Are you still here? One forgotten or unshiftable player for each Premier League club

Dave Tickner
Hector Bellerin and Tiemoue Bakayoko in the Premier League

Next season is ludicrously nearby now, you know. But there is still business to attend to for everyone. Even those who’ve done shrewd work with their incomings will have to sort the other side of the ledger. And that’s where these lads come in. One player for each Premier League club who is still there despite, for whatever reason, really needing not to be…


Arsenal – Hector Bellerin
The hipster footballer yer da loves to hate – did you know he’s a bloody vegan as well? – appears to have run his race at Arsenal but having returned from a suitably enigmatic loan spell at Real Betis is still technically a Gooner. Hasn’t featured in the Premier League since May 2021, when an injury to Calum Chambers – himself no longer at Arsenal – afforded a 22-minute cameo against Chelsea. Betis would very much like to sign Bellerin, who isn’t a full in-the-wilderness outcast having been taken along for Arsenal’s US tour, but other dominoes need to fall first. Most notably, Nottingham Forest signing Alex Moreno from Betis.


Aston Villa – Frederic Guilbert
Thanks to the rona-delayed conclusion of the 19/20 season it’s almost exactly two years since Guilbert’s last Premier League appearance on the final day of that elongated season on July 26. Spent the first half of the 20/21 season either injured or unused on the bench before heading to Strasbourg on an initial six-month loan in January 21 which he enjoyed so much he hung around for a whole other year. Currently on tour with Villa in Oz and could yet spend the final year of his contract as Matty Cash’s understudy.


Brentford – Joel Valencia
Hasn’t played for Brentford since their failure to reach the Premier League via the play-offs two years ago. Also hasn’t scored a goal since his solitary Brentford strike in the 2019/20 season, despite loan spells at Legia Warsaw and Alcorcon. Admittedly he only started six games for Alcorcon but when ‘only started six games for a Spanish second division side’ is a key plank of the case for the defence you’re already struggling. Now entering the final year of his Brentford contract and here’s a hot take for you: we don’t think he’s getting another one.


Bournemouth – Junior Stanislas
Injuries kept the 32-year-old to a bit-part role in the promotion campaign – he wasn’t involved at all after the new year – and it’s very hard to see how even with the Cherries’ slim pickings on the transfer front thus far how he manages to once again be an integral part of a Bournemouth Premier League squad.


Brighton – Florin Andone
Spent last season on loan at Cadiz, who wanted to give him back halfway through the season. Brighton politely declined, but now find themselves stuck with the Romanian striker for another year unless alternative arrangements can be found. Wouldn’t bother asking Cadiz to be honest.


Chelsea – Tiemoue Bakayoko
Things may well start to change at Chelsea under new management, but for now they remain a treasure trove for this kind of thing. Baba Rahman, Kenedy and Michy Batshuayi are all still currently on the payroll. Bakayoko is a clear winner, though, for finding himself in the outcast wilderness at not one but two clubs. Chelsea, obviously, but also Milan, who are desperately looking for an escape halfway through a two-year loan deal for the Frenchman. Roma, Sevilla and Marseille have all been touted as possible destinations but so far nothing has stuck. And it may well be Milan who are stuck with him for this season, and Chelsea for the one after that.

Tiemoue Bakayoko Chelsea Milan F365


Crystal Palace – James Tomkins
Hasn’t started a Premier League game for Palace since a 3-0 defeat at Spurs in December. Is 33 years old. Has nevertheless been given a new 12-month contract. Fair play to him.


Everton – Jean-Philippe Gbamin
One man’s Like A New Signing is another man’s You’ve Been Here Three Years and Made Six Premier League Appearances That Added Together Only Make 210 Minutes and Only One of Which Was More Than 45 Minutes. He has been wildly unlucky with injuries, to be fair.


Fulham – Terence Kongolo
The Cottagers didn’t want him in January, with boss Marco Silva conceding they were actively trying to move him on. Sadly, nobody else wanted him either. If Fulham didn’t want him six months ago in the Championship, they certainly don’t now. Still has two years left on his contract, though, so if Fulham can’t shift him he could yet be around for another full Fulham cycle of relegation and promotion before his deal runs out.


