With the end of the January transfer window approaching, a lot of players will be allowed to start discussing potential summer moves for when their contracts end.
There are many forgotten stars and underrated youngsters who are actively seeking a new team for next season and are allowed to discuss terms six months before the end of their current deal. So here’s my list of the best bargains on this seasons ‘Bosman list’.
Goalkeeper-wise there isn’t much on offer. Jussi Jaaskelainen at Bolton and Steve Harper at Newcastle are both experienced goalies who could be available but both will probably renew their contracts in the coming months, with the former seemingly waiting to find out if Bolton stay in the Premier League.
The considerable abilities of Craig Gordon and Chris Kirkland are also on offer but it would be a big risk on either player, with both suffering numerous injury problems in the past couple of years.
Tim Howard too, is nearing the end of his contract but it is almost certain that he will re-sign before the end of the season. The two who stand out here for me are Heurelho Gomes and Tomasz Kuszczak. Gomes has struggled to get near the Tottenham team in the league this season and he will be wanting first-team football.
Spurs have an able back-up goalkeeper in Carlo Cudicini – who is also out-of-contract this summer – and I imagine they will let Gomes go, and keep Cudicini as back up. Gomes has struggled at times in the Premier League though, and I envisage him moving abroad rather than stay in England. Kuszczak, on the other hand, would be a good signing for any mid-table Premier League team.
He is a solid goalkeeper who has never had a decent chance at United and is still relatively young for a goalkeeper at 29. I expect to see Kuszczak stay in England, possibly moving to one of next season’s promoted clubs.
As far as defenders go, there is even less on offer. Zat Knight at Bolton would generate interest at a few clubs, but like Jaaskelainen, I’m sure he is just waiting to see what happens to Bolton before committing himself to the club. Jonathan Woodgate and Ledley King have proved they are still able to hobble through 25 games a season, and although Woodgate has lost more than a yard of pace, both are still accomplished defenders.
While Tony Pulis will probably renew Woodgate’s contract at Stoke, Harry Redknapp at Spurs may be thinking time is running out for King, especially with Spurs likely to be the Champions League next season, and may look to sign someone else. King would represent a risk, but I am sure there are already some enquiries for him.
The stand out defender in my opinion are Slyvain Distin, who may get a new deal at Everton, but at 34 would still represent a good signing for most Premier League sides. The other good opportunity is Maynor Figueroa at Wigan. The Honduran international has always been a dependable defender, either at centre-back or left-back, and would be looking at a new Premier League club should Wigan be relegated.
In midfield, there are a few good players who might be available. All of the relegation-threatened clubs have several players in this situation, with most players probably waiting to find out if their team will be in the Premier League next season. Junior Hoilett (Blackburn), Akos Buzsaky (QPR) and Jordi Gomez (Wigan) stand out from the bunch in terms of relegation candidates.
There is also Mohamed Diame at Wigan, who has said in the past that he dislikes living in Wigan and may look to move regardless of whether they get relegated. Diame is a box-to-box midfielder who has two very good feet and I expect a lot of interest in him if he decides to leave Wigan.
As Owen Hargreaves move across Manchester has failed miserably (I don’t know if he really expected to break into the first-team at City), he will probably look to transfer under the ‘Bosman’ ruling at the end of the season and will interest a few teams.
Ryan Giggs is also on the list but will not be leaving Manchester United, the only question is whether the 38-year-old will announce a surprise retirement at the end of the season. I think he still has something to offer and expect him to sign a new one-year deal come June.
I doubt that many clubs will be scrambling for Emile Heskey’s signature at the end of the season, but there are some good players available, as far as strikers are concerned. Didier Drogba stands out straight away but I expect him to move to China, if he doesn’t get his desired 2-year contract extension at Chelsea.
Drogba’s team-mate Soloman Kalou, on the other hand, may choose to move to another Premier League team, with Arsene Wenger a long-term admirer. Fulham’s Andy Johnson seems likely to move, either in the next week or on a free transfer in June, after falling out of favour with boss Martin Jol.
Johnson is an experienced goal-scorer and I think he will generate some interest from teams in the bottom half of the league. I doubt that Man United will offer Michael Owen another year on his contract, and with the former England international previously saying that he will not drop down a league, he might struggle to find an offer from anyone except the newly promoted teams next season.
The best striker available in my opinion is Hugo Rodallega at Wigan. Rodellega isn’t prolific but is he is a very talented footballer who could possibly be tempted by a move, whether Wigan are relegated or not.
Of course a lot of these players could move before the end of the January transfer window and a lot of them will sign new contracts before the end of the season.
As things currently stand though, these are the pick of the bunch in my opinion.
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