The Premier League transfer window has been open for nearly two months now but there are still plenty of bargain buys and freebies up for grabs.
As is an annual custom, clubs up and down the country from all sectors of the footballing pyramid released a list last month outlining the players who would not be handed new contracts, and thus, set free from their books.
Some clubs in the Premier League have already pounced: Jonas Lossl to Everton and Phil Jagielka to Sheffield United are the two standout moves, while the likes of Alberto Moreno and Samir Nasri have tried their luck overseas with Villarreal and Anderlecht, respectively.
But, not all those released have found new homes thus far and, while rumours of potential moves have been rife over the past couple of weeks for some of the standout names, there are still plenty of high-profile players whose futures are yet to be decided.
So, who are they, and which Premier League clubs should be targeting them?
Who should sign him? Newcastle United
Mike Ashley doesn’t like to spend, we know this, so a move for a high-profile player, without having to splurge on a transfer fee, will no doubt be an enticing prospect for the polarising owner. The Magpies recently parted company from Ayoze Perez so there is a clear attacking void in Newcastle’s squad at the moment and Danny Welbeck could prove a more than adequate successor to the Spaniard, should he stay fit.
Despite his injury problems, the 28-year-old has the potential to flourish at a club whose expectations aren’t as lofty as Arsenal’s and, depending on who the Tyneside club bring in as their next manager, the England international could prove to be an astute piece of business given the club’s precarious predicament at present.
Who should sign him? Everton
This summer, the Toffees have already lost three centre-backs: Phil Jagielka, Ashley Williams and Kurt Zouma. The former duo were released, while the latter returned to Chelsea after a season-long loan on Merseyside. There is no question Marco Silva will be on the hunt for a new defender to remedy the current gap at the back and while reports suggest the Portuguese coach may look to bring Zouma back to Goodison Park, Frank Lampard may not want to sanction such a move given the Blues’ current transfer embargo.
As such, a move for the west London club’s former captain, Gary Cahill, could prove a viable option. He doesn’t possess the youthful legs and giant frame of Zouma, but he carries immense Premier League experience and could still do a job, even as a back-up option, plugging the hole for a season at least.
Who should sign him? Crystal Palace
Roy Hodgson hasn’t had the best of luck in the centre-forward department at Selhurst Park since stepping in two years ago, with his current crop standing at Christian Benteke, Alexander Sorloth and Connor Wickham – three physically imposing and mountainous No 9s who are very short on goals. He needs some creativity in the final third.
Last term, he had that technical nimbleness in Michy Batshuayi but, again, Chelsea may be reticent to let potential key players leave given their two-window ban, and so, Hodgson could move for Daniel Sturridge, a stylistically similar player in terms of movement and close control. The England international is another in the Welbeck bracket, a player with star quality but injury problems aplenty to hamper that potential shining through.
It’s a risk, given his history on the treatment table, not to mention he will likely demand a sizeable wage package, but as the old expression goes: no risk, no reward.
Who should sign him? Burnley
Sean Dyche recently released Peter Crouch from his books; while the 6ft 7in striker never truly cemented a berth as a first-team regular, the Clarets may want to bring in similar player, one who can provide them awith n alternate dimension in the final third.
Last season, the Lancashire club scored the third-most headers of any team (13), behind only Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur, so this could prove a match made in heaven. Of course, not many teams will want to take a gamble on a player with Carroll’s injury track record, so he may have to reduce his wage demands in order to find a new home, which will certainly be an appetising prospect for Dyche.
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Who should sign him? Wolves
With Matt Doherty the club’s only senior out-and-out right-back, Nuno Espirito Santo may want to bring in some cover for the Ireland international without having to break the bank, and what better player to recruit as his competition than Stephan Lichtsteiner?
Given Doherty’s imperious form last term, not to mention the Switzerland international is 35, he will no doubt play a peripheral role, but he certainly demonstrated in 2018/19 that he can still do a job at the back as well as the fact that he now has a season of Premier League football under his belt – this could be a move that works for all parties.
Who should sign him? Aston Villa
The Villans recently splashed out £22m to prise Wesley Moraes away from Club Brugge but there are no guarantees the hulking Brazilian will be able to emulate the prodigious goalscoring form of last season’s Villa Park prince: Tammy Abraham.
Dean Smith may want to bring in at least one more forward to supplement his attacking line having lost Abraham and he probably won’t want to dish out another £22m to make that happen, so why not bring in an experienced striker who offers not only an added element of creativity, but also non-stop running? The 33-year-old is certainly getting on, but Villa will need an element of streetwise experience if they are to retain their top-flight status next term and Okazaki certainly offers that.
Who should sign him? Bournemouth
Asmir Begovic’s Bournemouth career is seemingly over after his relationship with Eddie Howe infamously broke down last season, while Artur Boruc will be 40 next February and Mark Travers is massively inexperienced for the top-flight.
As such, Howe could very well be tempted to lure Adrian to the South Coast; at 32, the West Ham cult figure is still an extremely sturdy pair of hands and has a number of years of Premier League experience. He is in that prime age for goalkeepers and on a free transfer, the Cherries could secure a fine shot-stopper, and one who has the capacity to supplant Boruc.
Who should sign him? Sheffield United
Todd Kane excelled on loan with Hull City last season and has attracted the interest of a number of Championship clubs after rejecting a contract renewal with Chelsea. At 25, the buccaneering right-back feels that now is the time to settle down at a club, rather than continuing his nomadic odyssey in the Eredivisie and English football’s lower tiers.
Newly-promoted Sheffield United could certainly profit here and offer an avenue for Kane to become an established top-flight professional. Chris Wilder drew widespread adulation for his three-at-the-back system last season and Kane could prove a more than adequate competitor for the Blades’ usual right wing-back, George Baldock.