World football veterans don't often get the chance to retire on their terms or transfer to new teams as the sun sets on their career. However, the 10 players on this list may end up bucking the trend and doing just that.
When a player of a certain age leaves a club, it is usually for a final payday at a lower-league team to pay the bills. Every so often a veteran will make a move that comes under the radar, but when analyzed it becomes the catalyst for success.
Experienced players can be worth their weight in gold, and experienced players with superb fitness and professional attitudes so late in their careers are worth even more than that.
Here, Bleacher Report looks at 10 veterans who could move on this summer and become the spark plug that inspires a club to another level completely.
After becoming Chelsea's record goalscorer, it will be something of a PR disaster for the Blues if Frank Lampard does not have his contract renewed this summer.
The soon-to-be 35-year-old has slowed in recent years but his 22 goals in all competitions this season show that he can still be effective at the highest level.
Earlier this year, the Daily Mirror reported that Lampard was close to emulating David Beckham's famous transfer to Major League Soccer. Lampard added fuel to the possibility of moving to the MLS by saying:
England will always be a big part of any decision I make.
While I’m available for England - and I certainly am now and in the future - I want to do my best to try to put myself in the squad.
I don’t think it rules out anything, including America.
Since then, Lampard has broken Bobby Tambling's goalscoring record. It would seem that the club has gone back on their view that the midfielder is too old. Roman Abramovich and Co. may now be willing to give the star a new contract according to the Daily Mirror.
Lampard going to the USA is still a major possibility, but the deal may hinge on who becomes the new Chelsea manager.
Richard Dunne may have played his last game for Aston Villa, and as a professional footballer.
The likable Irish central defender has only played 26 minutes for Paul Lambert this season, and that was in a preseason tour of America. Since then he has suffered with a series of niggling injuries that just won't heal. His latest battle, with a torn adductor muscle, has pretty much kept him out of Lambert's plans completely.
The Telegraph is reporting that Dunne will leave Villa Park this summer and quote Lambert as saying:
"It’s an incredible injury and something I’ve not come across. He will just have to wait and see for his own career."
On the other hand, The Irish Times says that Dunne will be allowed to stay if he proves his fitness and also quote Lambert:
As for the contract situation I haven’t spoken to him," he said. "I need to wait and see what his fitness is. The most important thing at the moment is for us to get over the line. But the door is certainly not closed in regard to Richard Dunne."
There is no doubting Dunne's Premier League status as a top defender when fit. However, his recent battles with his hip injury combined with his hefty wages at Villa mean that Lambert will be looking at life without the Irish international.
Should that be the case and should Dunne come back to full fitness, he will have no shortage of suitors in the lower reaches of the EPL. This will be the most important summer of the 33-year-old's career.
Liverpool may have to fight to hold onto their influential goalkeeper, Pepe Reina, this summer.
According to the Daily Mail, Barcelona wants Reina to return home as a replacement to Victor Valdes,who is leaving on a free transfer after his contract runs out in June. La Blaugrana have already signed 21-year-old German international Marc Andre ter Stegen from Borussia Moenchengladbach. MARCA is stating the youngster, out of contract in 2015, will move to the Catalan city sooner rather than later.
Reina could be the ideal man for Ter Stegen to learn from should this move materialize. However, the Liverpool Echo claims that no contact has been made between the clubs.
The Spanish shot-stopper, out of contract in 2016, is valued at £8.4 million by Barcelona.
Jose Mourinho is expected to take over from Rafael Benitez as Chelsea manager this summer. The Daily Mail is now reporting that the Portuguese has made Real Madrid's Xabi Alonso the Blues' No.1 target.
The 31-year-old is one of the few Madrid players to come out with real credit this season. His playmaking ability and vision would give Chelsea the kind of player they desperately need. The Mail goes further by stating that Alonso is out of contract in 2014 and has yet to respond to Madrid's attempts to tie him down until 2016.
The Independent, however, quotes Alonso as saying, "Of course I'm going to be here [at Real Madrid] next season."
As far as Alonso is concerned, he is in a win-win situation. Chelsea, it would appear, want to acquire his services and will match his wage demands easily. Real Madrid will have to match those demands if they want the ex-Liverpool man to stay. This is a situation his agent could use to his full advantage, so expect more Alonso rumors this summer.
If all the early speculation is correct, David Villa will leave Barcelona this summer. "El Guaje" will have no shortage of suitors if he comes available.
The Daily Mail has Tottenham Hotspur leading the charge for the 31-year-old striker. Barcelona seemingly wants £12 million for the Spanish international, but Spurs have only offered £7 million. The White Hart Lane outfit are still the only English Premier League team to lodge a bid, with Arsenal and Liverpool still monitoring the situation.
