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The Premier League Free Agent XI, feat. Man United and Villa stars

The Boot Room

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It seems that every day the back pages of the papers are reporting on a fresh transfer rumour or the latest development in a players’ possible move. Our attention is always on the huge money deals. Is a club going to pay way over the odds for Raheem Sterling? Is David De Gea going to swap Manchester for Madrid? Is Gareth Bale going to swap Madrid for Manchester?

Clubs are looking for a good bargain. A striker that will score them 15 goals to keep them in the league. A defender that organises that back line so well that they qualify for the Champions League on goal difference. A goalkeeper that will make that all important save that wins them the league.

But clubs don’t always have to splash the cash to build a strong squad. Some players will be out of contract this summer and will be absolutely free to sign. So, I’ve comprised a team of Premier League players who will be free agents at the end of the season.

Goalkeeper Gerhard Tremmel 

The Swansea ‘keeper has played a reliable second fiddle to both Michel Vorm and ?ukasz Fabia?ski since joining the Welsh side in 2011. Tremmel, who played at youth level for Bayern Munich, played his part in Swansea’s historic 2012/13 season where he kept clean sheets against Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal. Also that season, the German was crucial to the Swansea side that won the Capital One Cup, keeping four clean sheets and conceding just four goals in the cup.

Right back Micah Richards

A mixture of injury setbacks and fierce competition with Pablo Zableta has restricted the Manchester City youth graduate to just 19 first team appearances in all competitions since the beginning of the 2012/13 season. This season, the right back joined Serie A’s Fiorentina on loan and has played just 10 times for them. The 26-year old is attracting attention from a variety of Premier League teams, including newcomers Bournemouth and Watford.

Centre back – Ron Vlaar

The man who they call ‘Roncrete’ at Villa Park attracted attention after his impressive performances for the Netherlands in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The Villa captain’s display against Argentina especially attracted the interest of Manchester United, Arsenal, Spurs and Southampton. With the centre back looking unlikely to agree a new deal with Villa, those same clubs and undoubtedly more will be looking to secure the services of the Dutchman.

Centre back – Kolo Touré

The Ivorian has been in and out of Liverpool’s defence this season as Brendan Rodgers shuffled his back line around to deal with poor form, injuries and suspensions. His impressive performance in Liverpool’s Champions League game at Real Madrid this season showed that despite the occasional error, Touré’s experience can be invaluable to any side.

Left back – Glen Johnson

Another Liverpool defender that looks set to leave Anfield as his contract expires at the end of this season. The England international played his part in Liverpool’s title challenge last season, playing 29 games and helping keep nine clean sheets. The former Portsmouth full back also has 54 England caps, making his debut back in 2003. Johnson has fallen down the pecking order at Anfield and rumours suggest a return to West Ham, where he started his career, is likely.

Right midfield – James Milner

The ever reliable James Milner has had heaps of praise from his manager Manuel Pellegrini this season. The City boss says he is “a guy with big balls” and a “complete player”. Yet it seems Pellegrini is allowing one of his only home grown players to leave this summer for nothing. Milner has been arguably City’s best and most consistent performer this season with Arsenal and Liverpool rumoured to be leading the race to sign the England international.

Central midfield – Tom Cleverley 

There will certainly be a longer queue for Tom Cleverley’s services this season than if his contract had expired last season. The 25-year-old was often a scapegoat for Manchester United’s poor showing last season, but at Aston Villa, particularly under Tim Sherwood, the United loanee has shown some impressive form. Cleverley scored goals in three consecutive games before the weekend and could be pushing for an England recall, something those 10,000 people who signed a petition to have him excluded from the World Cup squad won’t have too many complaints about next time around.

Central midfield – Joey Barton

The always controversial Joey Barton could leave QPR as they try to cut their wage bill to adjust to life in the Championship. Barton has been one of Rangers’ most consistent performers in a team that looked to be more concerned with paycheques rather than points. The QPR captain’s leadership would be welcome at any club looking to avoid relegation and, who knows, if he heads back to Marseille, we might get to hear that French accent once more.

Left midfield – Scott Sinclair 

Scott Sinclair swapped regular first team football at Swansea City for sporadic first team football at Manchester City when he moved to the Etihad Stadium in 2012. Whether he went for the money or was promised more football than the 19 appearances (16 as a substitute) that he’s made, we’ll never know, but in the last couple of seasons, West Brom and Aston Villa have both given him a chance. As with Tom Cleverley, Sinclair has shown some impressive form under Tim Sherwood who has expressed his desire to secure Sinclair permanently.

Striker – Darren Bent

Paul Lambert always seemed reluctant to play Darren Bent even if Villa were desperate for goals. He showed that he still is a proven goal scorer when he was sent out on loan to Brighton and, even more so, Derby County this season. At Derby, his 10 goals in 15 appearances helped their unsuccessful play-off push, showing that he is more than capable to rediscover the form that he previously displayed in his career. If the 31-year-old can stay clear of injuries and is provided with the right service, Bent is more than capable of reviving his Premier League career.

Striker – Danny Ings

Many football fans will be eager to see what football shirt Danny Ings will be wearing at the start of next season. The 22-year-old, who has scored 10 goals for relegated Burnley in his debut season in the Premier League, has expressed his desire to play for a manager who will help him fulfil his potential. With Manchester United, Liverpool and Real Sociedad all rumoured to be interested in the Burnley forward, it’s going to be one of the more interesting ones to follow over the summer.

Manager – Sam Allardyce

It looks inevitable that Sam Allardyce will leave West Ham this summer. Big Sam can never win. The West Ham supporters always seem to be complaining about the job that he’s doing. When they’re winning they complain that they’re not winning by playing ‘the West Ham way’. If they’re losing, they want Sam Allardyce out of Upton Park pronto. It will be interesting to see where Allardyce goes and who will replace him if he does not sign a new contract with The Hammers.

