The Old Guard: 10 Players Who Might Make Their Final Career Transfer in January
The January transfer window is not all about teenage wunderkinds, up-and-coming stars and young, highly-rated foreign imports. It's about the "old guard" too.
These players have been there, seen it and done it and they can bring valuable experience into any dressing room. For many, a January switch might be their last—one final hurrah before they give in to creaky knees and hang up their boots for good.
Over the following slides, we pick out 10 players who might be making their final career stop in 2014.
Ordered from youngest to oldest, each player must be 30 or above to make the cut.
Who would you like to add to the list? Let us know below!
We begin the slideshow with the youngest of the crop—Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic.
The arrivals of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente over the summer have seen the Montenegro international become increasingly marginalised in Antonio Conte's side.
This season, Vucinic has made just seven league appearances and has only one goal to his name in all competitions. At the same stage last term, the 30-year-old had been sidelined just three times and had scored three times in Serie A.
Unsurprisingly, there are rumours linking him with a move away from the Turin club. This week, the Mirror's Ed Malyon reported that Arsenal have been linked with a move for Vucinic, with Juve seemingly happy to let him leave for £8 million.
Elsewhere, the Daily Mail's Laura Williamson claims that Tottenham Hotspur have considered bringing the forward to White Hart Lane on loan.
The striker has scored almost 200 career goals with West Ham, Tottenham Hotspur and Portsmouth and has 19 goals in 55 caps for England.
Rumour has it that Defoe has already agreed a £90,000-a-week deal with the MLS side, to boost his chances of making it into Roy Hodgson's England squad for the 2014 World Cup.
The 31-year-old has found his first-team opportunities limited at White Hart Lane this season, with summer signing Roberto Soldado and Emmanuel Adebayor preferred ahead of him.
As reported by Jack De Menezes in the Independent, Defoe has been offered a four-year contract at Toronto—who are currently managed by former Blackburn Rovers, Spurs and Queens Park Rangers man Ryan Nelsen.
Famous for his ability to sleep for 14 hours a day, Michael Essien's Chelsea career is currently set to snooze.
Essien made 247 appearances for the Blues in his first stint at the club, and won two Premier League titles, four FA Cups and the 2007 Carling Cup. He was also shortlisted for FIFA World Player of the Year in 2007.
However, injuries have blighted the Ghanaian international in recent years and, at 31, it looks like he's entering the twilight years of his career.
Despite making 35 appearances (in all competitions) for Real Madrid last term, Essien has been largely surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge this season, where he has played just 142 minutes of top-flight football.
His agent Fabian Piveteau recently revealed that Essien might be on his way back to France, where he started his senior career. He told French radio station RMC, via the Telegraph:
He could leave Chelsea this winter. Several major European clubs playing in the Champions League were informed and the situation should settle down within the next 10 days.
You should know that Michael was not on the list of players who can play in the Champions League with Chelsea, so he is free to play in the competition with another club.
Dimitar Berbatov may not be known as the most explosive of players—in fact, if you look up the word "languid" in the dictionary, there will be a picture of him looking right back at you—but the Bulgarian has still managed to put away over 100 goals in England's top flight.
After spending almost eight years in the Premier League, with Spurs, Manchester United and Fulham, respectively, Berbatov could still have one big final move before drawing his career to a close.
In recent days, the striker has been linked with a move to Arsenal. The Independent's Jack De Menezes suggested he could be on his way to the Emirates for as little as £2 million.
If reports are to be believed, Roma's Nicolas Burdisso could be looking for a way out of the Stadio Olimpico in January.
The centre-back has featured in just three games for Rudi Garcia's side this season and has admitted that he might go elsewhere, to try and win a place in Argentina's World Cup squad.
Burdisso was quoted on Skysports.com, as saying:
I will do all I can to be part of the World Cup squad. If necessary, I will even think about leaving Roma. I will decide after Christmas.
But I am very attached to this club and the city. I have a role at Roma and the number of games I play is not the only thing that matters, even if I want to return to the Argentina side.
