As we approach the last two months of the Premier League season, the issue of players leaving and joining clubs begin to enter the minds of both clubs and fans.
A common headache for managers however, is deciding whether to offer that special veteran the contact they crave, or to give a young player a new bumper contact to convince them to stay.
At this stage of the season, if a player’s contract is set to finish in the summer, it begins to look increasingly likely that this will be their last season with the club.
Here we take a look at a Premier League XI that would not require a transfer fee.
Goalkeeper: Lukasz Fabianski | Arsenal
Polish ‘keeper Lukasz Fabianski has been with the Gunners since 2007 when he joined from Legia Warszawa, and has played a bigger role this season in the absence of fellow Pole Wojech Szczesny.
He has often found himself playing second fiddle, first to Manuel Almunia and then Szczesny, but has shown he is a very able understudy given the chance in the first-team.
His display against Bayern Munich shows that he may still have a place in the north Londoners’ team if he earns himself a new contact.
Right-back: Danny Simpson | Newcastle United
English right-back Danny Simpson has been with the Magpies for just under three years and played a key role as Newcastle returned to the Premier League, winning promotion from the Championship.
His game time has been limited in this season with the arrival of many new players, notably Frenchman Mathieu Debuchy from Lille.
The Manchester United graduate was tipped to have a big future, but his career has stalled somewhat. Despite this, Simpson is a good option for any team in need of a right-back, and there will no doubt be a whole host of clubs interested in signing the ex-Blackburn defender.
Centre-back: Kolo Toure | Manchester City
The Ivorian centre-back is into his fourth season with Manchester City after spending seven years at Premier League rivals Arsenal, and it has been an eventful stay.
Establishing himself as a first-choice centre-back in the City team, the wealth of Sheik Mansour soon hit him hard and he found himself second fiddle to Vincent Kompany and Joleon Lescott after returning from a six-month drug ban.
Some recent solid displays in the absence of Kompany have earned him praise from pundits, although his long-term Manchester City future remains in doubt.
Centre-back: Rio Ferdinand | Manchester United
The most expensive defender in English football came under criticism last season after being accused of loss of pace and failure to make correct decisions in key games, but he has bounced back this season and has made 26 appearances for the team that sits 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
His impressive form has even earned him an England call-up, only for him to turn it down to follow a pre-planned fitness schedule in Qatar.
Despite his England future being in doubt, the 34-year-old has still done a solid job for Manchester United this season and has earned plenty of praise for his dominant defending in all competitions this season. Where he plays next season is still shrouded in mystery.
Left-back: Maynor Figueroa | Wigan Athletic
Maynor Figueroa has been a constant part of Wigan’s continued stay in the Barclays Premier League over the past few seasons.
Joining the Latics, initially on loan, he signed permanently in 2008, and the Honduran has gone on to make over 170 appearances in all competitions, establishing himself as a key man on the left side of their defence.
Whether it is decided he stays at the relegation threatened side remains to be seen, but at 29 he still has good few years of good football left in him.
Right-midfield: Chris Brunt | West Bromwich Albion
Chris Brunt has been a key part of West Brom's team over recent years, having signed from Middlesbrough in 2007.
He played a big role in taking the Baggies into the Premier League a few season ago, and is known for his exceptional long range strikes, including quite a few curling free-kicks over the years.
Brunt has proved he is Premier League quality too, and he was a big reason behind’s West Brom's continued stay in the Barclays Premier League.
He certainly won’t be short of suitors should he leave the Birmingham based club in the summer. Although predominantly a left-winger, he has shown he is more than capable on the right side and was a good option for this theoretical team.
Central-midfield: Frank Lampard | Chelsea
Since joining Chelsea in 2001 from fellow Londoners West Ham, Frank Lampard has been a key part of all everything positive from Chelsea.
He has made 395 club appearances, scoring 138 goals and has kept that up this term, reacting positively to not being offered a new contact.
Despite taking a more conservative role recently, he has still shown his eye for goal netting his 200th career strike recently. He will inevitably go down as one of the best box-to-box midfielders of his generation, if not the best, and any top European side would be happy to take advantage of Chelsea’s stubbornness.
Central-midfield: Paul Scholes | Manchester United
Still yet to make a decision on whether to extend his illustrious career and retire for a second time, a new contract is waiting for Paul Scholes if he wants it.
Having come out of retirement to salvage Manchester United’s midfield in the middle of last season, Paul Scholes hasn’t featured as prominently this season, with a few injuries preventing his return to the first-team.
The ginger magician has had a glistening career, including a treble win in 1999, but may decide to end it sooner rather than later. He still is playing however, and is without a new contact so in theory he could well be a free transfer target come the end of the season.
Left-midfield: Florent Malouda | Chelsea
Florent Malouda has had a tough season at Chelsea, after playing a key part in winning the Premier League with them in the 2009/10 season, he has spent this term training with the Under-21s and has played no football for the senior side.
Deemed unnecessary by club officials, a buyer was not found for the Frenchman, subsequently leaving him left out in the cold and out of the team. He showed his quality after joining from Lyon but was never given a chance to repeat that form after injuries halted his progress in London.
Certain to leave Chelsea this summer, his most likely destination Brazil, the skilful left-winger would be a welcome addition to most clubs wanting a tricky winger.
Second striker: Andrei Arshavin | Arsenal
Once hailed as the best player in the Arsenal line-up just a few seasons ago, Russian playmaker Andrei Arshavin has endured a difficult time in the past two terms.
Signing from Zenit St. Petersburg in the winter transfer window in 2009, the little magician became an instant Gunners hero after he became the first player to score four goals at Anfield since 1946 and was supposed to be the figurehead of the team for many seasons.
Sadly, as we often see in the world of football, his next few seasons would start to fade in quality and he eventually returned to Zenit on loan in the 2011/12 season.
Seen as a fringe player by Arsene Wenger, he is almost certain to leave the London club in the summer for a new team. Whilst his best days may be past him, he does possess a lot of quality and if he can unlock that once again, a lot of clubs would be lucky to have him.
Striker: Carlton Cole | West Ham United
Hammers target-man Carlton Cole has been a key figure for the club in past seasons, especially in their promotion back to the Premier League last season, scoring a number of vital goals in the play offs.
Starting out at neighbours Chelsea, Cole was sent out on loan three times before finding a new permanent home in West Ham and was a perfect fit for their classic English style of play.
A big target-man who can hold up play and control the ball in physical situations, he adds a certain dimension to the team that others do not possess. However the addition of Andy Carroll forced Cole out the team and despite a run of games in Carroll’s absence through injury, he seems like he may be out in a few months, but should be a target for a number of Championship and possibly Premier League clubs too.
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