The English Premier League's Top 10 Free Summer Transfers
No matter how much the world loves to look on in amazement as football’s biggest clubs spend their billions, there’s a certain sweet spot in every fan’s heart for a penny-pinching deal of the other extreme.
Of course, one can’t get much cheaper than free, and with numerous players coming up to the expiration of their current contracts on July 1, there’s a raft of Bosman transfers waiting to be snapped up.
The Premier League players mentioned herein have either parted ways with their English club or will do in the next three weeks unless an extension is agreed soon.
Ranked according to age, potential, latest performances, expected wage cost, as well as the side with whom they’ve most recently featured, the players mentioned have to be departing a side in the English top flight to warrant inclusion.
Note: Confirmation of all player releases can be viewed on BBC Sport’s transfer guide.
Benayoun during a mixed 2011-12 loan at Arsenal
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One of the Wigan faithful likely to jump ship this summer, the Latics will be sorry to see the departure of Maynor Figueroa, who’s been responsible for a number of sweet moments for the club during their Premier League stay.
Renowned for his set-piece abilities and long-range efforts, the 30-year-old Honduran left-back is bound to draw a raft of interest this summer.
Having spent just one season with Fulham, Mladen Petric’s experience as a Cottager could have been so much richer had the Croatian carried on his season exactly as he started.
Scoring an impressive brace on his Premier League debut, the 32-year-old steadily dissipated into non-existence at Craven Cottage, but he could still be a good pickup for any side looking for forward cover.
In what was a topsy-turvy campaign for the Israeli, Yossi Benayoun started the season at Chelsea, going on loan to former club West Ham, before returning to Stamford Bridge in January and playing just 59 more Premier League minutes.
In truth, the 33-year-old’s best playing days are now firmly behind him, but Benayoun could be worth one last gamble in the English top flight, and while his legs might not still be in great shape, his brain undoubtedly is.
One of the more understated servants in West Ham’s most recent campaign, Gary O’Neil’s versatility and his ability to play just about anywhere in midfield ensures that he still holds worth at the Premier League level.
The 30-year-old was once as respected at Middlesbrough as Stewart Downing which, while not saying a lot these days, is at least indicative of the talent that he’s once displayed in his career.
Another of those veterans being offloaded at Craven Cottage, Chris Baird struggled to really pin down a starting spot for Fulham last season.
That being said, the 31-year-old still holds a reputation as somewhat of a jack-of-all-trades, capable of doing a job just about anywhere in defence as well as in central midfield, making him a commodity of some value, still.
10. Alex Pearce
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Last Club: Reading
At just 24 years of age, Alex Pearce is tied with one other as the youngest free agent to have made our list, and was an unfortunate recipient of Reading’s defeat in the battle against relegation.
However, Pearce is one of those who managed to maintain a fairly rosy image despite his side’s failings, with the Daily Mail’s Graeme Yorke even linking the defender with a move to Anfield.
Should Pearce be deemed worthy of the Reds’ standard, he’ll certainly be one Royal to have made the best out of a bad situation and holds very good sell-on potential given his young age.
9. Jermaine Pennant
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Last Club: Stoke City
Obviously deemed unfit of the Potters’ standard by new Stoke City boss Mark Hughes, Jermaine Pennant headlined the list of those players being allowed to leave the Britannia Stadium this summer.
Formerly of Arsenal, Liverpool, Birmingham City, as well as an odd stint with Real Zaragoza along with others, Pennant’s qualities as a Premier League winger might have dropped, but they are from gone altogether.
Last season, the 30-year-old played just once under Tony Pulis after falling down the pecking order and was loaned to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a portion of the campaign.
8. William Gallas
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Last Club: Tottenham Hotspur
Following a 12-year hop across London’s biggest clubs, William Gallas would seem almost certain to end his stay in the nation’s capital after being let go by Tottenham Hotspur.
Formerly a great defensive figure with Arsenal and Chelsea, too, this isn’t the first period of free agency in the Frenchman’s career, having signed for Spurs in a similar deal.
At 35 years of age, one can argue about just how much longevity there is left in Gallas’ tired legs, but the Premier League veteran has top-flight experience coming out of his ears, at least.
7. Andrei Arshavin
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Last Club: Arsenal
In what’s been one of the stranger falls from grace in the Premier League for some time, Andrei Arshavin has gone from European Championship marvel to Premier League dud all in the space of a few years.
