Today will see dozens of top-class players officially become free agents in the summer transfer window. We take a look at some of the individuals who are up for grabs.
PATRICK VIEIRA (released by Manchester City)
A true great of the Premier League era with Arsenal, Vieira returned to England in January 2010 following almost five years in Italy with Juventus and Inter Milan. Though not a regular starter at City, the 35-year-old added a winning mentality to the club, and he played an important role in the team’s FA Cup-winning campaign last season. It was City’s first major trophy since 1976, and a fitting way for Vieira to end his short stint in Manchester. The midfielder still provides solid cover for his defence and proved he still has the appetite for the big occasion.
OWEN HARGREAVES (released by Manchester United)
A player with undoubted talent, who rarely gets the chance to show it due to a catalogue of injury problems. After being England’s best performer at the 2006 World Cup, Hargreaves joined United for a reported £17m a year later. The midfielder’s first season was a success, winning the Premier League and Champions League, but the following year signalled the start of the injury jinx. He would only play four matches in his final three seasons at United, before boss Alex Ferguson told him his time at the club was over. At his best, Hargreaves would cover every blade of grass for his team, and when fit, he is a valuable asset to any side. Someone could yet take a chance on him based on past form.
MATTHEW UPSON (released by West Ham)
Having joined Arsenal in 1997, Upson learned from the stalwarts of the Gunners defence in Tony Adams, Martin Keown and Steve Bould. The centre-back then moved to Birmingham, where his solid displays led to his England debut against South Africa in 2003. The ex-West Ham captain could do little to prevent his side’s relegation to the Championship last season and left the club with the view to getting a move back to the Premier League.
DAVID VAUGHAN (released by Blackpool)
Charlie Adam may have stolen the headlines for Blackpool last season, but Vaughan was equally impressive. Boss Ian Holloway claimed Vaughan was arguably their best player in their one-year stop in the Premier League as the midfielder epitomised Blackpool’s free-flowing style of football. Vaughan has rejected a new contract offer, stating his desire to remain at the highest level. Wolves, West Brom, Sunderland and QPR are interested in the 28-year-old.
JOHN CAREW(released by Aston Villa)
With Darren Bent proving an instant hit at Villa Park, the Birmingham side have deemed Carew surplus to requirements. The Norwegian was on loan at Stoke for the second half of last season and although he looked threatening at times, a back injury prevented him from making a real impact. At 6ft 4ins, the 31-year-old is a handful for any defence.
ANDY REID(released by Blackpool)
Ian Holloway called for the Crumlin native when he looked set to lose Adam on transfer deadline day, but when the Scot ended up staying at Bloomfield Road, the new man found himself consigned to the bench. Reid only played five times for the Tangerines, with just two starts, as his dramatic fall from grace continued. Barely 18 months ago he was in tip-top shape and starring for Steve Bruce’s Sunderland, but a series of hamstring injuries began a spiral that sees him unattached this summer.
JONATHAN WOODGATE(released by Tottenham)
Another undoubtedly talented player whose career has been hampered by injuries. The centre-back made only four appearances in his last two seasons at Spurs due to a long string of setbacks. Despite his difficulties, Woodgate will always be remembered by the White Hart Lane faithful for scoring the winning goal in the 2008 Carling Cup triumph over Chelsea. Turning only 31 this year, clubs could be tempted to sign the former Leeds defender if he can be persuaded to accept a pay-as-you-play deal.
SOL CAMPBELL(released by Newcastle)
The only man to match Ryan Giggs in playing in all 19 Premier League campaigns, Campbell was a bit-part player in keeping the Magpies in the top flight last season. Now 36, the centre-back’s best days are behind him, having had great success with Tottenham, Arsenal, Portsmouth and England. Despite the lack of games, Campbell can still play a role for sides looking for experience and leadership in their back line.
LEE CARSLEY(released by Coventry)
The experienced midfielder’s second spell with Coventry City came to an end last month with no new contract in the offing. At 35, the Birmingham native’s best years may be behind him, but he was named captain by Aidy Boothroyd when he arrived on a free transfer and played 25 times for the midlanders