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English Premier League

This summer’s Premier League free agent XI, featuring Manchester United and City stars

Martyn Cooke



With the 2016/17 football season entering into the home straight many supporters around the world will be encapsulated by the trials and tribulations of their team. Titles, European qualification, relegation and promotion will all be decided over the coming couple of months but already many clubs, and most probably players, will have one eye cast towards the summer transfer window.

The Stoke Sentinel are reporting that there are 71 players that are contracted to Premier League clubs whose current deals are set to expire in the summer, leaving these players facing the possibility of being out of a job – for a short period of time at least. These free agents will include world renowned names, ageing professionals and young starlets who have failed to flourish and there will be a multitude of clubs looking down the list to see if they can pick up a bargain purchase.

Here is The Boot Room’s combined Free Agent XI…

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Wayne Hennessey (Crystal Palace)

The Welsh international has been a regular fixture in goal for Crystal Palace since arriving at Selhurst Park in January 2014 but has been somewhat erratic with his performances this campaign. Hennessey already has an abundance of experience and at the age of 30 he is still relatively young in goalkeeping terms.

Glen Johnson (Stoke City)

The former England, Chelsea and Liverpool fullback has been plying his trade in North Staffordshire since arriving as a free agent in the summer of 2015 but with his contract set to expire in the summer talks have yet to begin regarding a new deal. At the age of 32 Johnson could still have a lot to offer a Premier League club with his experience and technical ability, although he has been plagued by injuries in the last twelve months.

John Terry (Chelsea)

The former England captain is a living legend at Stamford Bridge having made over 500 appearances for The Blues. However, at the age of 36 Terry’s career at the very highest level of football is all but over and the central defender has made just ten appearances for Antonio Conte’s side this season with there being little sign of a new contract being offered. However, Terry could still be a useful signing for a Premier League side, especially if partnered with a younger, more mobile defensive partner.

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Damian Delaney (Crystal Palace)

Despite being 35 the aging central defender has proven to be more than capable of performing in the Premier League by his exploits with Crystal Palace over the last four years. Delaney is very much a rugged, no-nonsense centre-half but may still have plenty to offer a mid-table team in the top-flight of English football should Sam Allardyce decide that he is surplus to requirements in the summer.

Gael Clichy (Manchester City)

Pep Guardiola is expected to conduct a major overhaul of the Manchester City squad in the summer and Clichy is likely to be amongst the departures despite playing a prominent role throughout the current campaign. The former Arsenal full-back has never been renowned for his defensive capabilities but certainly has plenty to offer from an attacking perspective and at 31 will still have the capacity to play another couple of seasons at the highest level.

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Michael Carrick (Manchester United)

At the age of 35, Carrick may well be entering into the autumn of his playing career and yet the central midfielder is still highly rated by Manchester United supporters. However, his playing opportunities have been limited by the arrival of Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho’s preference to select Ander Herrera in his starting eleven, with his future at Old Trafford very much uncertain. Carrick may lack a aspect of mobility but his technique, passing range and ability to dictate a game would make him a valuable acquisition for any Premier League side

Lucas Leiva (Liverpool)

The diminutive Brazilian is in his eighth season at Anfield but has yet to sign a new contract despite playing a prominent role in Jurgen Klopp’s rebuilding process. Lucas is recognised as being an effective defensive midfielder with an eye for an incisive pass but he has also shown his versatility this campaign having been used as a makeshift central defender. The 30-year-old still has plenty of gas in the tank and his experience of Premier League and European football would make him an attractive option for a host of top-flight teams.

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Yaya Toure (Manchester City)

The 33-year-old is an iconic figure at Manchester City and has been a key component of the team in recent seasons. However, Toure was frozen out of the first-team picture by Pep Guardiola at the start of the season and, despite forcing his was back into the starting eleven, the central midfielder will depart the Etihad Stadium when his contract expires in the summer. There is no doubting the Ivorian’s technical ability and the impact that he can have on a match, but there are few clubs around the world who would be capable of meeting his current wage demands.

 George Boyd (Burnley)

The 31-year-old has made over 100 appearances for Burnley since signing for The Clarets in the summer of 2014 but has yet to sign a new contract despite playing a key role in Sean Dyche’s side. Boyd is a technically adept winger and has demonstrated over the last year that he is more than capable of performing in the Premier League despite only winning two caps for Scotland. He would make a useful signing for any lower or mid-table top flight club.

