Coral’s Premier League free transfer XI summer 2014
It’s that time of year again. The Premier League has released the accursed free transfer list that some players dread being on, while others relish the prospect of leaving sinking ships.
Coral experts have put their heads together and come up with a starting XI, plus substitutes, of players that known their current deals are up and, of the time of writing, are yet to resolve their futures for next term. So, who made it in?
Goalkeeper: Julian Speroni (Crystal Palace)
Argentine stopper Speroni, 35, kept a dozen clean sheets as the Eagles defied history under Tony Pulis and stayed up for the first time in the Premier League era. During 10 years at Selhurst Park he has won a record four Palace Player of the Year awards, and he could still stay in south London, although there is firm interest in him from two unnamed clubs.
Right back: Steven Reid (West Brom)
Former Republic of Ireland international Reid, 33, turned out 16 times as the Baggies did just enough to preserve top-flight status. A Premier League mainstay since 2003, injuries have dogged his career and he must now move on as managerless Albion overhaul their squad.
Centre back: Rio Ferdinand (Man Utd)
Ex-England centre back Ferdinand, 35, is leaving Old Trafford after 12 years. Only the FA Cup is missing from a glittering trophy haul that includes nine major honours with the Red Devils.
Despite a bit-part role under David Moyes, Ferdinand still managed to make 23 appearances in all competitions, contributing to seven clean sheets, during his final campaign at United. Coral experts have already given their views on where Rio might go next.
Centre back: Joleon Lescott (Man City)
It was made plain to Sky Blues defender Lescott that he had no future under Manuel Pellegrini. Despite being integral to Roberto Mancini’s Premier League title winning side two years ago, there was just no way past faithful retainer Martin Demichelis when the Argentine was fit.
Lescott, 31, was thus restricted to 10 league appearances and was dropped for the League Cup final triumph over Sunderland. He will, nonetheless, be in demand. Boyhood club Aston Villa; Hull City, a side that can offer him European football next term and West Ham, who tried to sign him in January, are all reportedly interested.
Left back: Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
It’s been a tough 2014 for England centurion Cole. First, he fell out of favour under Jose Mourinho, the man who brought him to Stamford Bridge in 2006; then came a call from Roy Hodgson saying Luke Shaw was going to the World Cup instead.
At 33 there are a still some years left in Cole, who no longer has international football to worry him. Might he end up in the MLS or on the continent? Coral experts have, like with Ferdinand above, assessed Cole’s options for him.
Right wing: Damien Duff (Fulham)
Veteran Irish winger Duff, 35, has never played outside of English football’s top two tiers at club level. Fulham are moving their golden oldies out after relegation, so this steady performer, who made three Premier League assists in 15 games, must find new pastures after five years at Craven Cottage. The MLS could be where Duff enjoys a swansong.
Central midfield: Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
England and Blues vice-captain Lampard turns 36 during the World Cup finals, and may still extend his Stamford Bridge career for another season. Talks are on hold, however, until he comes back from Brazil. This was the first season in over a decade that the scoring midfielder failed to reach double figures – a sign to Mourinho that his powers may finally be waning.
Central midfield: Gareth Barry (Man City)
A season-long loan spell at Everton has given holding player Barry, 33, a new lease of life. Like Lescott above, it has been made plain to him that there will be no new deal at the Etihad, so now he must decide whether to join Roberto Martinez at Goodison Park permanently. Barry may once again attract interest from Arsenal, who are looking for another anchor.
Left wing: Matthew Etherington (Stoke)
Potters and one-time West Ham and Spurs wideman Etherington was not part of Mark Hughes’ plans at the Britannia, so they have allowed the 32-year-old’s contract to run down after five-and-a-half years. As Burnley released fellow left-sided player Keith Treacy after promotion, Turf Moor might be a decent destination to keep Etherington in the top-flight.
Striker: Samuel Eto’o (Chelsea)
You don’t associate three-time Champions League winners with being released, but Blues frontman Eto’o only signed on at the Bridge for one year. He netted a dozen in 35 appearances in all competitions, but Mourinho thinks he is too old – or older than he is (33) anyway – and wants a new strikeforce.
Striker: Shola Ameobi (Newcastle)
It almost seems cruel that target man Ameobi, 32, is being let go by the Magpies after spending more than half his life, quite literally man and boy, on the books at St James’ Park. He signed his first youth contract on Tyneside in July 1997. Puff Daddy’s ‘I’ll Be Missing You’ was top of the UK charts then, and the Toon Army should certainly feel that way about Ameobi.
There is a silver lining to this cloud, however. It’s something of a Cinderella story, but the functional frontman could grace the World Cup finals with Nigeria – the country of his birth. As for Ameobi’s club future, Hull are rumoured to want an experienced centre forward for their Europa League campaign.
In accordance with Premier League rules, we’ve named seven substitutes who are all looking for new clubs. Costel Pantilimon (Man City) replaced Joe Hart for a spell between the sticks at the Etihad this term, but the tall Romanian stopper must move on.
Defensive options on the Coral bench are Sunderland’s Carlos Cuellar and Fulham left back John Arne Riise. The former has endured an injury-hit campaign, while the latter was in and out as he played under three managers at the Cottage.
There’s a further Fulham presence in midfield as top scorer Steve Sidwell offered plenty of box-to-box threat this term, but in vain. Joe Cole, meanwhile, was let go by West Ham as they plan for the future, with a new attacking coach coming into work under Sam Allardyce as per the owners’ orders.
Reserve striking options for Coral are a couple of Arsenal flops. Nicklas Bendtner might want to rein his ego in a bit as he seeks new employers, while Marouane Chamakh contributed five goals and four assists to Palace’s first successful Premier League season.
Who would be in your free transfer XI punters?