So, the transfer window has closed and the 20 Premier League teams are stuck with the players they have. Or are they?
There are plenty of players yet to find a club after being released in the summer, and they are all free to sign for any club who will take them.
In the past there have been plenty of Premier League managers willing to take a punt on cast-offs from across Europe, with some experiencing more success than others. For every Peter Lovenkrands there is a Mario Jardel, and for every Stephen Carr there is a Mineiro.
To show the wealth of talent available on a free, I have constructed a team of players still on the market. I would not be surprised to see certain top-flight managers take a punt on one or two of the following eleven.
Goalkeeper – Dida
For all his propensity to drop a clanger, Dida remains capable of doing a job in the top flight. After all, you don’t win 91 caps for Brazil without having some talent.
Behind the occasional (and often comical) mistake lies a ‘keeper with phenomenal shot-stopping ability. While his reflexes may not be quite what they used to be, the 36-year old could provide useful cover at a number of different clubs.
Right-back – Ricardo Rocha
There is little doubt that Portsmouth would have kept hold of Rocha if they could afford his wages, and it is something of a surprise that no club has snapped him up so far.
Impressive during Pompey’s run to the FA Cup final last season, the versatile Portuguese defender put a disappointing spell at Tottenham behind him to prove he has what it takes to succeed in England. I would not be surprised to see former Portsmouth boss Avram Grant bring him to West Ham in the near future.
Left-back – Max Tonetto
Italian international Tonetto has played European football for two clubs, and might be best remembered by English fans for missing the decisive penalty as Roma were knocked out of the 2008/09 Champions League by Arsenal.
The versatile 35-year-old is as comfortable on the wing as he is at left-back, and he could prove a valuable asset to a number of sides.
Centre-back – Danny Shittu
Shittu might not have played any club football for over a year, but any doubts about his fitness were extinguished when he played all 270 minutes of Nigeria’s World Cup campaign.
The former Bolton man has bags of Premier League experience, and may feel he is still capable of playing at the highest level. However at the very least he could do a job for any Championship club, and it is a little baffling that no club has come in for him as of yet.
Centre-back – Jay DeMerit
Another World Cup regular, Demerit will want to sort out his future quickly to ensure he remains in USA coach Bob Bradley’s plans.
While offers from the MLS and England’s Championship are likely to be forthcoming, the 30-year-old may want one last hurrah in one of Europe’s top leagues before he hangs up his boots.
Right midfield – Yildiray Basturk
Turkish midfielder Basturk hardly set the world alight in his short spell with Blackburn Rovers, but on his day he is practically unplayable.
The versatile playmaker, while not the hardest worker, has impeccable close control and bags of skill, as evidenced by his contribution to the great Leverkusen team alongside such illustrious names as Ballack and Ze Roberto.
Left midfield – Jacek Krzynowek
Plenty of clubs could do with owning a player of Krzynowek’s ability, even if he is the wrong side of 30.
The Polish winger is skilful and has a powerful shot, which he demonstrated against Real Madrid in a Champions League tie a few years ago. While he may have lost a bit of pace, Krzynowek is still capable of pulling a rabbit out of the hat from time to time.
Central midfield – Arnold Bruggink
After beginning his career as a striker, Bruggink has found a new niche for himself in an attacking midfield role.
The former Dutch international has carved a successful career for himself, first in his homeland, then in Mallorca, and most recently in the Bundesliga with Hannover. With an eye for a pass and an even greater eye for a goal, the former FC Twente prodigy may wish to extend his career in a fourth country.
Central midfield – Ruben Baraja
Plenty of clubs are in need of a midfield enforcer, and there are few available who do that job better than Baraja.
After captaining Valencia for much of his 10-year spell, the Spaniard opted to leave the Mestalla this summer. Injury problems have limited his involvement in recent years, but Baraja has never been one to rely on pace, and he could well have another year or two at the top.
Forward – Julio Cruz
A regular goalscorer in Argentina, Holland and Italy, the former Inter striker is without a club after being released by Lazio at the end of last season.
The powerful Argentine frontman has 22 caps for the Albiceleste, the last coming in 2008, and he played twice for Jose Pekerman’s side in the 2006 World Cup.
Forward – Guille Franco
Despite an impressive 2009/10 campaign with West Ham, Mexico international Franco once again finds himself without a club after being released as part of the Irons’ cost-cutting operation.
The Argentine-born frontman endeared himself to the Upton Park faithful with his tireless efforts, and has a knack for scoring vital goals. Any young striker could benefit from watching Franco go about his game.
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