Fabio Cannavaro, Carlos Tevez, Michael Ballack, Michael Owen, Mark Van Bommel, Fred… these are but a few of the players whose contract is set to expire at the end of the season. And with the january transfer window practically at our doorstep, it is time to give these “old timers” a chance to prove they still are champion material. Time to make that zero-cost buy to win you that elusive trophy, cup, or championship title (or in the worst cases, save you from relegation).
In other words: it’s “Bosman Bonanza” time, with some real bargains to be made…
As customary after New Year’s celebrations, the January transfer market will soon re-open its doors on Wednesday 7th, with the usual frenzy of presidents, sports managers, agents haggling over player prices, and clubs jumping at the opportunity to either strengthen their rosters (Ibisevic) or to offload some undesirables (Adriano). But even better still during this period of the year (and any adept of the Football Manager series will nod in agreement with me), is that it’s time for “Free Transfer Bargains”.
Yes my friends: with now six months left until the end of the season for most European leagues, players whose contract is set to expire in July can be snatched for zero cost. And while 80% of these players are generally over the age of 30, there’s still plenty of juice left to be squeezed out, even in old lemons.
Gazzetta dello Sport (my bible) had the fantastic idea of rounding up all of these soon-to-be free agents, and making of list for each of the Top European leagues (with a big emphasis on Serie A obviously). Republished here on mCalcio (with accompanying text full translated by yours truly), for your viewing pleasure.
The rules in the free transfers game are simple mathematics: whatever the market value of the player may be, it’s multiplied by zero. And poof! The transfer cost disappears, leaving only the player’s wage to worry about.
It’s a game of numbers: 488 players with expiring contracts in July, 62 in Italy, 108 in England, 79 in Spain, 89 in Germany, and 150 in France. And we’ve taken a close look at 122 of them.
It’s also a game of dates: Wednesday January 7th the transfer window will re-open, and will stay open until 19:00 CET of February 2nd. Players with expiring contracts however may be signed until March 31st!
Starting with the big clubs, there are several stars (nay, legends) with expiring contracts, mostly because of age limitations rather than due to wage negotiation problems. Top of the list is 36 year-old Pavel Nedved at Juve: the Ballon d’Or 2003 winner already renewed once last season, but may be persuaded to delay hanging up his boots for one more year. Far less likely is the case of Paolo Maldini: the AC Milan captain has repeatedly stated this will be his last season, and at 40 years of age (especially given Paolo’s amazing career) who can blame him. Also at Milan and on the verge of retirement, 36 year-old Giuseppe Favalli.
In other big clubs, Inter will probably be looking to keep Francesco Toldo and Julio Cruz, while Hernan Crespo and Olivier Dacourt are on their way out. Meanwhile Roma are debating what to do with Christian Panucci (he wants a renewal for another two years with the same wage as now), Fiorentina have renewed with Per Kroldrup and may be looking to do the same with Martin Jorgensen (perhaps even until 2011), while Inzaghino (Simone) will likely be leaving Lazio (Siena are on the move).
At mid-table, some clubs are adopting early renewal strategies (Genoa -Juric and Milanetto- and Sampdoria in particular), while others such as Bologna (Di Vaio, Antonioli, Bombardini) have postponed negotiations until the end of the season. For Marco Di Vaio however, the renewal is more than likely: you generally do not want to let the Serie A capocannoniere go out on a free transfer, especially when you don’t have too much cash lying around.
Torino are the ones who’ll be doing the most “liquidations” in June: only Eugenio Corini and Alberto Fontana (maybe) will be staying in Turin, while Ventola, Stellone, Franceschini, and Di Loreto are all on the way out.
Total number of players: 62.
Lots of great deals here. Carlos Tevez for example, who is still “owned” (however that works) by Russian financial group MSI, is listed with an asking price of €30m. And who can ignore still relatively young talent such as Emmanuel Eboué (age 25, Arsenal), and Salomon Kalou (age 23, Chelsea).
