Have boots, will travel: 10 free agents on market this summer

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A host of big-name players’ deals are up. Some are desperate to stay, others have cleared their lockers. Jack Pitt-Brooke looks at where they might be in August

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Bacary Sagna

It would be hard to say that Bacary Sagna was the most prominent man out of contract at Arsenal this summer – that accolade would belong to his manager – but the full-back’s future has been a lingering issue throughout the season.

Sagna has always wanted a new three-year deal but the traditional policy at Arsenal is to offer just one-year extensions to players in their 30s. The club have eventually relented and offered Sagna a longer deal but the fear at the Emirates is that he has already decided to leave. Manchester City would certainly like him, although he might not be first choice, while there is the prospect of more money on offer from Internazionale and several Turkish clubs.

Ashley Cole

While John Terry has been given a contract extension by Chelsea, Ashley Cole has not yet and he looked like a man saying goodbye when he tearfully walked around Stamford Bridge after the last home game of the season against Norwich. Having ended his own international career after Roy Hodgson left him out of the World Cup squad, Cole’s career is at a crossroads. Jose Mourinho has said that he hopes Cole stays but the club might not see it that way – he is no longer a first choice – so his eight-year stay might be over, with big offers likely from England and abroad.

Rio Ferdinand

Both halves of Manchester United’s famous central defence for the past eight years are leaving this summer. Nemanja Vidic is off to Italy to play for Internazionale while Rio Ferdinand was told at the weekend that United would not be renewing his contract. Ferdinand said last week that if United did not offer him a new deal that he would be “open to offers” but joked that he “would not go below the Conference”. That is unlikely to be an issue as there should be no shortage of clubs looking for a defender of his experience. Queen’s Park Rangers, should they come up, are managed by Ferdinand’s old mentor Harry Redknapp, while even bigger teams like Arsenal could be tempted.

Gareth Barry

The midfielder’s move to Everton last summer was on loan and only now, at the end of his excellent season at Goodison Park, he is a free agent. Roberto Martinez, of course, would love to retain the veteran who impressed with his reading and managing of the game, but they are not certain to be able to do that.

Barry was paid close to £100,000 per week last season and Everton’s budget is not huge, while there is likely to be interest in Barry from Major League Soccer, as well as from some of the Premier League’s biggest sides.

Joleon Lescott

After Manchester City’s title-clinching 2-0 win over West Ham United, Joleon Lescott confirmed that it was a “great way to go out” after five years at the club. He was close to a move away from the Etihad Stadium back in January, with West Ham United and Turkish side Besiktas both interested, only for City to fail to land his replacement in Eliaquim Mangala from Porto. However, Lescott is likely to attract similar interest this summer.  West Ham, Newcastle United and Aston Villa would all be keen on someone with his extensive experience, with 26 England caps and two Premier League winners’ medals.

Patrice Evra

With Ferdinand and Vidic both leaving, it remains to be seen whether United can afford to lose another defender with almost a decade of experience at the club, but it is not clear yet whether Evra will be retained. Incoming manager Louis van Gaal will decide whether to keep the veteran left-back, who turns 33 tomorrow. If he does not then the Frenchman will have a good offer from Monaco, whom he left for United but who are now very rich, as well as from Internazionale, where he could team up again with Vidic.

Frank Lampard

As with Terry and Cole, Lampard’s Chelsea deal expires at the end of the season and he is likely to follow Terry in signing a new deal at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard is not the dynamic presence in midfield that he once was, and he started only 20 Premier League games this season. But as his inclusion in Roy Hodgson’s World Cup squad demonstrated, his experience and presence are invaluable and he is more than worth having around. That said, if he does not renew at Chelsea, there would surely be offers from abroad, not least from long-time suitors LA Galaxy.

Joe Cole

Joe Cole has not enjoyed as many opportunities to play on his return to West Ham United as he might have liked – starting just six league games this season – and his contract is up this summer. Of course, if Sam Allardyce is removed he might be replaced by a manager more sympathetic to Cole but the chances are that the 32-year-old will not be playing at the Boleyn Ground next season. He is doing his B Licence coaching badge alongside Matt Taylor at West Ham’s Rush Green facility, starting this week, but it remains to be seen where he will play next season.

Marouane Chamakh

The Moroccan striker has completed a one-year deal at Crystal Palace that could barely have gone much better. Since he was entrusted with a role as a withdrawn striker by Tony Pulis in December, he has been excellent, scoring five goals and helping to drag Palace out of the relegation zone and into safety.

Chamakh will be discussing his future with the club soon but he said last week that agreeing a new deal at Palace was his “priority”, after building an excellent rapport with the fans and playing his best football since his arrival in England from France in 2010. If not, he would like to stay in the Premier League.

Nicklas Bendtner

Despite a fairly successful season by his standards, Nicklas Bendtner is on his way out of Arsenal. The Dane has scored twice this year, in wins over Hull and Cardiff, but he fell behind Yaya Sanogo in the pecking order while not always conducting himself immaculately off the pitch. He turned down moves away from Arsenal last summer that would have meant pay cuts but this summer he must be hopeful of maximising his value as a free agent.

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