There will be numerous English Premier League clubs looking to strengthen their squads over the summer in time for the kickoff of the 2015/16. The majority of the mediocre and poor teams don’t have the revenue to spend millions of pounds on transfer fees and wages, so they’ll attempt to pick up useful players on free transfers. Basically, this is soccer’s version of free agency. There are reportedly 81 Premier League players who will be out of contract at the end of the current campaign and they’ll be free to sign with any club they choose, unless they re-sign with their clubs before the end of June.
Quite a few of these free agents are veterans who are well past their prime while others are youngsters who haven’t proven themselves as of yet. However, there are a few internationals who could be worth taking a gamble on, especially since they can be signed for nothing. Each Premier League manager should be looking over the list of players available to see if any of them will fit into their future plans. Players of all positions are available this summer and some of them are bound to be offered contracts by Premier League squads.
However, there will also be several prodigies and journeymen who will receive offers from the lower division teams only. Some of this year’s crop of free agents likely won’t be offered a contract at all and this may lead a few of them, such as Queens Park Rangers’ Rio Ferdinand, to retire. After looking through the list of more than six dozen players available, these are the top 10 English Premier League free agents this summer in the upcoming transfer window.
10 Luke Garbutt - Everton
English Under-21 international defender Luke Garbutt of Everton has yet to make a name for himself in the Premier League, but at the moment it looks like he has quite a bit of potential. He could develop into a full international left back with the right coaching and enough playing time. Everton has discussed re-signing him, but so far the two sides haven’t come to terms on a new deal. One of the newly-promoted Premier League clubs such as Watford or Bournemouth may be interested in the 21-year-old and there’s a good chance he’ll leave Goodison Park to get some regular playing time in. Garbutt joined the Toffees on Merseyside back in 2011 and has played in just four Premier League games for the side. He’s also spent a couple of years out on loan.
9 Abou Diaby - Arsenal
Most Arsenal fans have forgotten about injury-prone midfielder Abou Diaby and it’s almost certain that the club will have no interest at all in re-signing him. While the Frenchman is only 29 years old, he’s not worth his paycheque if he’s continuously in the infirmary. The Gunners have gotten along just fine without him the past couple of years and will continue to do so without him. He’s still just 29 years old, but most clubs will likely shy away from him due to his injury problems. However, some team might want to sign him on a pay-as-you-play deal. This would see him take home a weekly cheque only when he’s healthy enough to play. He joined Arsenal back in 2006 and has appeared in just 14 games a season on average since then.
8 Mathieu Flamini - Arsenal
French midfielder Mathieu Flamini rejoined Arsenal two years ago and while he was given a lot of responsibility and playing time by manager Arsene Wenger at first, he’s mainly been a benchwarmer this season. He’s a defensive midfielder who has lost his spot to Francis Coquelin and the writing is basically on the wall for the veteran. Wenger is also interested in French international midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin of Southampton and he needs to clear up some room. Therefore, look for the 31-year-old Flamini to leave the Gunners this summer. He still has a few decent years left in him and don’t be surprised if he leaves the Premier League altogether and signs with a team on the continent. He could even find himself back at Marseille, his former club.
7 Tom Cleverley - Manchester United
The English international midfielder is under contract to Manchester United, but he isn’t a favorite of manager Louis van Gaal and was sent out on loan with Aston Villa for the 2014/15 season. It’s highly doubtful that Van Gaal will change his mind about the 25-year-old, so it looks like he definitely won’t be back at Old Trafford in August. He might not be with Villa either if the Birmingham-based club is relegated to the English Championship League at the conclusion of the current season. Cleverley needs to play Premier League football if he hopes to keep his international career alive. If Villa stays afloat in the top flight then there’s a good chance Cleverley will re-sign with the team if he’s offered a contract.
6 Micah Richards - Manchester City
English right-back Micah Richards has become a forgotten man to most Manchester City and Premier League fans since he’s spent the 2014/15 season on loan with Fiorentina of the Italian Serie A. Richards appeared to have a bright future with club and country a few years ago and at the age of 26 he could still live up to his potential. If he can stay healthy and get back to his top form he should attract some interest from several clubs. City could be tempted to re-sign him as they need to meet their quote of homegrown players, especially if midfielder James Milner leaves as the end of the campaign.
5 Didier Drogba - Chelsea
Former Ivory Coast scoring machine Didier Drogba is now 37 years old, but he could be a useful player for one of the lower-to-middle table teams that have problems scoring. He may not score as often as he used to, but he’s still a big, physical presence on the pitch. Drogba could possibly be given another year-long contract by manager Jose Mourinho for sentimental reasons, especially since the Blues won the league title this season. There’s also a good chance Drogba won’t want to play for any other Premier League squad. This means if he’s not offered a new deal at Stamford Bridge he could head to another European league or hang up his boots after a long and distinguished career. .
4 Ron Vlaar - Aston Villa
Dutch defender Ron Vlaar is another Aston Villa player who will likely leave the club if its relegated, much like Tom Cleverley. The 30-year-old still plays for Holland’s national team so he still has something to offer. There have been rumours circulating in England that Manchester United is interested in the experienced central defender, but United manager Louis van Gaal appears to be interested in any and all players who hail from his native country. Therefore, if Villa is relegated Vlaar will almost certainly be on the move this summer.
3 James Milner - Manchester City
James Milner is a 29-year-old English international midfielder who is loved by some fans and loathed by others. He has a fine work rate, but his eye and aim around the opposition goal needs to improve before he sways the disbelievers. There’s a good chance Manchester City will re-sign him since the club needs to meet its homegrown-player requirement. Milner joined City from Aston Villa back in 2010 and it’s hard to believe that he’s already played 13 seasons in the top flight and has won a couple of league titles. However, Milner has publicly stated that he’s a lot happier when he’s a regular starter and it’s believed he could be offered that role with Liverpool.
2 Danny Ings - Burnley
Forward Danny Ings of Burnley FC already knows the fate of the club as it’s been relegated after just one season in the Premier League. Ings has proven that he can perform at score at England’s top level as he netted 10 league goals and four assists this campaign. In fact, the 23-year-old looked so impressive it led to many fans and pundits calling for him to be selected to the English national side by manager Roy Hodgson. It’s no secret that Ings wants to continue his career in the Premier League and it’s also a well-known fact that Liverpool is interested in him. The Reds should have room for a goalscorer since it looks like the Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert experiments have been a flop. In addition, top goalscorer Daniel Sturridge misses more games than he plays due to a variety of injuries.
1 Glen Johnson - Liverpool
Glen Johnson is another solid England international who will likely sign for a new club this summer. The 30-year-old Liverpool defender has also suffered from injury problems over the past few years and his attacking skills means he would make a good midfielder. He still has a few good years left in him, but it’s believed Liverpool want him to take a pay cut if they re-sign him and he’s not too thrilled about that. He’s been with the Reds for the past half dozen years and should attract interest from several Premier League and European clubs. But while he can be acquired on a free transfer, it’s going to cost his new employers quite a bit in weekly wages. Leading the way in the rumour department when it comes to clubs who’d like him are West Ham United and Italian Serie A side AS Roma.