We across the footballing world half expected the transfer market to light up after Euro 2012, but somewhere in between the ludicrous release clauses and the introduction of Financial Fair Play we have seen relatively little activity this summer. Thus, The Whole Twelve Yards has decided to craft its very own budget eleven, showing a blend of the best potential deals and those done so far from British football.
Goalkeeper: Craig Gordon
Just five years ago, Craig Gordon became the most expensive goalkeeper in the history of British football, costing Sunderland £9 million from Hearts. After 139 appearances for the Edinburgh side, he made his way south of the border (just) and notched up top displays for the black cats. Linked with Arsenal, Manchester United and Aston Villa in 2006 and nominated by STV for Scotland’s Greatest Ever Football Team in 2010, his talent is undoubted. After a series of injuries, he always seemed to regain his spot as #1 at the Stadium of Light, but with the emergence of Belgian Simon Mignolet, Craig Gordon was released in May of this year. At 29 years old and a free agent, he represents an experienced and young stopper with minimal costs involved, it is no surprise he has been linked to Arsenal to challenge Wojciech Szczesny for the #1 spot in North London.
Defender: Jose Bosingwa
Jose Bosingwa’s club honours looks a lot healthier than most who have graced the professional game, with four Portuguese titles, two Champions Leagues, three FA Cups and a Premier League medal occupying his mantelpiece. His attacking ability has always been praised and was able to return to the first team set up at Chelsea after a season long injury in 2009. In recent season’s he has been criticised for his defensive discipline but this criticism is often overstated (simply because he is being compared to the much more defensive minded Ivanovic). Another free agent, Bosingwa is still looking for a club after his contract expired and though wages may be an issue for a lot of clubs, the fact he commands no transfer fee is a big selling point for the Portuguese wing back.
Defender: Carlos Cuellar
The vastly experienced Spaniard is only 30 years old, many presuming he is older and can play anywhere across the back line. With European experience a plenty at Osasuna, Rangers and Aston Villa, it is no surprise he will be reunited with former manager Marin O’Neill at Sunderland. He fell out of favour under McCleish at Villa Park, though many of the Villa faithful considered him a preferable option to Alan Hutton at right back. His contract expired in May of 2012 at the Midlands club, and his acquisition by the Black Cats may well be one of the most frugal of the transfer season.
Defender: Nathaniel Clyne
Clyne made his senior debut at just 17 years old for Palace and has gone on to make 123 senior appearances for the club. Despite now being just 21 years old, Clyne has experience beyond his years, picking up Crystal Palace’s Players of the Year award in the 2010-11 season. He has represented England throughout youth levels and his move to newly promoted Southampton after his contract expiring is likely to prove a success. Though a compensation fee will have to be paid due to his age and nationality, is will likely be far less than his actual worth, considering the inflation of prices of young English talent.
Defender: Fabio Aurelio
Brazilian born Aurelio plays as a traditional Brazilian wing back, or ‘lateral’, being able to play at left back or at left wing equally comfortably. After a successful season with Valencia in 2003-2004, winning La Liga and the UEFA cup, Aurelio signed for Liverpool after his contract expired under Rafa Benitez. In an injury ridden six years, Aurelio made just 87 appearances, but was always able to establish himself as first choice left back after coming back from injuries. In 2010 he rejected a pay as you play offer, but following a change of manager to Roy Hodgson, he was offered a new contract at Merseyside, a testament to his evident talent. Though Jose Enrique’s arrival has meant Aurelio is surplus to requirements, he could still be a useful squad player for many Premier League sides this season.
