flamini rosicky

Free Agent Squad

The 1st July is the official start of the new season. With the last club season a distant memory clubs have been freshening up their squads and releasing player who have come to the end of their contracts. With so many players released what are the options out there. Is it possible to create a squad to compete in the Premier League comprised entirely of free agents? Have a read and see what you think…

*Please note this article was written before Victor Valdes and Mikel Arteta joined Middlesbrough and Manchester City respectively

Goalkeepers

valdes

Undisputed No. 1 is Victor Valdes, the Spanish goalkeeper started his careers at Barcelona and won everything in his time at the Nou Camp. After letting his contract run down Valdes joined Manchester United in January 2015. It was thought fellow Spaniard David de Gea would leave the Red Devils last summer but a proposed transfer to Real Madrid fell through at the last minute. Valdes spent last season on loan to Standard Liege in Belgium, following a dispute with manager Louis van Gaal. Despite van Gaal’s departure Valdes was still released when his contract expired. Back up to Valdes will be provided by the experienced Mark Schwarzer. The Australian was on the books at current champions Leicester City, but didn’t make an appearance during their title winning campaign. Further backup is provided in the form of veteran Steve Harper. After 20 years at Newcastle United the goalkeeper spent two years with Hull City before signing for Sunderland last season.

Defenders

toure

Kolo Toure was released by Liverpool despite appearing regularly at the end of last season following Mamadou Sakho’s suspension, often in preference to Martin Skrtel. Toure will be joined by Martin Demichelis.martin-demichelis The 35-year-old made over 100 appearances for Manchester City, helping them to three trophies in his three years at the club. Alternatives at centre back come in the form of Brede Hangeland, who spent the last two years at Crystal Palace having left Fulham after the Cottagers were relegated from the Premier League, and Steven Taylor, who departed Newcastle United after making 268 appearances in 13 years at the club. Taylor’s former United teammate, Jose Enrique, offers experience at left back despite being frozen out by Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool last season. Former Chelsea Academy graduate Kevin Wright offers youthful enthusiasm having won the FA Youth Cup and the Under-21 Premier League in his time at the club. At right back Joey O’Brien was released by West Ham after five years at the club while while Tony Hibbert has spent his career on Merseyside with Everton.

 

Midfielders

flamini rosicky

Former Arsenal trio Mikel Arteta, Tomas Rosicky and Mathieu Flamini come with vast experience at the highest level. Arteta and Rosicky have been plagued by injuries with the latter forced out of the Czech Republic’s Euro 2016 squad with a thigh strain. Other options in central midfield include former Arsenal trainee Steve Sidwell who has played in the Premier League with Chelsea, Aston Villa and Stoke. Nick Powell was signed by Manchester United as a promising youngster from Crewe Alexandra and despite not fulfilling his potential is only 22 years old and has represented England at all youth levels up to under 21 level. Like Tony Hibbert Leon Osman spent his entire career with Everton before being released this summer despite never considered a regular Osman has put in some impressive performances in an Everton shirt and received a call up to England in 2013. Osman’s former Everton teammate Steven Pienaar is also available having been released by the Toffees. During his time on Merseyside the South African made up one of the most effective left sided duo alongside Leighton Baines. On the flank other options are provided by Stephane Sessegnon, the tricky midfielder was impressive when he first arrived in England with Sunderland and last season at West Brom he showed occasional flashes to link up well with Saido Berahino and Salomón Rondón.

everton

Forwards

Emmanual Adebayor was released by Crystal Palace following a short spell at the South London club. The Togo international is a player who when on form can be unplayable, anyone able to play for Real Madrid and command a £25m price tag must have some talent. To complement Adebayor’s physical presence Peter Odemwingie offers pace and trickery. The Nigerian has spent time in the Premier League with West Brom, Cardiff and most recently Stoke City. Another player currently available is his international teammate and former colleague at West Brom Victor Anichebe. The former Everton man is as strong as an Ox has made it his trademark to pin defenders before turning and shooting. The last man to make up the squad is former Liverpool man Samed Yeşil, the 22-year-old represented Germany up to under-19 level. He was particularly successful in their under-17 team, whom he helped become runners-up in the European Championship and third place at the World Cup in 2011.

adebayor

frank de boer

Marching into the Saint’s Manager’s Office

Following Ronald Koeman’s appointment at Everton Southampton are looking for their fourth manager in less than four years. Koeman left the club in a healthy condition following a sixth place finish in the Premier League, the Saints highest ever, and a record 63 points. Despite this the former Dutch international opted to head to Merseyside to succeed Roberto Martinez as Everton manager. A recent takeover at Everton by Iranian Farhad Moshiri, and the potential for investment in the squad may have tempted Koeman as last year was the Toffees second successive season finishing outside the top half of the table.

koeman

Continue reading

Scouting for Galacticos

With the European Championships in full swing the best players on the continent are performing on the biggest stage for national glory. As well as the fans the stadiums will be full of scouts looking for their club’s next signing. While some will be looking for an unknown quantity or the next hot prospect Real Madrid will be looking for their next Galactico.

real madrid

Continue reading

Best Premier League Transfer – 2015/16

Dimitri Payet

West Ham’s final season at the Boleyn Ground began in July with the Hammers participating in the qualifying rounds of the Europa League following entry via the Fair Play League. Slaven Bilic arrived to replace Sam Allardyce and made a number of changes in the playing staff. Among those to arrive was Dimitri Payet from Marseille. The playmaker cost West Ham £11.25m but the fee has been worth it as Payet hit the ground running in England straight away. Beginning with an assist in an opening day victory at the Emirates and scoring five goals by November the French international fast became the star man in a promising season for the Hammers. However, an injury caused by a reckless challenge from James McCarthy against Everton forced Payet out of action for two months. By the time he returned speculation was mounting the Payet may become the latest player to be lured to China for big wages. West Ham ended rumours of departure by agreeing an improved contract for the midfielder to remain in East London. Returning from injury Payet maintained his excellent form with a couple of spectacular free kicks against Blackburn Rovers and Manchester United, making him the most feared set piece taker in the Premier League since Cristiano Ronaldo. Overall Payet has scored 12 goals for West Ham, and assisted 12 more. This form was acknowledged with a nomination for the PFA Player of the Award and a place in the PFA Team of the Year. With a record Premier League points total and the possibility of European football next year West Ham will be positive about moving to the Olympic Stadium with their talismanic playmaker.

