English Football: 10 Veteran Players Who Need a Bigger Club for the New Season
In English football this summer is all about one thing: the transfer window. Talk naturally turns to transfers with the Premier League on hiatus and none of the home nations involved in competitive action. Whether you love it or hate it, nothing fills column inches quite like the transfer window at this time of year, especially after such a high-spending January window.
Phil Jones and Jordan Henderson have already made big money moves, and with the likes of Alexis Sanchez and Neymar linked with English moves it’s safe to assume that Premier League sides won’t be shy of splashing the cash as the window progresses.
It’s easy to get caught-up in the hysteria of David De Gea’s move to Man United or the debate on whether or not Connor Wickham is worth the £12m Sunderland could end-up paying for him, but what about the less-glamorous deals? So intense is the enthusiasm generated by multi-million pound deals for young prospects that the futures of older, less-celebrated players often get lost in the shuffle.
A host of veteran talent will be on the move this summer. Plenty of the game’s elder statesmen will be looking for one last big transfer pre-retirement, and their futures are just as worthy of reportage as those of Henderson, Jones and De Gea. Here are 11 players aged 30 or over who could use a move to a bigger club to kick-start their careers.
Bobby Zamora (Fulham)
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Injury might have restricted him to just 17 appearances last term but Bobby Zamora is better than he’s ever been. Reaching his peak in the 2009-10 season (scoring 19 goals in 48 games), Zamora has been rewarded for this fine form with an England cap in 2010 and will surely be on the fringes of Fabio Capello’s squad for the next couple of seasons.
It could be argued that Zamora has found his level but the improvement he’s shown over the past couple of season shows that he’s clearly capable of playing for a bigger club.
A burly forward who excels at bringing others into play and has finally found his scoring touch in the Premier League, Zamora is never likely to play regularly for a top four side but he could do a job for just about any other Premier League side.
It’s likely that Zamora will choose to see his career out at Fulham, but he’ll need to move to a bigger club if he’s to be remembered as anything more than a solid mid-table player.
Barry Ferguson (Birmingham City)
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Ferguson isn’t the most exotically named player in England and his playing style is far from eye-catching but he’s a far better player than most give him credit for.
He’ll never be the type to grab the headlines with a stunning goal or a defence-splitting assist, but Ferguson is very adept at winning the ball, maintaining possession and keeping his side’s midfield play ticking. The former Scotland captain has been a deceptively important player for Birmingham, even in their relegation season.
Ferguson would be an excellent player for Birmingham in the Championship but it’s likely that the ex-Rangers man has his sights set higher. His limited mobility and lack of incisive attacking passes mean he’ll never be a top-level Premier League player, but he could slot into just about any lower-half side’s midfield and do a job.
Jussi Jaaskelainen (Bolton Wanderers)
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Jussi Jaaskelainen is a Bolton Wanderers legend. Signed for a nominal fee in 1997, the evergreen Fin has made over 500 appearances for the Trotters and is a huge fan-favourite.
He’s hardly missed a Premier League game since signing, and will surely go down in Bolton’s record books as one of the club’s all-time greatest players.
At 36, however, he is starting to decline. Jussi only has another couple of years at the top, and with the impressive Ali Al-Habsi’s proposed Wigan transfer stalling he could find himself usurped as Bolton’s number one this coming season.
Having been linked with such clubs as Man United and Real Madrid in his prime, Jussi has been a loyal servant to Bolton and deserves to go out on-top.
Aston Villa are allegedly looking for a replacement for the outgoing Brad Friedel this summer: they could do a lot worse than taking a punt on the reliable Fin.
Keith Southern (Blackpool)
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Charlie Adam may have been the player to grab all the headlines for Blackpool last season, but would he have achieved the same levels of success without David Vaughan and Keith Southern? Absolutely not.
It was Vaughan’s energy and dynamism and Southern’s defensive solidity that allowed Adam’s creative freedom further up the field. Adam would’ve been lost without his partners, and their contrasting attributes meshed to make one of the Premier League’s most balanced midfields last season.
Southern has only just turned 30 so calling him a “veteran” is a bit of a stretch, but the Gateshead native is an experienced professional who’s made over 300 career appearances.
Having demonstrated last season that he can be an effective Premier League role-player, Southern can expect to be the subject of at least a couple of EPL bids this summer.
Eidur Gudjohnsen (Stoke City)
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Quite why Stoke City decided signing Gudjohnsen would be a good idea is anyone’s guess.
A quality player for Chelsea and a key squad member for Barcelona, the Icelandic hitman has an excellent record. His excellent technical qualities make him an ideal second striker and few players are better at linking midfield and attack than Eidur in his prime.
Gudjohsen’s playing style is so at-odds with Stoke’s long ball/set piece based system that its little wonder he failed make an impact at the Britannia. One can only assume that Tony Pulis just wanted to add another six-footer to his squad.