Now 32 years old, the former Zenit St. Petersburg star leaves Arsenal on far less glorious terms than when he signed for the North London outfit, featuring just 11 times for the club last season.
In fact, Arshavin’s only starts last term came in the Capital One Cup, where despite playing in just two games, the Russian star still managed to score one goal and make five assists, showing that he may be worth a punt this summer.
6. Florent Malouda
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Last Club: Chelsea
Another player who’s fallen out majorly with his club is Florent Malouda, who’s featured even less frequently for Chelsea than the aforementioned Arshavin has for Arsenal of late.
In fact, the Frenchman failed to register even a single appearance for the Blues in their last campaign and was, as the Daily Mail report, made to train with the club’s reserves.
Having just turned 33 years of age, Florent Malouda may not be worthy of another long-term deal at the top level and would assuredly have large wage demands.
That said, the veteran has shown huge talent at Stamford Bridge in the past and merely fell victim to the level of competition at the West London outfit, something it’s difficult to blame the midfielder for too much.
5. Mark Schwarzer
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Last Club: Fulham
Anyone of the opinion that Mark Schwarzer is too “seasoned” to cut it at the Premier League level need only be pointed in the direction of Tottenham’s Brad Friedel to see that age really is just a number.
The 40-year-old Australian may not be able to perform the same stops as in his younger days, but with almost 20 years of experience around England’s upper tiers, he most certainly has the wisdom to make any move feasible.
According to Sky Sports, the goalkeeper is said to be “favouring a stay in England” this summer and could still use his vast wisdom to great success.
4. Franco Di Santo
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Last Club: Wigan Athletic
Although both he and Alex Pearce are both 24, Franco Di Santo can actually boast being the youngest player in this ranking, a factor undoubtedly working in his favour this summer.
The Argentine striker managed to score five goals and make five assists for Wigan Athletic last season, in what was ultimately a futile struggle against the drop.
Di Santo managed to make 35 appearances for the Latics in that time, although 11 of those came from the bench and only seven times did the forward actually feature in a full 90 minutes.
Formerly of Chelsea, it’s clear that Di Santo has shown great promise in his budding career, and he will hope to show it again in the near future with a move back to one of Europe’s elite divisions.
3. Roque Santa Cruz
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Last Club: Manchester City
Although the striker arrived at Manchester City for a gargantuan fee of almost £20 million, Roque Santa Cruz has actually spent as much time away from the Etihad Stadium as he has being a player for his parent club.
While a 2011 loan to former side Blackburn Rovers proved fruitless, spells in La Liga with Real Betis and more recently Malaga have proven to reap considerably better results.
Four years after completing his big-money move and having scored eight league goals in 15 starts for Malaga last term, Sky Sports are reporting that Santa Cruz would be willing to take a pay cut in order to remain with the Andalusia club.
Once upon a time, the 31-year-old was one of the most highly rated forwards in the Premier League, and he was once again permitted to show glimpses of that quality in Spain the last two seasons.
Clive Mason/Getty Images
Last Club: Arsenal
A name that’s faded into slight obscurity as far as Premier League fans are concerned, Denilson’s former promise as a future Brazilian legend would appear to have all but faded away these days.
After spending the last two seasons on loan with Sao Paulo, however, the defensive midfielder’s form is once again looking hopeful. While nowhere near the kind of potential displayed prior to his 2006 arrival at Arsenal, Denilson is still only 25 and has time to get what was once looking like a glitzy career back on track.
Tutto Mercato (h/t Inside Futbol) have reported CSKA Moscow as being interested in the free agent’s services, showing that there is still hope for the South American.
1. Danny Simpson
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Last Club: Newcastle United
During his days as a Manchester United youngster, Danny Simpson was farmed out to four clubs in four years before finally finding a place to put roots down at Newcastle United.
Three-and-a-half years later, Simpson’s time as a Magpie has dragged to its end, although not indicative of any drop in standards on behalf of the player.
Instead, it seems the January arrival of Mathieu Debuchy and Alan Pardew’s desire to play a very specific system have resulted in Simpson’s departure from the club.
Last season, the 26-year-old managed four assists in 26 appearances for Newcastle, a decent tally by any full-back’s standards. What’s more, given his current age, it’d be a safe bet that Simpson’s next club is also where he sees the most effective days of his playing career.
According to the Daily Mail, Fulham, West Ham and Torino are all interested in the right-back, hoping to convince the defender that theirs is the right destination for him.