West Ham United v Chelsea - Premier League

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 24: Dimitri Payet of West Ham United during the Barclays Premier League match between West Ham United and Chelsea at Boleyn Ground on October 24, 2015 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

N’Golo Kante

With odds of 5,000-1 no one could have predicted Leicester City’s rise to the top of English football. 12 months ago the team just survived relegation following a remarkable run of form. However, it wasn’t enough for Nigel Pearson to keep his job and the Thai owners decided to appoint Claudio Ranieri as his replacement. Optimism was in short supply but the Italian kept the formula which had allowed the Foxes to escape the drop the previous season. One key change was the transfer of N’Golo Kante from SM Caen for £6.75m. With Leicester playing 4-4-2 a great deal is expected of the central midfielders who are usually outnumbered, Kante has built an impressive partnership with Danny Drinkwater in what has become the most settled line up in the league. The diminutive midfielder is crucial in the Foxes style of play and has topped the number of tackles won across Europe’s top five leagues. Despite his defensive work Kante has also broken into the attack to contribute with four assists and one goal, a crucial 2-1 home victory over Watford in December. For a player that was competing in third tier of French football three years ago Kante’s rise has been phenomenal. His efforts with Leicester have alerted the French National Team for whom the midfielder made his debut this year and will look to play in his homeland at Euro 2016 this summer. Despite being the unsung hero, behind teammates Jamie Vardy and Riyadh Mahrez, his peers have recognised the 25-year old’s contribution with a place in the PFA Team of the Year. With Leicester within touching distance of the title and assured Champions League football next season there is speculation that the top sides in Europe are looking to capture Kante from the Foxes. A £20m release clause in his contract will surely tempt Manchester United, Arsenal or PSG to make a move for the hardworking defensive midfielder.

N’Golo Kante

Petr Cech

When Thibault Courtois returned from a loan spell at Atletico Madrid last summer Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho had to choose between the Belgium goalkeeper and current incumbent, Petr Cech. Mourinho opted for the younger as his first choice and after almost a decade as undisputed No. 1 at Chelsea Cech had to accept a place on the bench. After making only seven league appearances during the Blues Championship winning campaign the Czech international knew he would have to look elsewhere for more regular first team football. As expected for a goalkeeper of his calibre there was high demand across Europe to secure Cech’s services. Mourinho would have preferred Cech moved abroad, potentially to PSG but the goalkeeper didn’t want to uproot his young family. Owner Roman Abrahmovic personally gave Cech his backing and authorised a move across London to rivals Arsenal. For £10m Arsene Wenger had secured a quality goalkeeper, ousting Wojciech Szczęsny and David Ospina. Cech’s competitive debut was made against the club he’d just left, in a 1-0 win to secure the Community Shield. However, the 33-year old’s league debut didn’t go to plan as he misjudged a free kick to allow Cheikhou Kouyate to score the opening goal as the Gunners went down 2-0 to West Ham. Cech’s successor at Chelsea didn’t have it any better getting sent off in their opening day draw at home to Swansea. That result, and Mourinho’s touchline antics, set the tone for the West London club for the worst title defence in Premier League history. Although injuries can’t be accounted for Cech would surely have received more game time at Chelsea had he stayed. However, with the turmoil at Stamford Bridge the veteran wouldn’t have regretted moving on. In a bittersweet season for Arsenal calls for Arsene Wenger’s departure and another last 16 exit in the Champions League were balanced by pipping Tottenham on the final day and securing a runner’s up spot, the club’s highest finish in 11 years. On a personal level Cech’s 16 Premier League clean sheets won him the Golden Gloves award for a joint record fourth time. Despite falling short against this year Arsenal fans will hope the Gunners can go one step further and win the title again, and with the calming influence of Cech they may get to end their wait.

Petr Cech

lallana
ozil

Hard work – you get what you put it

At the halfway stage of this topsy-turvy Premier League season one of the themes to take away is that hard work is certainly paying off. This might seem pretty obvious and the least fans expect from players earning vast fortunes each week but the success or Leicester City and the struggles of Chelsea have bought effort, desire and commitment to the fore this season. Here are a few examples of players who’ve always put in 100% for their team.

ozil

Continue reading

Mauricio Pochettino conceded Tottenham found it difficult to cope with Burnley's style of play

Mauricio Pochettino – Future England Manager?

The highlight of last November’s England international matches against Spain and France was the debuts of Eric Dier and Dele Alli. Despite a 2-0 defeat against the 2010 World Cup winners in Alicante both Tottenham Hotspur youngsters came off the bench to make win their first international caps. Four days later both made their first starts for the Three Lions in a sombre 2-0 win over France at Wembley. Alli capped his performance with a superbly taken goal past his Spurs teammate Hugo Lloris. The North London side were well represented with Harry Kane, Kyle Walker and Ryan Mason also included in the England squad. With this young, vibrant Tottenham squad progressing well is it possible Mauricio Pochettino could be a candidate to succeed Roy Hodgson when the current incumbent moves on?

england

Continue reading