Jon Obi Mikel is a much stranger case, because only last December did Chelsea and Lyn Oslo (his preceding club) manage to resolve a contractual problem dating back to his 2006 transfer. The player is likely looking to renew with the Blues, while the same cannot be said for his midfield buddy Michael Ballack.
Completing the list we find another Ballon d’Or winner, 2001-laureate Michael Owen. It seems the Newcastle striker has had enough of St.James’s Park and will be trying his luck elsewhere. Meanwhile, Red Devils legends Ryan Giggs and Gary Neville will be calling it quits at the end of the season.
Total number of players: 108. Top 15 featured below.
Look! Fabio Cannavaro‘s up for grabs! Could the Azzurri captain finally return to end his career at Napoli? Seems unlikely, at least until president De Laurentiis makes a serious move and Real Madrid find a suitable replacement for their backline.
Meanwhile Robert Pirès and Leo Franco are both doing good at their respective clubs, and snatching them won’t be easy. Jerzy Dudek seems a much easier target, especially since the ex-Poland international may be tired of playing the role of back-up keeper at Real. Same story for striker Fernando Morientes at Valencia.
Lastly, there’s the chapter of ex-Serie A faces (Maniche, who is doing okay at Atletico, and Iván De la Peña, who always performed admirably -when he’s not injured that is) and “youngsters” (25 year-old Joan Verdú, who is among Depor’s top players). And who wouldn’t want an European champion on their team? (32 year-old defender Juanito was part of Spain’s roster this Summer).
Total number of players: 79. Top 15 featured below.
Cream of the crop here are both Bayern Munich players: Mark Van Bommel and Zé Roberto. 30 year-old Serbian international Marko Pantelic should also attract some attention, despite the slim goaltotal (4) for Hamburg so far.
Once again, some known faces of Serie A can also be found here, namely ex-Milan keeper Jens Lehmann (who made his fortunes, and misfortunes, at Arsenal) as well as ex-Juve center-back Robert Kovac. After one year in Serie B and two at Borussia Dortmund, it’s likely the ex-Czech international will call it quits at the end of the season.
Total number of players: 89. Top 15 featured below.
LOTS of players available here, in fact the highest total so far: 150! And some young ones too, so pick up the phone and start making calls! Like the ones Zamparini was making this Summer for Lyon striker Fred, rumored to have signed for Palermo as an ideal replacement for Amauri. At 25 years of age, this player’s future isn’t looking too grim.
Marseille midfielders Modeste M’Bami and “Bolo” Zenden are also pretty good picks, respectively a Cameroon international and an ex-Oranje with a fairly good European resumé (in Spain and England notably).
Lastly, one of Les Bleus‘s expert players, Sylvain Wiltord, who at 34 years of age will likely be leaving Rennes at the end of the season, as well as Leandro Cufré, who after 3 years in Italy and France respectively may be looking for a new experience.
Total number of players: 150. Top 15 featured below.
Tags: Alberto Fontana, Bosman Rule, Boudewijn Zenden, Bundesliga, Carlos Tevez, Christian Panucci, England, English Premiership, Eugenio Corini, Fabio Cannavaro, Fernando Morientes, France, Francesco Toldo, Fred, Free Transfers, Gary Neville, Gazzetta dello Sport, Germany, Giuseppe Favalli, Hernan Crespo, Italy, Iván De la Peña, January Transfer Window, Jens Lehmann, Jerzy Dudek, Joan Verdú, Jon Obi Mikel, Juanito, Julio Cruz, La Liga, Leandro Cufré, Leo Franco, Ligue 1, Maniche, Marco Di Vaio, Mark Van Bommel, Martin Jorgensen, Michael Owen, Modeste M'Bami, Nicola Ventola, Olivier Dacourt, Omar Milanetto, Paolo Maldini, Pavel Nedved, Per Kroldrup, Robert Kovac, Robert Pirès, Roberto Stellone, Ryan Giggs, Serie A, Simone Inzaghi, Soccer, Spain, Sylvain Wiltord, Zé Roberto