Free agent XI
Who are the best group of players still to find a club for this season?
The transfer window may have been and gone but that doesn't mean clubs are stuck with what they've got in terms of personnel. This is largely thanks to free agents who are still able to move and can be registered at any time.
With plenty of high-profile names still unattached, we take a look at the players who could be finding themselves at your club before too long:
The former Real Madrid stopper was famously preferred to club legend Iker Casillas by then manager Jose Mourinho. In reality, Adan was nothing more than a pawn in Mourinho’s feud with Casillas and he has since hit out at Mourinho for depriving him of deserved game time by signing Diego Lopez. At 26, the Spaniard obviously has a level of talent to have remained at Madrid for so long and could be an excellent bit of business for a Premier League side.
Baird was released by Fulham boss Martin Jol at the end of last season despite having made 19 Premier League appearances for the Cottagers last season. An experienced campaigner capable of playing in defence or midfield, Northern Ireland international Baird is still only 31 and may yet grab himself a move to a Premier League outfit.
Dutch international Boulahrouz left Sporting Lisbon in the summer and is yet to find himself another club. Boulahrouz could be forgiven for feeling he has unfinished business in England after an unsuccessful spell with Chelsea and is rumoured to be interesting both West Ham and Crystal Palace. His nickname ‘Khalid the cannibal’ certainly shows he’d be up for the physical challenge of the Premier League and at 31, he’s far from past his prime.
Remember when Ipswich Town were the future of English football? With Richard Wright and Titus Bramble previousy set to take the world by storm, how times have now changed. Always good value, Bramble has still forged a good career for himself despite never reaching those predicted lofty heights. Having left Sunderland, Bramble is still without a club and has been spotted back on trial with Ipswich.
An elder statesman at 36, Gallas has proven his quality time and time again. The French defender played 24 times for Spurs last season, so there should be no concerns about his ability to handle the pace of the Premier League. Having played for Chelsea and Arsenal before Tottenham, the good news for Gallas is there are another three London clubs left for him to choose from in the top flight.
There was a time when Bentley was the next great hope for an England generation. With his wicked delivery from the right-flank initially leading to comparisons with David Beckham, it’s safe to say that unfortunately didn’t last very long. Bentley only ever made seven international appearances following a £15 million move to Tottenham, a club where he never managed to establish himself as he slowly slipped down the pecking order before being released in the summer. Not yet 30, Bentley is a high risk that could yield high reward, though will likely cost a lot in wages.
Israeli international Benayoun has spent the last eight years of his career in England, bookending spells with Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal between two stints with West Ham, where he finished last season on loan. The 33-year-old now finds himself with without a club following his release from Chelsea but he does have a wealth of experience in the top flight - especially when it comes to unlocking tricky defences.
Arguably the player with the most pedigree on this list, Diarra spent four years with Lyon before moving to Real Madrid, where he won six consecutive league titles between 2002 and 2008 with the two clubs. Injury ended the Mali international's spell in the Spanish capital and he returned to France with AS Monaco before joining Fulham in the January of 2012, where he made 19 appearances before being released in the summer. While fitness may be a concern, there’s no doubting Diarra’s ability.
Hunt suffered something of a torrid time with injury last season but did return to feature regularly for Wolves before their relegation to League One. The Irish winger was linked with a deadline day return to former club Reading but may fancy his chances at another crack at the Premier League, possibly with another former club in Hull City.
Cole holds one of England’s most unusual records as the man to make the most senior international appearances without starting a game (it’s seven, in case you were wondering). The target man now finds himself without a club after exiting the Boleyn Ground after seven years in East London. The Chelsea academy graduate is still only 29 and still has plenty to offer the right club. West Ham were in talks to re-sign Cole but the deal fell through after the striker failed to prove his fitness during a trial.
Croatian striker Petric only spent one season at Craven Cottage before being released, notching five times in 23 appearances for Jol’s side. Petric arrived in West London following his release from Hamburg the previous season and has also represented Borussia Dortmund, Basel and Grasshopper Zurich in his career and the 32-year-old has been linked with Championship side Reading.
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