Jesus Navas (Manchester City)

The Spaniard has struggled to find his feet at Manchester City since arriving at the Etihad Stadium for Sevilla in the summer of 2013. He arrived with a reputation of being a direct, pacey wide-man but has never been able to secure a permanent spot in The Citizen’s first team and has often been criticised for a lack of end product. Pep Guardiola is expected to commence some major rebuilding work with his current Manchester City squad in the summer and Navas is unlikely to survive the cull. The 31-year-old could still be a useful option should a Premier League club take the gamble on him.

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

The Swedish superstar has been in incredible form for Jose Mourinho’s team so far this campaign and has scored 27 goals across all competitions since arriving as a free agent in the summer. However, the 35-year-old has yet to sign a new deal despite there being an option of a one-year extension in his current contract and there will be no shortage of clubs chasing his signature in the summer should he decide to depart Old Trafford.

Featured Image: All Rights Reserved Hattori Hanzo (Hattori Hanzo)

Martyn is currently a PTA and Research Assistant in the Department of Exercise Science at the Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU). In addition to his teaching role he is also undertaking a PhD in Sports History that is exploring the origins and development of football in Staffordshire. Prior to working at MMU, Martyn spent a decade operating in the sport and leisure industry in a variety of roles including as a Sports Development Officers, PE Teacher, Football Coach and Operation Manager.


Jack Wilshere’s injury shows why Arsenal shouldn’t renew his contract

The 26-year-old has been struck down by yet another injury.

Jake Jackman



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Jack Wilshere will be pleased with the progress that he has made since returning to Arsenal from his loan spell at Bournemouth.

He was initially nothing more than a squad player that was out in the cold at international level too, but the midfielder worked hard to gain more game-time in North London.

Across all competitions, he has played more than 30 matches and his form earned him a call-up to the England squad.

It looked like he was getting a once-promising career back on track, but almost like clockwork, he has suffered an injury to set him back once again.

Gareth Southgate confirmed that he wouldn’t be travelling to the Netherlands for Friday’s match and the quotes were reported by Sky Sports.

“It is not a specific injury and over time they flare up and they need to settle down over a couple of days.

“We are hopeful it will settle down pretty quickly. It’s an ongoing problem and it’s not something new for him. He’s very disappointed not to be involved in the game.

“He’s trained well though but if you think about the journey he’s had in the last two years and his big injuries then he’s progressing really well.”

Although it is encouraging that it isn’t a serious injury, it is a reminder that Jack Wilshere remains a risk for both club and country.

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It is difficult to build a team around a player that is susceptible to miss matches and the quote from Southgate is a worry as he refers to an ongoing problem.

Arsenal have had a difficult campaign and they will be planning a rebuild over the next 48 months as they transition away from the Arsene Wenger era.

They will have to make tough decisions on many players at the club and Wilshere’s future will be brought into focus over the next few weeks as his contract expires at the end of the season.

There have been numerous reports regarding contract talks between the two parties and there is hesitancy on both sides.

This latest injury suffered by Wilshere and the comments from Southgate referring to an ongoing problem show why it is Arsenal who need to end this association.

Wilshere can’t be relied on to stay fit and to feature prominently in a busy schedule. Arsenal will have ambitions of challenging at the very top of the game and will likely be involved in European competition every season. They need to have a squad of players that are reliable and the 26-year-old isn’t that.

Aside from that, Wilshere represents what Arsenal have become over the last decade. He is a player that had a lot of potential, but he has failed to fulfil it and been very inconsistent at the highest level. Of course, he isn’t to blame for the club’s problems, but he is also unlikely to offer the solutions.

This season has been a nice farewell campaign for him. It would have been sad if his Gunners’ career had ended after being shipped out on loan to Bournemouth.

He has returned to earn some of his credibility back, but the club need to move on and progress if they are to get back to the top of the English game.

A lot of contentious decisions will need to be made and the first should be the release of Jack Wilshere this summer.

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Manchester United

Why Jose Mourinho’s treatment of Luke Shaw has crossed the line

The Portuguese manager has been highly critical of Luke Shaw this season.

