The post-Bosman transfer system is a complete boon for those club chairman horrified by the wages that average players command these days. With June 30th heralding the end of many Premier League contracts, here are some available players that might interest thrifty managers.
Jermaine Pennant (Right winger, released by Liverpool)
I’ve never quite understood the fuss surrounding Jermaine Pennant, another in a long line of young players that failed to realise their supposed (assumed?) potential. But, at the same time, he has spent nine of his ten footballing seasons playing for top four clubs Liverpool and Arsenal. Signed by Arsenal for £2m from Notts County when just 15, he appeared just 12 appearances in six seasons, making various loan moves to Watford, Birmingham and Leeds in that time. He is now a free agent after his Liverpool contract expired and you can be fairly certain that his days playing in the Champions League are now over. A drink-driving conviction for which he spent 30 days in jail and a conviction for public order offences means that Pennant is a potential liability and only likely to attract attention from the Premier League also-rans.
Possible destinations: Wolves, Bolton, Blackburn, Stoke.
Dietmar Hamann (Defensive midfielder, released by Manchester City)
At 35 one feels that Hamann’s top flight career might be over. He did a good job in Sven Goran Eriksson’s only season in charge of Manchester City but last year made just 9 appearances. The likes of Burnley and Wolves are unlikely to see a requiement for someone of his vintage given their relatively young squads, Hull have George Boateng in that defensive midfield position, Birmingham have Lee Carsley. A drop down to the Championship or a move back to Germany might be on the cards.
Possible destinations: Nottingham Forest, Leicster City, Ipswich Town.
Lucas Neill (Right back, released by West Ham)
Neill turned down a one year contract extension at West Ham, reportedly because he was asked to take a pay cut but possibly also because, at 31, he wanted a longer deal. He received a lot of criticism from fans in general after he chose the Hammers over Liverpool in 2007 with the general belief being that he went to Upton Park for the money. Blackburn fans have little time for him after he upped sticks and left aftersix seasons at Ewood Park. Leaving that aside, would he be an astute free transfer? The legs aren’t quite what they used to be but Neill is experienced and, on his day, can be formidable. He’s still capable of doing a job in the top half of the table but he might find a pay cut is facing him wherever he goes. Everton might like competition for Tony Hibbert and Portsmouth have just lost Glen Johnson.
Possible destinations: Everton, Portsmouth.
Henri Camara (Striker, released by Wigan)
I’m loathe to suggest Camara as a target but you know someone is going to go for it. The Senegalese international, now 32, has been something of a nomad since his controversial time at Wolves in 2004. He refused to play in the second tier after they suffered relegation and spent relatively unsuccessful loan spells with Celtic and Southampton. Wigan spent £3m on him in 2005 and while his 20 goals in 69 games was a reasonable return, he still found himself loaned to West Ham and Stoke without scoring for either. He has been relegated with Sedan, Wolves and Southampton so if he does stay in the Premier League it will probably be in a relegation scrap.
Possible destinations: Birmingham, Hull, West Brom.
Michael Owen (Striker, released by Newcastle)
For me, this is a no-brainer – if the contract is right. Owen, in spite of the spate of (preidctable) injuries suffered while at St James Park, still netted 26 times in 71 games. However, his performances at the tail end of last season were a sorry sight and it will be a shame if that’s what weighs on the mind of prospective employers as they look through his prospectus. I’m sure Owen does not feel all that motivated by reported interest from Stoke and Hull but he may be very interested in any interest from David Moyes and Everton. A boyhood Evertonian, the match seems perfect. He’s only 29 and if protected (in the same way that Spurs protect Ledley King) then he could do a great job for a club who are relatively skint.
Possible destinations: Everton.
Radhi Jaidi (Central defender, released by Birmingham): Useful center-half. At 33, he might have a good year left in him for those in the bottom half of the table.
Andy van der Meyde (Right winger, released by Everton): Injuries blighted his four years at Everton but at 29 and a career that has taken him to Ajax and Inter, he finds himself of interest to Blackburn.
Lee Bowyer (Central midfielder, released by West Ham): A once-promising Leeds career collapsed to relative insignificance following the GBH trial of 2001. Stints at Newcastle and West Ham were only moderately successful and it seems he’ll sign with Birmingham where he spent the last six months of the season.