While Diego Godin, Adrien Rabiot et al have all signed up for new clubs, there are a handful of players still available for absolutely nothing. We have put them in an XI…
“They’ve been six tremendously positive years. I left as a 26-year-old to experience the Premier League and I’ve enjoyed six years where the affection of the people will stay with me more than anything else. I only have words of thanks for the club, the fans, the employees…I will always have West Ham in my heart.”
The Spaniard says he is open to playing just about anywhere across Europe and we presume that even after Brexit that would include the West Midlands and Aston Villa, who would see him as a far, far cheaper alternative to Jack Butland.
Right-back: Dani Alves
He has played over 700 senior games and over 200 have been under the tutelage of Pep Guardiola, who almost signed him in 2017 but lost out to the lure of PSG and Neymar. He has once again been linked with Manchester City this summer even though he is now 36. Now that would be quite some back-up/competition for Kyle Walker. Make it happen, Txiki. Oh and he has won quite a lot of trophies.
Centre-back: Gary Cahill
Journalists and pundits are queueing up to tell us that Gary Cahill can ‘still do a job’ but that might well be the only queue; the latest reports are that Leeds are not interested in the former England man. His last Premier League start came in May 2018 so any desperate clubs should tread a little carefully before they approach a man who allegedly turned down Fulham in January.
Centre-back: Daniel Schwaab
Now, he might not be available to Premier League clubs because he is leaving PSV to be closer to his family in Germany, but he would be a very useful free addition to any mid-table Bundesliga club. “He has always been a reliable defender and a good team player,” said PSV coach Mark Van Bommel when asked about the 30-year-old who has previously left Bayer Leverkusen and Stuttgart on free transfers. The smart money might be on a move back to his hometown club of Freiburg.
Left-back: Milad Mohammadi
Yes, the same Milad Mohammadi who should inspire an MLS skills challenge. But the Iranian is more than a poor amateur gymnast; he is a 30-times-capped Iranian international left-back – most recently stationed in Russia – who was previously linked with Newcastle and more recently with Celtic as a replacement for Kieran Tierney.
Central midfield: Leroy Fer
Ignore the three relegations in five seasons (well, don’t ignore them, just push them to the back of your mind), for Leroy Fer was an excellent central midfielder once upon a time. And at just 29, there is half a chance that he could yet be an excellent central midfielder again. He is currently training with his first club Feyernoord so any potential suitors need to move fast.
Central midfield: Nemanja Radoja
The Serbian with two international caps was frozen out at Celta Vigo last season as he refused to sign a new contract, but the last laugh might belong to him if he gets a lovely signing-on bonus at an exciting new club. Aston Villa and Real Betis are among those said to be interested in the 26-year-old.
Attacking midfield: Yacine Brahimi
Talking of a lovely signing-on basis, Yacine Brahimi looks very likely to end up at Arsenal with £3.5m tucked down his shorts as his £0 price tag fits really quite well into their budget this summer. He is certainly considerably cheaper than Wilfried Zaha, who is in limbo as Crystal Palace selfishly refuse to sell for the price that the Gunners decide.
Forward: Danny Welbeck
Oh, lovely Danny Welbeck with his improbable 16 England goals in 42 England appearances, but who managed only 16 goals in 88 Premier League games over five pretty unlucky seasons while an Arsenal player. He is remarkably only 28 and would make an excellent signing for a mid-table club; he would certainly fall within Newcastle’s meagre budget, while he would provide excellent back-up at Everton (to Diego Costa?).
Forward: Daniel Sturridge
Now he has his dog back safe and sound, Daniel Sturridge can concentrate on finding a home for his considerable talents. The two-time Champions League winner was fit for the majority of last season and could be a canny signing for a mid-table side (or Aston Villa). He has scored a very credible 76 goals in 218 games, though it has been five years since his sole 20-goal season.
Forward: Mario Balotelli
He’s been offered to West Ham. Of course he’s been offered to West Ham. It just feels like fate. He’s only 28 and he scored eight goals in 15 Ligue Un games for Marseille at the end of the season. But should the Hammers really be replacing one immature man child with another? Hell yes.