Rob Meech



Luke Shaw
Photo: Getty Images

The fractious relationship between Jose Mourinho and Luke Shaw plumbed new depths when the left-back was substituted at half-time in Manchester United’s FA Cup victory over Brighton & Hove Albion. The 22-year-old had been handed a rare opportunity to impress at Old Trafford but lasted only 45 minutes.

Speaking about Shaw in his post-match interview, Mourinho said: “Luke, in the first half, every time they came in his corridor, the cross came in and a dangerous situation was coming. I was not happy with his performance.”

The differences between the pair now appear to be irreconcilable. Shaw, who was signed by Louis van Gaal in the summer of 2014, has been used sparingly by Mourinho. The former Southampton starlet has made just 18 Premier League appearances under the Portuguese in a career that has been blighted by injuries.

Being substituted at half-time is almost as embarrassing as it gets for a player and Shaw’s mood will not have improved after being publicly criticised by his manager. It’s certainly not the first time Mourinho has chosen to talk candidly to the media about his concerns with the 22-year-old.

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Some players require an arm around the shoulder to perform at their peak, while for others it takes a kick up the backside. Mourinho, opting for the latter, does nothing without reason and has clearly tried to spark a reaction from Shaw, without success.

From being one of English football’s brightest prospects after making his World Cup debut aged just 18, Shaw, who has seven England caps to his name, is in danger of not fulfilling the potential that convinced United to spend what was then a world-record fee for a teenager.

Mourinho’s tactic of singling out individuals who have not met his standards is in stark contrast to Sir Alex Ferguson, who never blamed his players in public. It has divided opinion among pundits, with Southampton legend Matt Le Tissier claiming the United manager is ‘destroying’ Shaw.

Mourinho is an expert at using smokescreens to distract from his side’s unconvincing performances. And this latest controversy has moved the narrative on from United’s shock Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.

(Photo by Lindsey Parnaby/Getty Images)

Tough love is one thing, but the sustained, public attack on Shaw is unacceptable. If Mourinho genuinely believes he is not good enough to represent United, then fair enough. But to continually vilify the youngster’s performances is a step too far and one that could irreparably damage Shaw’s confidence.

This is not to say that Shaw is a completely innocent bystander. Mourinho’s predecessor, Louis van Gaal, also questioned his desire and general conditioning when he joined United four years ago. Indeed, the Dutchman signed Shaw up to a tailored exercise regime in an effort to improve his fitness.

But while van Gaal’s treatment had the desired effect, Mourinho’s has done the opposite. Being publicly humiliated on a routine basis does neither party any favours.

In all likelihood, Shaw’s disappointing United career will come to an end this summer. A fresh start away from the toxicity under Mourinho is exactly what he needs.

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English Premier League

Keanan Bennetts has perfect opportunity to impress Mauricio Pochettino this week

The left-sided star has a chance to impress in first-team training during the international break.



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With the international week in full flow, plenty of teams in the Premier League have seen their squads diminished by call-ups to national teams.

Tottenham Hotspur are one such side. Nonetheless, with most of the first-team squad away with their respective nations, work continues at Hotspur Way.

In order for Spurs to have a full complement in training, plenty of young talent needs to be pulled in to the ranks.

Mauricio Pochettino will, therefore,e get a chance to see some of his young players training with regular first-team players such as Fernando Llorente, Erik Lamela and Lucas Moura.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

One player who will be training with the first-team this week is talented wide-man Keanan Bennetts, according to London Live.

The 19-year-old left-winger has been catching the eye for the club’s youth team in recent weeks, making the news after scoring a fantastic goal for the under-19s against Monaco in the UEFA Youth League last month.

Bennetts has also been attracting interest for his positional dexterity. The wide-man has played at left-back in recent times and it could be that is his future best position.

This week he will be up against some excellent players such as Lamela and Moura, who did not receive selection to the Argentina and Brazil national teams, respectively.

If he can prove himself with this calibre of player, Pochettino will have to take notice.

(Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

It is coming to a point in his Tottenham career when Bennetts has to make such an impact. The teenager is out of contract at Spurs in the summer and needs to ensure he is kept on for at least one more season.

Tottenham fans who follow the youth teams are certain he is deserving of such a chance. If he can show Pochettino what he is capable of this week, then a new deal will surely be in the pipeline for the talented wide-man.

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