Injuries have crept up on the 32-year-old in recent years—the Argentine had to sit out most of the 2011/12 season with knee problems and was benched at various points by former manager Zdenek Zeman last term.
Burdisso's current contract runs out next summer and, if he gets a rumoured move to West Ham, as seen on talkSPORT, it will probably be his last.
Ashley Cole's time at Stamford Bridge may be drawing to a close.
The defender, who has been at Chelsea since 2006, is finding himself on the sidelines with increasing regularity, due to Jose Mourinho's preference to use Cesar Azpilicueta at left-back.
The Blues have also been linked with a January move for Southampton's Luke Shaw, as seen in the Guardian.
However unlikely Shaw's arrival may be, it does point to a changing of the guard at Chelsea that could push senior players like Cole towards the exit.
At 33, the England international's next club could be his last. There have been links with Spurs, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain, as reported here by the Express' Colin Harvey.
Elsewhere John Richardson, also of the Express, suggests that Carlo Ancelotti is interested in bringing the defender to Real Madrid.
However, if the Guardian's Dominic Fifield is correct, Cole could still be offered a new contract at Chelsea.
Out of contract in June, Esteban Cambiasso might be leaving Inter Milan this winter.
As the Mirror's Ed Malyon wrote on Thursday, the 33-year-old "faces an uncertain future, where he will either have to agree a massive pay-cut or walk away from the club that's been his home for 10 years."
This comes after new owner Erik Thohir decreed that none of the club's players should be earning over £2.07 million a year, in a bid to trim Inter's wage bill. According to Malyon, the Argentina international earns £3.7 million a year.
Cambiasso is having a good season—he has featured in every single Serie A fixture this term and has bagged four goals and one assist.
The Champions League-winner could be a great, cut-price acquisition in January—Manchester United and Chelsea are said to be on "transfer alert," should Cambiasso depart the San Siro.
Could Tim Cahill be set for one last stint in the Premier League?
Like Seattle Sounders' Clint Dempsey, who returned to Fulham last month, the Australian international has been rumoured to be on his way back to the English top flight, in a bid to keep him fit for the 2014 World Cup.
Cahill moved to the New York Red Bulls in summer 2012, after spending eight years at Everton and there has been talk that the 34-year-old would like to come back.
In November, he was quoted in The Sun, via Skysports.com:
In the last loan period, three or four clubs came in and one was really close to signing me. It was from the Premier League and it went all the way up to the wire. It was to stay fit.
I'm definitely going to get a lot of shouts again now and there will always be people knocking at the door.
But I have to assess where my body's going to be for the next World Cup for Australia and also my fitness leading in Brazil.
The 2014 World Cup will probably be Cahill's last international tournament and this could be his last big move, even if it is just on loan.
However, as recent rumours suggest, the former Manchester United, Villarreal and Atletico Madrid striker could still have one more move to make.
According to Sambafoot.com, Rio de Janeiro side Botafogo are interested in recruiting the Uruguayan, in order to help them with their Copa Libertadores campaign.
Elsewhere, it has been suggested that West Ham are looking to Forlan to ease their injury worries up-front, as reported by Charles Perrin in the Express.
Still in excellent shape, Forlan has scored 22 goals since making the move to Internacional. He scored over 150 strikes during his time with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid and he could be a good acquisition for clubs looking to boost their firepower this season.
West Ham must have a penchant for 34-year-old, South American strikers called Diego, as the player in our previous slide is joined here by Inter Milan's Diego Milito.
The treble-winning Nerazzurri man has just six months to run on his current contract and could find himself forced out of the San Siro, if stories of cost-cutting prove true.
The veteran forward is one of a handful of players who have been linked with a move away from Inter, due to attempts to reduce the club's wage bill, as reported by Ed Malyon in the Mirror.
The 34-year-old has struggled with injuries this term, making just three appearances for Walter Mazzarri's side.
In December, Milito was linked with a move to Upton Park, seen here in the Mirror. The Hammers have struggled for goals this season and currently find themselves perilously close to the bottom of the Premier League, where just one point separates them from Sunderland, in 20th.