Having struggled at Monaco and Stoke (via Tottenham and Fulham) since leaving Barcelona, Gudjohsen isn’t exactly a hot property at the moment. A player like him, however, should be able to play well into his 30’s.
Pace, acceleration and stamina tend to decline much faster than technique, and Gudjohsen’s footballing brain is surely as sharp as ever. He’s struggled for appearances over the past couple of seasons, but Eidur is far too intelligent a player to find himself on the scrapheap at 32.
Robert Green (West Ham United)
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Poor old Rob Green. Once touted as the solution to England’s post-Seaman goalkeeping problem, the former Norwich man has enduring a nightmarish 12 months.
As if conceding a fumbled Clint Dempsey trundler in the World Cup wasn’t enough, West Ham endured a torrid Premier League campaign and were relegated with games to spare.
Playing behind one of the most shambolic defences in the league didn’t help matter, but Green made a handful of mistakes throughout a season that will surely go down as his worst as a professional.
Still, he’s not a bad ‘keeper by any stretch of the imagination. Green is too good a player to languish in the Championship and his superb shot-stopping skills would benefit a number of Premier League sides.
At 32 Green is still young for his position and has plenty of time to right the wrongs of the past 12 months. Whether or not he has the mental fortitude to do this, however, is a different matter all together.
Craig Bellamy (Manchester City)
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Though Bellamy is still technically a Man City player he’s clearly not in Roberto Mancini’s plans and spent the entirety of last season on-loan at Cardiff. For this reasons, his place on this list is justified.
Even though he’ll be 32 by the time the season starts, Bellamy is still a fantastic player. Physicality forms the basis of his playing style and it'll only be a couple of years before he starts his true decline, but the Welshman is as hard-working and tenacious as ever.
His presence in Cardiff's attack was a big reason for the Bluebirds' success this season, and they'd surely have done a lot better in the play-offs had he not been injured.
Bellamy will likely never play for a top five club again, but playing for Cardiff is way below his level despite his apparent happiness in Wales. As effective as he was in his last full Man City season, Bellamy is surely still capable of performing in the Premier League.
Wages might be a stumbling block, but taking a punt on Craig Bellamy would be a worthwhile endeavour for any mid/lower level Premier League side.
Jimmy Bullard (Hull City)
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Let's not beat around the bush: Jimmy Bullard's injury record is absolutely appalling. In the past five years he's played in under 50 percent of his club's league games (for Hull and Fulham), but he did manage to turn things around this season with a productive four-month loan spell at Ipswich.
A succession of bad knee injuries have taken their toll on the likeable midfielder, but Bullard's talents are considerable.
Chances are that when you hear the name “Jimmy Bullard” the first things you think of are the goals he's scored. Jimmy Bullard doesn't score boring goals: he scores thunderbolts. But these stunning drives shouldn't mas the full range of his attributes: Bullard is a dynamic box-to-box player whose surges in the final third and quick, incisive passing make him a very well-rounded midfielder.
His wage demands may have scuppered a permanent Ipswich switch, but Bullard, perhaps for entertainment value alone, deserves another couple of seasons in the Premier League before he retires. Perhaps a Michael Owen-esque pay-as-you-play deal could be on the cards.
Shay Given (Manchester City)
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Shay Given's Manchester City dream has turned into a nightmare. Having made the switch to Eastlands in search of silverware and glory, Given has found himself playing second-fiddle to Joe Hart in his second full season with the Citizens.
Sure, City might have won the FA Cup this season, but Given made just a single appearance (in the League Cup) last season. This can't have been what he had in-mind when he left relegation-threatened Newcastle.
It's a shame to see such a talented goalkeeper sitting on the bench. The Irishman was arguably the Premier League's finest shot stopper in his heyday, and he really shouldn't be finished at 35. A rumoured transfer to Arsenal last season didn't come-off, but Arsene Wenger could do a lot worse than turning to the veteran Given this year to help nurture the impressive Wojciech Szczesny.
Time is running out for Given. He's never going to displace Joe Hart as City's number one at this stage: he simply has to move if he's to achieve the glory he so yearns for.
Scott Parker (West Ham United)
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Scott Parker should be one of England's most in-demand players at the moment. West Ham might have been relegated, but that shouldn't take the sheen off their vice-captain's performances.
The 2010-11 FWA Footballer of the Season had a career-best year and won countless accolades for his gutsy performances in the Hammers' midfield. Parker, quite simply, is far, far too good to be playing in the second tier next season.
Harry Redknapp tried to bring Parker to Spurs last summer and it's perfectly conceivable that he'll try to do the same again (as soon as he's shipped Wilson Palacios out). West Ham's relegation has significantly weakened their bargaining position, and the Hammers will surely sell their figurehead as soon as a big offer comes in.
At 30 Parker still has plenty of years ahead of him. His time at Chelsea was an abject failure, but Parker has improved leaps and bounds since his premature Stamford Bridge transfer and is currently playing at the top of his game. His services won't come cheap, but he'd be a valuable asset to most Premier League sides.