There are those really quite happy to train with the Under-21s and pick up their massive wages – we’re looking at you Jose Enrique and Charles N’Zogbia – but there are other footballers who would really rather be playing somewhere else…
Saido Berahino – ‘Silly little spoilt boy’ or just a young, ambitious footballer whose ill-advised decisions have contributed to a ridiculous stand-off which has reportedly seen his club stubbornly refuse offers of £24m that will surely never be matched again? We know Berahino himself cannot be happy, but we suspect that this situation cannot be pleasing Tony Pulis too much either. He has neither the money to spend on reinforcements nor a motivated striker who is roughly 4.27 times more talented than Victor Anichebe.
As Daniel Storey wrote last month: ‘The best thing about keeping hold of your star asset is that you get to play him. Tony Pulis has regularly spoken out against Berahino’s efforts in training, but having a demotivated player at the club losing value and damaging his career benefits nobody.
‘The best situation for all would be for Berahino to leave the Hawthorns this month. If not, and West Brom continue to dig their heels in, it must be worth starting him over Victor Anichebe and Lambert.’
He started against Peterborough and scored two goals; right now the ‘silly little spoilt boy’ can do no more.
Loic Remy – As Harry Redknapp says: “He’s a goalscorer and he’s a great finisher. He needs to play somewhere because at the moment he comes on for ten minutes at the end of the game and it’s no use to the boy. He’s wasted two years of his career.”
First, ‘the boy’ is 29. And second, poor Loic really has tried to leave Chelsea. In a perfect illustration of the bizarre nature of this Premier League season, the Frenchman is patently not good enough for the team in 13th but would be rather a good fit for the side that leads the title race.
On Monday we were all set to see Remy join Leicester on loan and potentially play more than ten minutes at the end of the game, but then Chelsea sniffed a chance to get rid of Radamel Falcao and blocked a potential exit for their other unwanted striker. Falcao stayed; Remy remains; neither can be happy.
Peter Crouch – The third player on our list of ten players desperate for a move that did not materialise, it’s Crouch who attracts most of our sympathy. Especially after he finally started a game in the Capital One Cup semi-final and predictably missed his penalty after toiling for 120 minutes. That was almost twice as much time as the big man has spent on the pitch in Premier League games this season; he was only called upon when Mark Hughes decided that Stokealona could not win at Anfield; he needed proper Stoke.
“If I can’t play then maybe I do have to move on,” Crouch said earlier in January. “I played 33 or 34 Premier League games last season so to have not featured this season has been very frustrating but all I can do is try to take opportunities when I’m given them and try to force my way back in.
“There have been times when it’s been hard. When you’re running on the pitch after games, you’ve been watching but haven’t been part of it. You say that you’re part of it, of course, but it doesn’t feel like it at times.”
It always feels a long way from summer in Stoke, but for Crouch it will feel like a lanky lifetime.
Gokhan Inler – Hamburg, Schalke, Sunderland, Aston Villa. All reportedly asked about a loan for the Swiss international midfielder, but Inler remains at Leicester, sticking pins into a doll of N’Golo Kante. It wasn’t meant to be like this – Inler was the man to replace the cool head and winning mentality of Esteban Cambiasso, while the arrival of Kante was as heralded with the same enthusiasm as the onset of a tickly cough.
“I like to go on the pitch and make everything go right,” said Inler when signing for the “perfect” Foxes. The problem is that Inler hasn’t really been allowed on the pitch. In fact, he has played fewer Premier League minutes for Leicester than Nathan Dyer. Not the kind of preparation a man needs to captain his country at the European Championship.
Emmanuel Riviere/Yoan Gouffran – We have lumped them in together because Newcastle would probably throw in the other if only somebody, anybody would take one of them off their hands. Both have apparently been hawked around France like baskets of cleaning products sold by those blokes who knocked on your door in the 90s and scared you just enough to make you buy a mop. With your pocket money.
But nobody wants this pair, who have played a total of 152 minutes of Premier League football this season; striker Riviere has contributed two of those minutes. To be fair to the lad, he has been injured; Gouffran has no such excuse. He is just proof that for every Yohan Cabaye, there is a Gouffran with a slightly different Christian name.
The most bizarre twist to this sorry tale is that Henri Saivet joined the club last week and said that he had spoken to Gouffran at length and he had recommended Newcastle. What’s the French for ‘the benches are lovely’?