One free agent with Prem experience that each club must sign

Date published: Tuesday 18th January 2022 10:43 - Matthew Stead

The free agent pool is packed full with Premier League experience, so it’s time to fit one player with each club. Jota to Liverpool is a must.

 

Arsenal – Yaya Sanogo
If they cannot prise Dusan Vlahovic from Fiorentina before the summer, Arsenal must find a short-term solution to their striking problems. They presumably still have the number of Yaya Sanogo, Emirates Cup icon and scorer of one goal for the club during a four-year spell in the mid-2010s. The Frenchman has scored three times in 38 English league appearances for four different teams. And all of those came in a hat-trick for Charlton in their February 2016 4-3 defeat to Reading. He left Huddersfield upon the expiration of his contract in the summer, knows north London well, is not at AFCON and can keep Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang far enough away from the process.

 

Aston Villa – Wilfried Bony
“I don’t think anyone runs the way I do. I don’t think anyone has a backside the size of me,” said John McGinn in December. Wilfried Bony entered the chat.

 

Brentford – Christian Eriksen
If his welfare can be as assured as possible, then absolutely definitely certainly yes bloody please.

 

Brighton – Hal Robson-Kanu
Three of his four top-flight campaigns have resulted in relegation but that means one did not and Brighton have to like those odds. The 16th-highest Welsh scorer in Premier League history will sort that xG out.

 

Burnley – Andy Carroll
Sean Dyche seems to realise there is no point keeping up the pretence that Burnley have reinvented themselves as the home of continental flair with Maxwel Cornet. He seems ready to embrace pure Claret by adding Andy Carroll to a selection of strikers over the past five years that includes Chris Wood, Ashley Barnes, Sam Vokes, Jon Walters and Peter Crouch.

 

Chelsea – Oumar Niasse
This one is triple-pronged: Chelsea officially need a Plan B up front and Oumar ’36 Premier League starts, 12 goals’ Niasse is that man; he clearly likes the colour blue; and the amount of player churn at Cobham means there will never be a shortage of lockers. The 31-year-old also left Huddersfield at the end of last season, meaning Carlos Corberan had two of the great strikers at his disposal just a few months ago.

 

Crystal Palace – Jack Wilshere
“I was on the books when Patrick was still here and I think the way he tackled and intercepted play is something I would add to my game,” said a young and naive Jack Wilshere in 2010. Who better to learn from than the man himself? Plus it means the 30-year-old can stay fairly local.

 

Everton – Ramires
The ghost of Sandro Ramirez must be exorcised somehow before Farhad Moshiri’s hex is lifted; this is probably their best chance. Aside from that, it’s hard to envisage any problems in adding a 2010-2016 Chelsea staple to a volatile dressing room with a burgeoning reputation for exerting player power to oust unpopular managers.

 

Leeds – Carlos Tevez
It was in February 2012 that Carlos Tevez named Sir Alex Ferguson and Marcelo Bielsa “the best managers I had”. The 37-year-old, who last turned out for Boca Juniors in May 2021 but has yet to retire despite continuing speculation, won both the gold medal and the Golden Boot under the Leeds head coach at the 2004 Summer Olympics. Tevez scored in all but one game for Bielsa in Athens and would at least drag the average age of that bench up by a decade or so.

 

Leicester – Franco Di Santo
Brendan Rodgers targeted Franco Di Santo both as Liverpool and Celtic manager, having worked with the 32-year-old forward on his mastery of the non-scoring nuisance role during their time together in the Chelsea academy. There are rumours that Di Santo has signed an 18-month contract with Turkish side Goztepe, which admittedly would prove quite the obstacle, but if Leicester want someone with as many career Premier League goals as Robinho, DJ Campbell and Jon Stead, then they will have to work for it.

Emmerson Boyce and Franco di Santo celebrate

 

Liverpool – Jota
Purely for the confusion. The 25-year-old Portuguese has ten Premier League goals this season. The 30-year-old Spaniard has ten Premier League appearances ever for Dean Smith’s doomed yet safe Aston Villa in 2019/20.

 

Manchester City – Claudio Yacob
The potential for tactical fouling is unbridled. That in itself could prove to be an issue after Yacob almost broke Ilkay Gundogan in September 2017. But they will be able to iron things out quickly. There is no need to send in the clowns at Manchester City but every reason to get the Claudios in.

 

Manchester United – John Obi Mikel
While the Nico Gaitan dream is still alive as the 33-year-old has been without a club since last summer, he does not tick the requisite ‘Premier League experience’ box. John Obi Mikel absolutely does, plus he probably still has the shirt from 2005 and Manchester United famously need a central midfielder. Everyone is happy.

 

Newcastle – Eliaquim Mangala
Look, they need a central defender at some point. Diego Carlos seems close but Newcastle will Newcastle that up at some point and when they do, the panic will set in. Eliaquim Mangala cost £427m or whatever it was Manchester City ended up paying once. He is also only 30, has a Premier League winner’s medal and conceded five goals in his one full game under Sam Allardyce. He will do.

 

Norwich – Ahmed Elmohamady
Might as well help Steve Bruce feel welcome and at home for his inevitable ascension to the Carrow Road throne in July. Ahmed Elmohamady obviously played fairly extensively under Dean Smith, too, so there are no losers here.

 

Southampton – Andre Wisdom
Not only could Southampton benefit from some #WednesdayWisdom, but Ralph Hasenhuttl would relish integrating a fellow Red Bull alumnus into his team. It is difficult to explain but there is also an indelible quality about Andre Wisdom that makes it easy to imagine him trudging off the pitch after a 9-0 defeat.

 

Tottenham – Diego Costa
‘Hi Diego, I hope you are well. Thanks for the season we spent together. Good luck for the next year but you are not in my plan.’ For the purity of Barclays, make it happen.

 

Watford – Hatem Ben Arfa
It is genuinely quite astounding that this hasn’t happened yet. Someone is going to have to take a punt on Hatem Ben Arfa, whose free agency came to pass in precisely the way you might expect: Bordeaux chose not the renew the 34-year-old’s contract because the ‘sporting conditions’ for a 12-month extension were ‘not hit’. Two goals in 24 Ligue Un games just isn’t enough for some people.

 

West Ham – Kevin Mirallas
“Our individual player scored a goal that maybe a Gareth Bale would, as he has done this season. He scored one the other week as well,” David Moyes said of one particular Belgian in April 2013. “Kevin Mirallas scored a Gareth Bale goal – or maybe Gareth’s been scoring Kevin Mirallas goals!” The 34-year-old scored the last two home goals of Moyes’ Everton reign in a win against West Ham so it’s time to close that circle.

 

Wolves – Giovani dos Santos
The uber-talented youngster is still only 32 and carries the very essence of a forgettable Wolves player.

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