In a tough economic climate, the need to be frugal in the transfer market is more pronounced than ever before. Fortunately, there is plenty of value to be found amongst the players with contracts that have already expired or are due to expire in the next few weeks.
Didier Drogba is the most high profile free agent, seemingly bound for a reunion with Nicolas Anelka and the riches on offer at Shanghai Shenhua, although the deal is proving protracted and could provide big clubs the opportunity to entice the evergreen Ivorian. Jose Bosingwa and Salomon Kalou, who both featured in Chelsea’s Champions League final victory, are also available and unlikely to be short of suitors.
Blackburn’s Junior Hoilett, a revelation last season and one of the Premier League’s best young talents, appears bound for Borussia Monchengladbach, but the Football League’s brightest talent remains very much up for grabs. Crystal Palace’s prodigiously talented right-back Nathaniel Clyne has rejected the offer of a new contract and will shortly depart, compensation will be required but all the tops sides should be interested.
Barnsley midfielder Jacob Butterfield is another excellent prospect – he damaged knee ligaments in December and remains sidelined, but his future lies away from Oakwell. Craig Gordon was one of the Premier League’s best goalkeepers before a barren couple of years, where injury restricted the 29-year-old to just one start since February 2011 – Celtic, Hull and Wigan are believed to be monitoring the situation. Wigan themselves have a need to recruit with both Mohamed Diame and Hugo Rodallega departing for nothing.
Danny Guthrie impressed when deputising in Newcastle’s central midfield last season, having just turned 25, he is seeking regular first team football and is sure to generate plenty of interest. Former Birmingham, Crystal Palace, Everton and Fulham striker Andy Johnson is considering a move to the United Arab Emirates, but the experienced 31-year-old could be tempted to remain in the Premier League should an attractive offer materialise.
The available options from the rest of Europe include Tranquillo Barnetta, the versatile, 27-year-old Swiss midfielder has ended an eight year association with Bayer Leverkusen and is a long term target of Newcastle. ‘The Hammer’ Thomas Hitzlsperger is a free agent after his Wolfsburg contract expired – a former German international, he also boasts plenty of Premier League experience. Manuel Fernandes also has previous experience of English football and has mutually agreed to terminate his Besiktas contract after the club failed to pay his wages. Croatian trio Mladen Petric, Danijel Pranjic and Ivica Olic are all up for grabs, with Pranjic and Olic both keen to impress potential employers at the Euro 2012.
Mathieu Flamini, a player adept at running down his contract and seeking bumper deals elsewhere, is negotiating a new deal at Milan – they have offered reduced terms and he may still decide to stay, but he is more likely to follow the money. The Rossoneri have also cut adrift ‘Super’ Pippo Inzaghi and Gennaro Gattuso, who may return to Rangers, but for any club seeking a touch of class and a genuine legend of the game, Alessandro Del Piero has departed Juventus after nearly 20 years with the club. He is keen to prolong his playing career and would be an exciting addition to English football.
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