What with Carlos Cuellar, Brad Guzan and the mighty Emile Heskey poised to depart on free transfers at the end of the season, perhaps it’s time Villa looked to take advantage of some freebies? Indeed the club are already looking to set adopt this strategy (see Brett Holman) in order that saved transfer fees can be put towards player salaries.
But who is up for grabs this year? Who could Aston Villa, on the back of a poor overall season reasonably expect to attract? Here are a few names to throw into the hat for discussion, all of whom are available on free transfers in summer 2012. For the purposes of sanity, certain ageing stars (Drogba, 34 & Ballack, 35 etc) and players out of our scope (Adebeyor, Berbatov, Farfan etc) have not been included:
Nicklas Bendtner – Currently on loan at Sunderland from Arsenal whom he has declared he will never played for again. A powerful young forward (24) with undeniable talent, but who’s brash confidence to date could easily leave him branded arrogant. Any club looking to secure his services will need to offset an ego against the potential for a very potent top flight striker. Whilst there is a decent striker in there, it is also reasonable to assume that he will demand top wages also. Would he be worth the investment or the hassle?
Hugo Rodallega – A player who impresses from afar but whom can equally frustrate his own sides supporters through indifferent performances and alleged anonymity during games. However, Rodellega is arguably a fine player lost in a hard working but ultimately poor Wigan side. Technically very gifted and with Premier League experience, perhaps Hugo on a freebie to bolster the Villa attack would be a justified gamble?
Pavel Pogrebnyak – At 28 the imposing Russian has emerged onto the Premier League scene with an impressive start to his Fulham career. Powerful and a proven goalscorer at both domestic and European level (St. Petersburg) he is available for nothing this summer following a disappointing spell in the Bundesliga with Stuttgart. Villa’s biggest problem might be that he has better offers following decent early showings at Craven Cottage.
Tranquillo Barnetta – This 26 year old Swiss international midfielder is currently plying his trade at Bayer Leverkusan. Strongly linked with Newcastle last season he would offer a creative edge to the side being happy operating as a winger. However, he is adaptable and can play a deeper holding role if required. Acquiring a player of Barnetta’s quality would likely be hard work, but he has already demonstrated an interest in possible moves to Premiership teams who are not necessarily challenging for honours.
Hedwiges Maduro – Former Ajax youngster currently plying his trade at Valencia in Spain, securing Maduro’s services would indeed be a coup. However, not beyond the realms of possibility as whilst he has been a consistent performer he has not reached the heights that a top European club demands. This is not to say that Maduro is a bad player, more that he has been deployed across the back four much in the manner that Carlos Cuellar has to date. Maduro would bring experience and much needed versatility to the Aston Villa defence, as well as perhaps a point to prove!
Pau Cendros Lopez – A 23 year old defender who currently plays for RCD Mallorca and has broken into the team following numerous loan spells throughout his youth development. His availability on a free can only be described as a bargain, particularly as he would come fully developed to La Liga standard and would offer something else into an otherwise abject Villa defence. The likelihood is that Cendros is on the radar of a number of European clubs of similar calibre to Villa, so any moves would need to be hasty.
Michele Canini – A solid and straightforward central defender soon to be out of contract with Serie A outfit Cagliari. With Villa needing some measure of stability at centre half, and an alternative to throwing the kids in, Canini at 26 would offer something more assured. The player has however been courting interest from AS Roma since January 2012, thus the ship could well have already sailed.
Lasse Schone – An exciting attacking right footed midfielder currently playing for NEC in the Netherlands. A late developer (25) it is only in the most recent seasons has his career emerged from the wilderness. Following a successful promotion with De Graafshap he was purchased by NEC and has since gone on to make his full international debut for Denmark (scoring) against Chile. Interestingly Schone has expressed a desire to move to pastures new and has already rebutted Feyenoord. Schone’s services would be very welcome at Villa Park – and all for the cost of his wages.
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