet.
Centre midfield: Yossi Benayoun
Yossi Benayoun is a tricky player to understand. He burst onto the English scene with West Ham, earning himself a big-money move to Liverpool in the process.
But since then, despite flashes of brilliance, the Israel international has seemed content with a place on the bench at the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea.
He’s tried going back to his old hunting ground at West Ham this season, but that didn’t quite work out. Perhaps a change of scene for the creative midfielder could reignite a stagnating career?
Left midfield: Chris Brunt
Could West Brom really be about to let their captain walk away for free? The Northern Irishman with a lethal left foot has been outstanding for this year’s Premier League surprise package West Brom since he signed for them in 2007.
Although a few niggling injuries have restricted him to 23 starts this season, there’ll be a long queue of clubs waiting to snap him up if the Baggies do let him walk away for free this summer.
Attacking midfield: Florent Malouda
Where did it all go wrong for the mercurial Frenchman? After his multi-million pound move to Chelsea everything looked bright for the silky midfielder with 80 France caps.
He looked good in front of goal and was a key component in Chelsea’s attack. However, a slight dip in form and a fall out with management resulted in no squad number and a place training with the youth team. Surely there’s a team out there that can resurrect this man’s once glittering career?
Striker: Carlton Cole
Carlton Cole boasts the power and pace that many strikers can only dream of. He came through the youth ranks at Chelsea and was touted as the ‘next big thing’ in English football. The target man has even managed seven England caps. However, Cole’s biggest problem (quite a big one for a striker) has always been putting the ball in the net. He’s only hit the target 59 times in a 12 year career, although his Hammers strike rate has been his best by far. However, the raw talent is still there, so he could be an interesting option for a team needing an experienced big man.
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