Harry Redknapp is a very frustrated man. Having lost out on the signing of Wayne Bridge due to internal politics, his time as QPR boss could be numbered as he contemplates stepping down. As Redknapp said in a recent press conference, if he is unable to bring in his own players then he has no chance of helping the troubled London club gain promotion from the Championship. But Redknapp’s biggest grievance is not that QPR owner Tony Fernandes is withholding spending money, it’s that the club couldn’t even sanction the signing of Bridge on a free transfer. Bridge was under freedom of contract after being released by Manchester City at the end of the season. The former England left back was one of five players freed by City as The Premier League announced each clubs retained and released player’s lists for 2012/13.
Bridge has fortunately already found a club after joining Reading but for other players released, it will be an anxious summer as they look to find a new club to join. Among them are some established international names like Nicky Shorey, Matthew Upson, Denilson and David Bentley who will likely be picked up by a club within the next few weeks. All four players still have something to offer, even if this past season has not been as fruitful as they had hoped.
Other players may not be so fortunate. At 38 years old, William Gallas is nearing the end of his career and may still decide to follow the likes of Scholes, Owen and Phil Neville into retirement. But Gallas is likely to want to play one more season, either with a return to France or a move to QPR to play under Redknapp once more. Another player in the latter part of his career is Mark Schwarzer, who has decided to leave Fulham after six years at the club. The 40 year old, who two seasons ago was subject to a failed transfer bid from Arsenal, could move back to Australia to prolong his career or may move to the US for the same reasons.
Speaking of Arsenal, one player leaving the club is Andrei Arshavin. The Russian playmaker joined the club as one of the most exciting players outside of Europe’s top four leagues, having impressed for Zenit Saint Petersburg during their successful UEFA Cup winning campaign. Arsenal secured his signature by splashing out a then club record £15 million and during his first year at the club, Arshavin looked to be money well spent. With vintage performances against Liverpool and Portsmouth as well as other flashes of brilliance throughout his first season, it wasn’t hard to see why the media had built up the talent Russian as a world class player. However things were not as rosy as they seemed, with Arshavin often commenting about how miserable he was in London and how ugly the women were. He was unsettled but seemed happy to complaint about it, yet do nothing to resolve the situation. The next three years at the club would see the gifted playmaker turn into one of the laziest and uninspiring figures in the Premiership. Happy to pick up his paycheck, Arshavin spend most of his times on the sidelines before engineering a loan move back to Zenit for most of last season. Now a free agent, Arshavin will return to Russia as a failure but it’s unlikely to bother the player who has had his moment in the sun.
Another player who spent last season toiling in the reserves was Chelsea’s Florent Malouda. The French winger was part of Chelsea’s historic Champions League winning team but after falling out with Roberto Di Matteo at the start of last season, Malouda found himself relegated to the clubs youth team and told to train on his own. He was offered a chance to exit the club in the January transfer window but decided to see out his contract, despite the lack of first team action. For most professionals, such a move would result in the player having a grievance with the club and a poor attitude, but Malouda saw it instead as a motivational factor and choose to instead use his experience and help the youngsters at the club. This exposure to a seasoned international player will have helped the clubs younger player dramatically and has softened the departure of the player from the club. Malouda has offers on the table in France so a return to his homeland looks on the cards.
Also leaving Chelsea as part of Jose Mourinho’s revolution are midfield Yossi Benayoun, defender Paulo Ferreira and goalkeepers Hilario and Ross Turnbull. They join Newcastle duo Steve Harper and Danny Simpson, Liverpool’s Danny Wilson, Manchester City’s Roque Santa Cruz, Sunderland’s Titus Bramble, West Ham’s Carlton Cole and Stoke trio Jermaine Pennant, Dean Whitehead and Rory Delap on the free transfer list. For all concerned, the next few months will be filled with anxious moments as they and their agents search for new clubs for them to join. With the new season less than two months away, time is precious for all concerned.