Premier League: Free Transfer XI
With every club looking for a bargain, and newly promoted sides desperate for quality, @dnsandnick give us their pick of the potential free transfers from the Premiership for this summer.
GK. Lukas Fabiankski (age 26)
Just when he’d seemed to have wrestled the gloves from Polish colleague Wojciech Szczesny at Arsenal, Lukas ‘Flapihandski’ fell victim to injury. But don’t let his previous, potentially harsh nickname put you off. With him in goal Arsenal’s defence tightened up and their form improved, as they won all 4 games. At 26, a good run of games could see him prove to be a very shrewd acquisition indeed.
CB. Antolín Alcaraz (age 30)
How Martinez missed his South American central defender this season. Managing only 8 games was undoubtedly a contributing factor in the Latics’ eventual relegation. A full Paraguayan international, he possesses a classic uncompromising nature. When he was operating in the middle of the back three he consistently earned his manager’s praise, picking up various Man-of-the-Match awards in Wigan’s two previous houdini acts.
CB. William Gallas (age 35)
Love him or loathe him (and perhaps most of London is the latter) he has shown some impressive performances over the years. Most recently as captain for Tottenham, lest we forget. His age is clearly against him and injuries have never been too far away, but just half a good season from the 84-time capped Frenchman could be the difference between survival or not. But how far down the table would he be willing to drop?
LB. Maynor Figueroa (age 30)
The second Wigan man in the team. After being linked to several bigger clubs a few years ago following some eye catching performances (including that own-half goal against Stoke in 09-10) he may be surprised to find himself without a club. Often deployed on the left of a back three this season due to injuries elsewhere, his best performances are at left-back or left-wing back and will surely find himself not just back in the Premiership but potentially at a mid-table club.
RB. Danny Simpson (age 26)
After an incredible ‘breakout’ year in 2011-12 (as they’d say in the States) it didn’t go according to plan for the one-time Man Utd youth product – as indeed it didn’t for Newcastle. Curtailed by injury and an apparent spat with his manager Alan Pardew, Simpson has found himself firmly behind the Frenchman Debuchy. Perhaps he shouldn’t have announced his intention to leave way back in December. If he can learn from this, and quell murmurings of off-field problems, he is surely worth a punt.
CM. Chris Brunt (age 28)
The somewhat under-rated Irishman is exactly what a promoted team will be looking for. Hard-work, versatility, leadership skills, good set-pices and of course a hammer of shot from time to time. At 28 he still has plenty to offer and it’s largely testament to West Brom’s progress – Mulumbu and Yacob proving formidable – that they can afford to let him go on a free.
CM. Thomas Hitzlsperger (age 31)
You could argue Der Hammer’s career never quite fulfilled its early promise, when we saw him leave for a successful Stuttgart team from Aston Villa in 2005. The fact he has only managed 24 first team appearances since 2010 is in stark comparison to his impressive international record of 56 caps (6 goals) for Germany, no less. So don’t be surprised to see him given one more chance, or indeed see one of those 30 yarders whistle in.
LM. Florent Malouda (age 32)
Ah Malouda. He has suffered the kind of fall from grace almost exclusively attributed to Chelsea. Once a world beater, now a training-dodger. Still, at least he’s had Paulo Ferreira to talk to… French player of the year two years running, Chelsea player of the year in 09-10, 80 caps for France and only 32, it would be truly remarkable for him to remain on the free transfer list. The only question is his motivation. And his wage demands…
RM. Yossi Benayoun (age 33)
Good passing, vision, and an ability to drift unmarked into the box have been a feature of Benayoun’s game for most of his career. The highlight of which being an integral part of the title-chasing Liverpool team in 2008-9, playing 43 times chipping in with 9 goals. A surprising move to Chelsea and a bewildering loan to Arsenal have derailed his career somewhat. But someone with his ability to create goals should not be underestimated, even at 33 – he was afterall never reliant on pace.
SS. Andrey Arshavin (age 32)
Who was the explosive, crafty little Russian that seemed capable of dragging Russia all the way the way to European Championships in 2008? He was the same little Russian who whilst at Zenit whetted the appetite of just about major club in Europe, including Barcelona, winning the Russian Premier League, League Cup, Super Cup, UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup and Russian Footballer of the Year. It was sad to see the same, dejected, demoralised playmaker standing on the left touchline, hiding from the ball. Can he ever rediscover his zest? Someone must surely try.
CF. Mladen Petric (age 32)
If you’re thinking Petric is a slightly surprising choice given Carlton Cole is also free, look back beyond his time at Fulham: 38 goals in 72 games for Basel; 13 in 29 for Borussia Dortmund; 38 in 98 for Hamburg tell you all you need to know about the forward. A dangerous left foot and some sharp thinking weren’t evidenced enough in the Premiership. A current Croatian international too with 13 in 45. No doubt there will be offers from Germany, but perhaps an English side should tempt him to stay here a little longer.