The free transfer XI – summer 2012

Say what you will about Janet Jackson, but she is an astute woman. The best things in life are free.

And never has this been a wiser observation than in the current frail financial climate in which we’re all – top flight football teams included – searching for a few extra quid down the back of the sofa.

Admittedly, the pop warbler could have been referring to feelings of friendship, love and other human qualities that money can’t, or at least shouldn’t, be able to buy.

However, I’ve taken it literally and so in honour of the song, here’s my starting line-up of the best free transfers from across Europe.

GK Robert Green (West Ham United – Queens Park Rangers)

Unfortunately for Green he will forever be remembered for failing to stop Clint Dempsey’s desperately weak effort in Rustenberg two years ago. However, England’s second choice keeper is a valuable addition to QPR’s squad, bringing with him an authority and experience, as they look to maintain their presence in the top flight.

DF Lucio (Inter Milan – Juventus)

The Brazilian defender is now 34-years-old, but he still has plenty to offer. The pace from the Champions League and World Cup winner’s leggy stride may have eased, but his positional sense and experience of big games has only matured. Even if he’s only used in rotation, Lucio’s exploratory jaunts forward are a joy to watch and he should prove to be a valuable addition to the Serie A winners.

DF Steven Whittaker (Rangers – Norwich City)

Whilst Rangers financial implosion has meant the Glasgow club will start next season from the foot of Scotland’s league system, many clubs have been happily taking advantage of their misfortune, with Norwich being one. Whittaker rejected the opportunity to join the new Rangers and the Scottish international right-back should help Chris Hughton’s team build on their impressive return to the Premier League last season.

DF Jose Bosingwa (Chelsea – unattached)

The Portuguese international he has been deemed surplus to requirements at Stamford Bridge, despite his £16.2million transfer fee four years ago and 43 appearances last season, including a start in the Champions League final. However, at 29-years-old he is by no means on the scrapheap, as the attacking full-back should have a few good top-flight years in him yet.

MF Riccardo Montolivo (Fiorentina – AC Milan)

Together with Andrea Pirlo, Montolivio marshalled the Italian midfield that so successfully over-ran England at Euro 2012. With the second highest passing rate (94) during that game, his cultured play could help Milan improve on last season’s second place Serie A finish, as they look to find long term replacements for Pirlo and the recently departed Clarence Seedorf.

MF Steven Davis (Rangers – Southampton)

Perhaps the most high-profile player to leave Ibrox, the former Rangers captain could prove to be the best signing at St Mary’s this summer, as the Northern Ireland international will be a calming influence in a Saint’s midfield that is hugely inexperienced of top flight football.

MF Danny Murphy (Fulham – Blackburn Rovers)

Bouncing back from relegation is a difficult task and the pressure on the under-fire Steve Kean will be just as weighty this season. The addition of the experienced Danny Murphy though will help his manager’s cause and Rovers’ midfield that looked increasingly devoid of attacking ideas last season, as they limply succumbed to the drop.

MF Clarence Seedorf (AC Milan – Botafogo)

After a 10 year spell in Milan the 36-year-old has agreed to move in the most lucrative deal ever handed out to a foreign player in Brazil. His two year deal represents just how highly regarded he still is, despite his age, whilst also being a coup for the Brazilian league as a whole, which so often sees players treat it as a stepping stone to a European club.

MF/FW Alan Smith (Newcastle United – MK Dons)

Tempting a player down the divisions is never easy, let alone trying to tempt them to Milton Keynes, however, manager Karl Robinson has done just that. Having spent last season on loan at the Denbigh stadium, scoring twice in 18 appearances, Smith made the move permanent following the expiry of his contract at Newcastle and his versatility and in particular his experience will be a rare commodity in England’s third tier.

FW Didier Drobga (Chelsea – Shanghai Shenhua)

Under Andre Villas-Boas, Drogba was a marginalised figure, limited to looking moody and brooding on the Stamford Bridge bench, making his imminent departure seem a sensible decision on behalf of the club. Following the dismissal of the Portuguese though, the two time Premier League top goalscorer was transformed into a goal hungry animal, with strikes in the FA Cup and Champions League finals emphasising his value. At 34-years-old he is in the twilight of his career, but he could yet enjoy a long hot Indian summer in the emerging Chinese Super League.

FW Michael Owen (Manchester United – unattached)

Owen isn’t the player he once was, as the electrifying pace that made him such a threat all those years ago has gone. His goal scoring touch hasn’t deserted him though, demonstrated by his three goals in a meagre four starts for United last season. At 32-years-old he is approaching the end of his career, but the former England international still has the positional sense to be in the right place at the right time and used in rotation, he could be an astute signing for a club pushing towards the top half of the table.

Substitutes: GK Craig Gordon (Sunderland – unattached), DF Carlos Cuellar (Aston Villa – Sunderland), MF Paul Pogba (Manchester United – Juventus), MF Gennaro Gattuso (AC Milan – Sion), MF Seydou Keita (Barcelona – Dalian Aerbin), MF/FW Salomon Kalou (Chelsea – Lille), FW Pavel Pogrebnyak (Fulham – Reading), FW Mladin Petric (Hamburg – Fulham), FW Hugo Rodallega (Wigan – Fulham)

Tags: Blackburn Rovers, Championship, Chelsea, Didier Drogba, Fulham, League One, Manchester United, MK Dons, Norwich City, Premier League, QPR, Southampton, West Ham United, Wigan Athletic

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Bingham 16 July 2012 at 2:33pm

Um, Brett Holman? This is surely the biggest oversight in any squad selection this summer.

To quote The Sun, Holman was “mustard for Villa” against the might of Burton Albion (This may be a pun on Hellmann’s mustard, although it is so poor, I can’t be sure).

Dan 16 July 2012 at 3:35pm

Do Hellmann’s make mustard? You’re right about Brett Holman though, he could be the next John Aloisi.

Dill 16 July 2012 at 9:47pm

Colman’s is the pun you’re after, makers of finest English mustard

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