The player who could make the biggest and most important veteran-move of the summer is Phil Neville. The ex-England international is renowned in the game for his incredible attitude both on and off the pitch.
He now looks set for a move that few would have predicted just a few short weeks ago. The Daily Star is speculating that Neville is about to join David Moyes at Manchester United as part of the Scot's backroom staff.
Neville has already stated that he will leave Goodison Park at the end of this season (h/t Metro). However, the 36-year-old wants to keep playing at the highest level.
A move to Old Trafford as part of Moyes' team would give Neville the perfect opportunity to continue playing at the very highest level. He would also be protected by United's massive squad.
One potential move that could yet become a possibility is Neville returning to Everton as Moyes' successor. The defender-cum-midfielder spent eight happy years on Merseyside and has gone through an almost perfect pre-management apprenticeship under Sir Alex Ferguson and Moyes.
Having already signed ex-Chelsea legend Didier Drogba, now Galatasaray want to sign John Terry according to the Daily Mail.
While the 32-year-old Terry has slowed somewhat in recent years, he is still one of the best defenders in the EPL. The Istanbul-based Turkish champions look set to offer Terry a staggering £30 million deal over three years.
This potential deal rests on a number of hidden factors.
Terry is still one of England's best defenders and is said to be seriously contemplating a return to international duty after a self-imposed exile (h/t The Irish Independent). This return to the fold of international football would be more than welcome on the playing side of things by Roy Hodgson.
However, Terry carries excess baggage after he was found not-guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand, and Rio Ferdinand, Anton's brother, is a prominent member of the current squad (h/t The Telegraph).
Hodgson will need to decide if Terry has a place in his thinking for the World Cup next year. If Terry does, in fact, have a future at international level, he would be mad to leave for the outskirts of European football.
The other deciding factor could be the new Chelsea manager. Terry is the Blues' best defender but is now incapable of playing a full season. In this respect, his decision may be made for him. Terry might yet find he is not in the new manager's plans.
Kolo Toure will leave Manchester City at the end of the 2012-13 season. The 32-year-old and the club announced his plans to the Manchester Evening News earlier this month.
Toure has already stated his desire to stay in the Premier League despite the Daily Mail linking him with a move to AC Milan. There he would link up with former-Manchester City star Mario Balotelli.
The Ivory Coast international told Sky Sports;
For me my family is here, my kids are at school and they like the area - but in two months nothing has come from the club and I am thinking about my future definitely.
My first choice is this country, as I like English football - that is why I began playing football.
After Ivory Coast I came here, I don't know any other culture and it is important for me to stay here, I have been here for ten-years.
With Toure's desire to stay in the EPL, he could yet be linked with a move to stay there. Having lived near Manchester for four years, there are a number of clubs that would interest him, and be interested in capturing him.
At his peak he is an exceptional defender. Having played sparingly over the last two seasons he represents a very young 32-year-old, whereas John Terry is a very old 32-year-old having accumulated numerous back injuries.
At 29 years of age, Arjen Robben hardly qualifies as a veteran in terms of age. However, the Dutch international has played over 450 matches at international and club level across four different leagues.
Despite playing over 380 club matches, Robben only once played more than 30 league matches in a season, and that was with PSV Eindhoven in 2002-03.
The 29-year-old is a fragile player and lacks the stamina to demand a position over the course of an entire season. He is also tactically difficult to cater for and can only play in one position and in one way on a consistent basis. In short, Robben is one-dimensional.
The Daily Mail has reported that Robben has been placed on the transfer list by incoming manager Pep Guardiola. This immediately alerted numerous unnamed Premier League clubs according to the same paper.
Many EPL teams would be interested in Robben, but his high wage demands must be taken into account. In this respect, only Newcastle United and possibly Liverpool would be likely to be interested, with the cash rich Cardiff City also a possible destination.
Veterans don't come much older than 68-year-old Jupp Heynckes.
Earlier this year the Bayern Munich manager announced his retirement at the end of the 2012-13 season. However, since then he has guided Munich to to the German league title, the domestic cup and the Champions League Final.
Heynckes is now said to be contemplating not retiring. The Daily Mail is reporting that Chelsea and Manchester City are monitoring his situation closely.
Heynckes moving to either of these two teams is highly unlikely. The veteran of over 1,500 matches across his playing and management career (1,000 in the Bundesliga) is a man of vast experience and football intelligence.
He is known to be bitter over his treatment during Bayern's chase of Guardiola and could yet decide to return to haunt Munich should an alluring Bundesliga post come open (h/t the Sun).
When asked recently of his future after football he quickly retorted (h/t dw.de):
"After 50 years as a player and a coach, I will not become a functionary. That's not my world."
Fighting words from a man who sounds like he isn't close to retiring just yet.
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