By Chris Wright
We’ve already seen several sides hemorrhaging players over the past week or so, with the likes of Bolton and Sunderland parting company with 22 players between them, while poor old Macclesfield Town even went as far as releasing 21 players from a squad of just 33 on Monday following their relegation from the Football League.
We thought we’d have a quick look at some of the players going on freebies this summer and pick out ten of the best – though, with the sheer amount of contracts being allowed to peter out, you could by rights kit out an entire, perfectly serviceable Premier League squad for next to zip this summer (we know it says ‘Top 10’ on the tin, but these aren’t really in any particular order)…
1. Craig Gordon: Sunderland were never likely to get their money’s worth from Gordon, largely because they paid so bloody much for him – spunking a then-record £9 million on the Scottish ‘keeper back in 2007 – but his time on Wearside has been largely underwhelming thanks to near-constant injury and lapses in form. He’s a decent goalie mind you, and would be worth a free flutter if his wage demands aren’t still astronomical.
Likely suitors: We’ve got a funny feeling that West Ham may come a-callin’.
2. Alessandro Del Piero: Oh how we desperately want to see Del Piero given one last whirl in the Premier League. The obvious drawbacks include him being older than most Sequoias and only good for about 2o or so bit-part appearances, but the pros include him being Ale-bloody-ssandro Del Pi-sodding-ero.
Likely suitors: Arsenal have been mentioned in passing, but the exorbitant £0 fee may prove a stumbling block. Maybe ‘Arry’s chairman can do a deal?
3. Michael Owen: Unwilling to besmirch his CV by mixing with the smelly, typhoid-riddled proles in mid-table, it’s difficult to envisage where Owen is going to wash up next – what him suffering from rather prohibitive delusions of grandeur and all. It all comes down to that age-old paradox again: He definitely is still worth a gamble BUT that gamble is almost certain to backfire miserably. What’s a gal to do?
Likely suitors: Damned if we know. He’ll be holding out for someone like Tottenham but, let’s face it, he hasn’t got a prayer. The world’s moved on, it isn’t 2002 any more. How about a move back to Newcastle? They bloody love him up at St James’.
4. Carlos Cuellar: Pies have been fans of the retainer-wearing Spanish centre-half since his Rangers days, impressed early on by his positional sense, aerial fortitude and penchant for the flying last-ditch block. Also able to fill in at right back (though he’s definitely better off in the centre) as he did do in most of his Villa run-outs, Cuellar could definitely provide a reliable service for a side hovering around the upper middle of the table.
Likely suitors: Sunderland