In this summer, perhaps more than any other, the amount of players in the Premier League who are out of contract or have been released by their clubs is quite incredible. Apparently a ‘free transfer’ is no longer a term affiliated with bargain basement signings – this year, there is some real quality up for grabs.
Of course, wage bills have to be considered, but there are many big names available without the big money asking prices. The result is a splurge of ‘smaller’ Premier League teams entering into negotiations with players that they would otherwise never have been associated. The following are 6 free agents that are causing a stir:
Perhaps the highest profile player to have been released by his club this summer, Ashley Cole is a player still highly rated in world football. For many, Jose Mourinho has got this call wrong, as he looks to rid Chelsea of its old set-up and rebuild something new.
Cole is still only 33, and could offer many good seasons to a top club, especially since his decision to retire from international duties. There are few more decorated than him in the Premier League, and there a few with as much experience.
Another supremely experienced footballer, Rio Ferdinand has seen and done it all for Manchester United. He’s working this summer as a pundit for the BBC, which could be indicative of his future career plans, but for now the 35 year old could still have one or two more seasons in the tank.
He has become frustratingly injury-prone over recent years, however, and he might not be fit enough to feature in every game. That being said, his influence on the training field alone would go a long way to strengthening another Premier League squad.
Another defender, and another one-time England international. Lescott is a little younger than Cole and Ferdinand, and at 31, he could still enjoy a lengthy career elsewhere. Deemed surplus to requirements at Man City, the player will have to take a step down from the champions in order to keep competing.
What Lescott needs is a decent, unbroken run in a first-team. At one point he had been looking like England’s potential first choice. Whilst his international hopes have all but petered out, though, his club football plans need not dwindle as well.
Composure has been an overriding aspect of Gareth Barry’s game ever since he was a youngster. It is a few years since he was last considered especially youthful now, but his calm, measured approach has been maintained.
After a successful season-long loan at Everton last year, Barry has proven himself as a top quality player once again. He may not be able to get into the Man City side, but he could challenge for a first team space in the majority of teams that finished in the top half of last season’s Premier League.
At Stoke, Etherington has been a source of creativity for the past 6 seasons. However, as the Potters changed their style of play last year, the player found that he was garnering first team selection less and less frequently. Stoke are no longer the rough and ready side that they once were, and Etherington was no longer their only source of attacking potential.
At 32, the player has a wealth of experience behind him, although he never really achieved the potential that he had carried. He is not as high profile as the others on this list, but he is surely a very attractive prospect for a mid-table side, or perhaps one of the newly promoted teams.
Another with a slightly more affordable wage bill, Ridgewell was surprisingly released by West Brom at the beginning of this summer. Since moving from Birmingham City in 2012, he has been an almost ever present in the Baggies’ side for the duration of his 2 and a half year contract.
At 29, he definitely still has a considerable career ahead of him, and he could offer a side some lengthy years of service. He is a ‘no nonsense’ style of defender, and he would probably be welcome within many Premier League sides with mid-table ambitions.