Midfielder: Salomon Kalou
Jose Mourinho once praised Salomon Kalou as being hardworking, versatile, eager to improve and unafraid of the physical game. The Ivorian and former Chelsea man made 254 appearances for the West London side, bagging 60 goals in the process. Flexible, being able to occupy either wing spot or the playmaker role, it always seemed that the potential was there but was never able to formulate into a successful and consistent run of games in recent seasons at Chelsea, always being edged out of the squad by the next superstar signing. At 26, this is a player with a wealth of international experience just about to hit his prime and as a free agent at the start of the summer; he was unsurprisingly linked to many top clubs across Europe, opting to take Eden Hazard’s number 10 jersey at Lille.
Midfielder: Andrei Arshavin
The little Russian has had a mixed time at the Emirates after signing for a club record fee of €15 million in the winter of 2009. With 23 goals in just under 100 appearances for the club, he has certainly made his mark both on the pitch and by developing a cult following off it (mainly due to his ridiculous laugh and askandrei section of his website), but a tactical shift out to the flanks of the pitch has seen his influence in Arsenal’s game plan drastically decrease. A loan move to his home club of Zenit St. Petersburg and his Euro 2012 performance showed that when played centrally behind the front line and with more freedom, he was still capable of the solid performances that earned him his move to North London. A fee of £6 million would be able to tempt the Gunners to sell, but with the difficulty of moving on stars from the Emirates, perhaps he could be released for even less.
Midfielder: Mohamed Diame
Affectionately known as ‘Momo’, the defensive midfielder from Senegal started his career in Spain before moving to Wigan in the summer of 2009. Though being a fringe player for large parts of his stay, he burst to life in Wigan’s extraordinary comeback in the latter half of the 2011-2012 season, playing a box to box role in Martinez’s Italian inspired 3-4-3 formation. Used to great success, the media linked him with Chelsea once his contract was expiring. However, a move to newly promoted side West Ham seems a touch more appropriate, where he will undoubtedly get more game time ahead of Senegal’s 2013 African Cup of Nations campaign.
Midfielder: Junior Hoilett
The signing of Junior Hoilett by QPR appears to be one of the more financially sound moves of their summer business so far. As with Nathaniel Clyne, a compensation fee will be paid by the club to Blackburn for the 22 year old, but as a young, home grown and exciting attacker it is only a fraction of his potential value. Able to choose to play for both Canada and England, he had his breakthrough season last season, being a rare glimpse of joy for Blackburn fans alongside Yakubu. He can play on the wing or in the front line, and was named by FIFA as one of 13 players to watch in 2012. There was plenty of speculation that Hoilett could be Borussia Monchengladbach’s first choice replacement for Marco Reus, so QPR tempting Hoilett away from Champions League football shows both QPR’s ambition and Hoilett’s potential equally.
Striker: Dimitar Berbatov
Just four years ago, Berbatov became Manchester United’s club record signing at £30 million. Four years later, he releases a statement on his Facebook page saying he would be allowed to leave for a mere £5 million. The 31 year old is probably looking at his last major contract of his footballing career, but could still represent extremely good value for many clubs across the continent. His bizarre dropping for Michael Owen in United’s Champions League final against Barcelona signalled the end of Berbatov, despite lifting the golden boot that season alongside Carlos Tevez. With a drop in form from Hernandez, it is rather surprising that he hasn’t featured more often in Manchester. Linked with Bayern Munich in the January transfer window and a host of clubs this summer, the Bulgarian could prove to be a huge hit in any of the European major leagues next season.
Striker: Emmanuel Adebayor
At 28, Adebayor is likely to be hitting his peak as a footballer over the next couple of years and with experience at Monaco, Arsenal, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Tottenham he has proved himself to be a top level striker across all of Europe. Ousted from Eastlands due to an overpopulated striker department, it was thought previously that Manchester City would look for just £5 million for their target man, but due to his wage demands they may be willing to wave a fee altogether to make the move plausible. Although talks have stalled, Tottenham still looks the most likely destination. After scoring 17 goals in 33 appearances for the North London side and also being in double figures for assists, Villas-Boas will be looking to bolster his attacking options. The return of the Togolese man to White Hart line would be something very few Spurs fans would protest.
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