Leeds – Kiko Casilla
Back at Elland Road after a loan spell at Elche with a year to run on a contract so lucrative that Leeds are reportedly ready to pay him to not let the door hit his arse on the way out.


Leicester – Dennis Praet
With Youri Tielemans looking increasingly likely to stay at Leicester this summer, Praet’s situation grows ever more dire. His year on loan at Torino last season was pretty good, but they’ve baulked at stumping up the £12.5m required to make that loan permanent, instead trying to manoeuvre the Foxes into accepting another loan deal with a lower final payment at the end. It’s a gamble from the Italians, but it may well work in the end. For now, though, he’s a bit stuck.


Liverpool – Nat Phillips
Loris Karius has been the default choice for Liverpool in this feature since 2018, but alas those glory days are now over. And The Other Ben Davies leaving for Rangers is a further blow. But all is not lost. Nat Phillips hasn’t left yet, as long as we get this feature finished nice and quick. He has suitors in both the Championship and Germany, according to reports, having helped Bournemouth back into the top flight last season while out on loan. Hasn’t played a Premier League game since the final match of the 2020/21 season, which was the last of a run of nine full 90s in 11 games in that crazy time when Liverpool had no centre-backs whatsoever.


Manchester City – Scott Carson
Still just brilliant that this is a thing to be honest.


Manchester United – Phil Jones
Played in four Premier League games last season after more than two years injured or out of favour or just existing purely in meme form for tackling people with his head and face. Still has another year on his Manchester United contract, but all our fun might well end with a move to the US and a reunion with former team-mate and current DC United boss Wayne Rooney. At which point, it will be Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s turn to take this spot.


Newcastle – Matty Longstaff
Plenty of players are likely to find themselves left behind by the pace of change at Newcastle over the months and years ahead but the tragedy for the younger Longstaff, who scored a winner against Manchester United on Premier League debut, was that the rot had set in before everything else changed at the club. Went from Newcastle to Aberdeen to Mansfield last season and little indication a happier trajectory awaits him this time around.


Nottingham Forest – Harry Arter
The 32-year-old still has a year left on his contract and spent the second half of last season playing National League football for Forest’s local rivals Notts County. If he does end up having any kind of future at Premier League Nottingham Forest then it’s a heck of a narrative arc.


Southampton – Moussa Djenepo
Drifted out of favour horribly last season after being heavily involved in eight of Southampton’s first nine Premier League games of the campaign. Did get 18 minutes to enjoy himself in a final-day thrashing off Leicester, so that’s nice for him, isn’t it? Those 18 minutes also more than quadrupled his total Premier League game time for 2022.


Tottenham – Joe Rodon
There are more conspicuous outcasts at Spurs, notably Tanguy Ndombele and Giovani Lo Celso who are both back at the club after loan spells in the second half of the season. But both that pair were actually quite involved last season before being cast out. Absurd as it sounds, Lo Celso’s last game for Spurs was the ludicrous 3-2 win at Leicester, which only feels about five minutes ago. But it’s Rodon who now looks most lost. He actually appeared in two of Spurs’ last three games of the season, but you’d be forgiven for not registering his blink-and-you’ll-miss-it appearances off the bench against Arsenal and Burnley. Other than that, his only Premier League minutes came as an early substitute for an injured Eric Dier in what would become Spurs’ first defeat – and a thumping 3-0 defeat at that – under Nuno Espirito Santo. There’s a World Cup in November for which Rodon should be one of Wales’ key performers. He needs to move.


West Ham – Darren Randolph
Another European campaign with a slimline squad means David Moyes will once again be grateful for any spare players he happens to stumble upon around the place, but even he might be surprised to find Randolph, who made no appearances at all in any competition last season and only even made it as far as a Premier League bench three times, still hanging around.


Wolves – Patrick Cutrone
His second and still-to-date last Wolves league goal predates the pandemic and his spell in the Serie A shop window last season brought him three goals in 28 games for Empoli. Just one more year for Wolves to live with the £16m mistake before everyone can move on, unless some rube can be convinced to hand over cash money for the striker any sooner.