Bargains are always available in the summer with players contracts running out. Here are 10 players joining Premier League clubs on free transfers.
Craig Gardner – West Brom
The versatile midfielder has been picked up by West Brom, leaving Sunderland where he spent 3 years making 82 league appearances. Remembered for his ability to score a spectacular strike as well as his brilliant penalty taking ability, Gardner will be a good addition to West Brom as he can operate at right back or anywhere across the midfield.
Sunderland paid £6m for him back in 2011 so it must be seen as great value to the midlands club to be picking him up for nothing. He scored a stunning free kick at Wigan in the Christmas period of 2011, where he got Roberto Carlos like curl with the ball moving both ways and finding the postage stamp of the top corner.
Steve Sidwell – Stoke
The tough tackling midfielder will be a great fit at Stoke, who lacked a real leader in midfield. Although Fulham were relegated, Sidwell had a very good season for the south west London side regardless of relegation. Stoke will be happy with the signing as he was sort after by many other clubs in the Premier League as well as Fulham offering him a new contract.
Sidwell will bring experience and strength to a Stoke side that also picked up Phil Bardsley on a free and Mame Biram Diouf, the former Man Utd man, from Hannover. He added a new dimension to his game last season, scoring 7 goals in the Premier League including a wonder strike against Crystal Palace.
Brede Hangeland – Crystal Palace
This time 2 years ago Arsenal were the team chasing the big Norwegian so Crystal Palace must be counting their chickens after snapping him up on a free transfer. 1 of the most consistent performers in the Premier League at Centre back, standing at 6’6 he is a dominant figure on the pitch and captained Fulham for over 4 years.
The tall Norwegian, with his characteristic calm nature, is known for combining great aerial ability and physical strength with good passing ability for a defender. He is definitely a player suited to Tony Pulis style and he could turn him into a goal threat from set pieces. Hangeland said he was delighted to join Crystal Palace and couldn’t wait to link up with the manager and squad. Hangeland openly criticised former manager Felix Magath on Sky sports news in July.
Joe Cole – Aston Villa
It’s been an up and down couple of years for Joe Cole since leaving Chelsea where he was considered 1 of the best players in English football. He joined Liverpool in 2010 and got off to the worst possible start, being sent off against Arsenal on his debut. A year at Lille in France where he showed flashes of brilliance then saw him re-join boyhood club West Ham. He played 37 times managing 5 goals.
A very technically gifted player who has struggled with injury and commitment to playing, Aston Villa could be the perfect opportunity to right those wrongs and prove the many doubters wrong about his attitude and work ethic at previous clubs. He recently took a dig at Liverpool claiming that they thought they were a bigger club than Chelsea and that’s all they were concerned with.
Gareth Barry – Everton
This was a slightly obvious deal following a very successful loan spell last season for Barry. He added composure and experience to Everton’s midfield, forming a great partnership with James McCarthy in a season that saw Everton finish 5th in Roberto Martinez first campaign on Merseyside. Barry completed the most passes of any Everton player during his spell.
He became a mainstay under Martinez and will be expected to be again having been handed a 3 year deal at the age of 33.There has always been an argument that Barry should score more goals like he did at Aston Villa but he has turned himself into more of a deep lying playmaker in recent years sitting much deeper in the holding midfield role. His game against Norwich was a particular highlight where he scored a stunning long ranger.
Tom Ince – Hull City
Incredibly Tom Ince chose Hull City over Champions League competing team AS Monaco and Italian giants Inter Milan. Although he has said he still holds ambitions to play abroad, he thought staying in England would be better suited to his development at this current time. Only aged 22 he is a fantastic prospect and other teams in England were desperate for his signature.
A pacey winger, he scored 31 goals in 100 games for Blackpool which is a fantastic return for a player who operates on the wing rather than through the middle. He came through the Liverpool youth academy and there has always been a lot of talk surrounding him as his dad is Paul Ince and he broke onto the scene at a very young age. He will add flair and agility to a Hull side who also snapped up Jake Livermore on a permanent deal last month.
Bafétimbi Gomis – Swansea
The 28 year old Frenchman left Lyon after 5 years at the club. 62 goals in 172 appearances for Lyon, he has featured in the Champions League and the French national squad 12 times. He scored his first goal for Swansea on his debut and if Wilfried Bony stays at Swansea they could turn into a scary partnership next season.
Gylfi Sigurdsson has also been brought in and he could link up brilliantly with both strikers as he is a great playmaker with strong technical ability. Newcastle also expressed interest in Gomis and with all of their French players, Gary Monk must be very happy that the Frenchman chose Wales over Tyneside.
Joleon Lescott – West Brom
Lescott joined City for £22m back in 2009 and was considered 1 of the best centre backs in the country. He featured a lot under Roberto Mancini and formed a solid partnership with Vincent Kompany. He played 31 times in the Premier League the Year City lifted the trophy but when Pellegrini came in to replace Mancini, Lescott only made 10 appearances out of a possible 36.
At the age of 31, Lescott still has many years of playing left in him and with 26 caps to his name he will add experience and defensive knowhow to a West Brom side that lacked any real conviction last season at the back with the likes of Diego Lugano being a mainstay in the team as well as a complete liability.
Rio Ferdinand – QPR
The most expensive defender of all time when he joined Man Utd. Rio has decided to see out his twilight years in London with QPR. He was England’s best defender alongside John Terry for nearly a decade and was capped 81 times for England. His CV speaks for itself and as well as playing for QPR he will offer a lot of tutoring and tactical knowledge to young players.
Rio has said that Ryan Giggs wanted him to stay at Manchester United but it seemed appropriate timing for him to join QPR for a final challenge in his illustrious career. He looked slightly off the pace at United but it was a torrid campaign for them under David Moyes and maybe a new manager and a new team will revitalise Rio to hit some form.
Didier Drogba – Chelsea
The big Ivorian couldn’t resist the temptation of returning to his former club to link up with Jose Mourinho for a second time. Things will be different at the Bridge this season with old heads Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole both departing, so Mourinho will be happy to have signed the Chelsea legend for a 2nd time. Drogba has been playing Champions League football and captaining Galatasaray to a league title.
Arsenal fans will be quaking in their boots with Drogba returning, and Mourinho may only use him as an impact sub or create a deadly duo with Diego Costa. Like Ferdinand, he is a good person to have around the place and help out with the younger members of the squad as well as the coaching staff and manager.