Late last week Premier League clubs announced their retained lists. But of course nobody is really interested in that; what really piques our curiosity are the number of top class players whose contracts will not be renewed. The Cutter assembled a team more than capable of holding their own in the top flight whose wage bill may be substantial but could be put together for a pittance…
1/ Manuel Almunia
175 appearances for Arsenal (including the Champion’s League final in 2006) keeping an impressive 70 clean sheets the Spanish shot-stopper may have gained an unwelcome gaffe-prone reputation but is still an imposing, athletic figure between the sticks.
2/ Jose Bosingwa
Only four years ago he was purchased for close to £17m and though Bosingwa is seemingly derided on a weekly basis by Alan Hansen for his defensive deficiencies the Portuguese right-back has a freshly-minted Champion’s League medal gleaming in his pocket and will surely interest several leading clubs across Europe.
3/ Paul Robinson
A tough-tackling no-nonsense full-back carved from old-fashioned rock. Robinson still has a couple of years of high level football left in him and is desperate for a new challenge after a frustrating spell at the Reebok.
4/ Ledley King/Ryan Nelson
With his contract now expired the elegant colossus is having to prove his fitness over the summer in order to secure a new deal at the Lane. It’s an odd development because the Spurs medical team will know Ledley’s chronic knee problem better than anyone but it is hoped that he prevails.
Should he not then the one-club man has intimated he will retire but perhaps he might be swayed elsewhere by a generous package that factors in his inability to play consecutive games. For any club – even considering his 70 grand wages – it’s a no-brainer because King is nothing short of immense. If you were offered a Rolls Royce with a dodgy fanbelt for nothing you’d still take it right?
Best to snap up Ryan Nelson in a double swoop on Spurs however to fill in during the inevitable absences.
5/ Carlos Cuellar
A much admired figure on the Holte End for his consistent displays and whole-hearted commitment and the love was mutual with the player calling his final game ‘one of the saddest days’.
Cuellar’s availability should provoke widespread interest due to his versatility across the back-line, a priceless commodity going for free.
6/ Akos Buzsaky
The 30 year old Hungarian may have struggled to live up to his usual high standards last term but has the imagination to unlock any defence and is a relentlessly busy schemer. Is also capable of unleashing a spectacular firecracker from nowhere.
7/ James McFadden
Only made eight appearances for Everton since his return and has endured a catalogue of injury set-backs in recent years. For the promise of recapturing what once was however he’s well worth a punt for nowt. Should he return to form and fitness, suddenly you have a 29 year old capable of producing the sublime.
8/ Danny Murphy
Fulham surprised many with their decision to off-load Murphy, a pivotal player in their set-up who may be 35 but still covers the pitch and snaps into every challenge. Last term he made 48 appearances which hardly points to a waning of his powers and the ex-Liverpool man’s bags of experience in the centre of things makes him the potential free signing of the summer.
9/ Michael Owen
The explosive pace may now be a thing of the past, ravaged by numerous pulls and strains, with the astonishing goal statistics consequently dwindling from 1-2 to 1-3 but Owen always has and always will offer a serious threat up front. Has recently declared he has no intention of retiring after a doomed spell at Old Trafford that saw the stock of this blue chip acquisition plummet. But get him fit, get him firing, and there is still unquestionably a 20-goal-a-season striker in there.
10/ Emile Heskey
With Owen in your ranks why not also make a swoop for his favourite ever striking partner and rekindle the days of Anfield batterings and the 5-1 in Munich. In latter years Ivanhoe – always criticised for his lack of goals – has increasingly dropped back into deeper areas and would be a fantastic free addition for his street-smarts and work-rate alone.
11/ Peter Lovenkrands
The flying Dane with the Glaswegian accent may have lost a fraction of his blistering pace but is still capable of bewitching on the wing and would be a solid recruitment for any promotion-chasing Championship side. Lost his way at St James’ and would welcome a chance to resurrect his career elsewhere.