This team goes to show that there are other options for clubs to explore this season. Not many of these players will be headline makers but they’re talented, hungry for the opportunity and, most of all, free.

The Boot Room is a football analysis website, bringing original and creative content to the fans of the English Football League.

Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s play-off final is vital regarding the future of Jack Grealish

The 22-year-old has matured significantly under Steve Bruce this season.

Josh Kerr

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Photo: Getty Images

Aston Villa’s day of destiny awaits, and the future of Jack Grealish could also hang on this crucial Wembley fixture.

The 22-year-old has been in wonderful form for The Villans this season, and he showcased his talent in the play-off semi-final over two legs.

Villa edged past Middlesbrough 1-0, with Grealish playing a starring role over and club’s supporters will be desperate to keep their star man.

However, the future of the Solihull born youngster could hinge on whether Steve Bruce’s side gain promotion to the Premier League with a number of clubs set to swoop if Villa don’t reach the top-flight.

According to the Birmingham Mail, Grealish was recently offered a big money move to Leicester but opted to instead stay at Villa Park.

However, if Aston Villa were to fall at the final hurdle at Wembley then it may be difficult for Grealish to focus on another year in the Championship especially if the Premier League comes knocking once again.

The attacking midfielder has blossomed under Bruce this season and has been central to the club’s promotion hopes.

He has really matured over the year and his performances on the pitch have continued to impress those who once doubted whether he would fulfill his potential.

According to reports from the Mirror, Villa will need to cut costs if they fail in the play-offs and Grealish would be one of the club’s more saleable assets.

Grealish would be a huge loss to Villa, but the Midlands side will be full of confidence going into one of football’s richest fixtures.

They will know full well that a win could be the factor that ensures the club are able to withstand elusive offers for some of their top players.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa’s James Chester comes back to haunt former manager Tony Pulis

The Welsh defender came back to bit his old boss in the play-off semi clash.

Max Cohen

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James Chester
Photo: Getty Images

Tony Pulis’ Middlesbrough side were expertly stifled by Aston Villa in their play-off semifinal, as the Villans held Boro to 180 minutes of scoreless football.

Villa centre-half James Chester was a constant rock at the back, revealing to Pulis that his former boss was wrong to sell him when the two were together at West Bromwich Albion.

Chester signed for the Baggies from Hull City in the summer of 2015, after five impressive seasons for the Tigers. The fee was reported to be in the region of £8 million and many expected the Welsh international to excel in the back four under Pulis.

Yet, frustratingly for the centre-back, Chester made only 13 league appearances for the Baggies in the 2015/16 campaign. The Welshman started just nine Premier League matches all season, as Pulis clearly did not consider him as first-choice at the Hawthorns.

After just one year at West Brom, Chester was sold to Championship side Aston Villa in 2016.

(Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)

In the following two seasons at Villa Park, the centre-back has enjoyed tremendous success, making over 75 appearances and establishing himself as an indispensable presence at the back.

This season, Chester has struck up a formidable partnership with former Chelsea captain John Terry.

The airtight defensive combination was on full display during the two matches against Middlesbrough, as Chester and Terry stifled the high-octane Boro attack.

Featuring the likes of Britt Assambalonga, Adama Traore, Stewart Downing, Patrick Bamford, and Rudy Gestede, the Teesiders’ star-studded frontline was held scoreless due to Villa’s superb defense- led by James Chester.

As Tony Pulis watched his side run out of ideas and fall to a 1-0 aggregate defeat, he will surely be ruing his 2016 mistake.

Allowing James Chester to be sold to Aston Villa truly came back to haunt the Boro boss, as the Welsh international delivered Pulis a dramatic reminder of his abilities and cost the Teesiders a spot at Wembley.

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Aston Villa

Aston Villa should at least take a look at Carles Gil this summer

The Spaniard spent the season out on loan from Aston Villa at Deportivo La Coruna.

Mathew Coull

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It looks as though Carles Gil will be leaving Aston Villa this summer. The Birmingham Mail reported this week that the Spaniard has no future at Villa Park, with the club looking to offload him in the summer.

An apparent obligation on the part of his current loan club Deportivo La Coruna to bring him in permanently has now been denied in the Spanish press. Marca now claims the permanent deal is void, after Depor’s relegation from La Liga.

It comes after a difficult season for Gil, in which he suffered a hernia problem and was eventually frozen out by new manager Clarence Seedorf.

But ask any Aston Villa fan and they will tell you that Gil is immensely talented. In fact, many would like to see him get another chance in England.

So should he?

Aston Villa paid Valencia a fee of around £3.2 million for the player, according to BBC Sport. It came after two excellent seasons out on loan at fellow Spanish club Elche.

Therefore, retrieving such a fee for the player would surely not be a difficult task for the club. But he clearly still has something to offer, especially if Villa remain in the Championship.

(Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Gil was one of only a few players to come away from Aston Villa’s relegation campaign with any semblance of dignity and in his first half season at the club looked a real talent.

At just 25-years-old there is also still plenty of scope for him to improve. If Villa stay down again this season then major investment in recruitment is bound to diminish. So having a player with the talent of Gil still around at the club could be like a new signing for Villa.

It certainly seems as though Tony Xia and Steve Bruce want to banish any memory of that awful Aston Villa side that was relegated to the Championship. However, Gil might be one of the very few from that squad with redeemable qualities.

At the very least, it is worth keeping him through pre-season and seeing what he can do. If Bruce does not like what he sees, he can give Gil the boot before the transfer window shuts.

But if he does? Well, Gil could easily resurrect himself a decent career at Villa Park.

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