In just under a week, the transfer window will slam shut. You can already sense the desperation of certain clubs, players and agents, which is why deals that looked dead are being suddenly resurrected. But there are some players who are desperate for a move to new surroundings that don’t look like going anywhere at the moment – let’s take a look at five players in need of an exit.
Dimitar Berbatov – Manchester United.
Everyone knows that the only reason the Bulgarian remains at Old Trafford is because the club unilateraly excerised a clause in his contract allowing them to extend his deal for another year. They don’t want or need him, he doesn’t particularly want to be there, but they don’t want to lose him for nothing. The arrival of Robin van Persie means Berbatov is now battling with the Dutchman, Rooney, Welbeck and Hernandez for a starting spot. Indeed it seems even Ferguson has forgotten he’s still at the club – when recently waxing lyrical about his attacking options he mentioned those four other strikers plus midfielders Nani and Kagawa. Berbatov is the elephant in the room. He needs a move, and needs one quick, before he follows Michael Owen down the path to total obscurity.
Has been linked with: Former club Bayer Leverkusen and German giants Bayern Munich are reportedly interested in taking him back to a country where he was such a success, while PSG were linked earlier in the summer but their signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic suggests the vacancy for a languid, moody forward has been filled. Closer to home another former club, Tottenham, were linked but having finalised a deal for Adebayor and reportedly still looking to sign Leandro Damao, it seems unlikely they’ll have room for Berba. Sunderland are still in the hunt for forwards and a move to the Stadium of Light shouldn’t be ruled out.
Michael Owen – Free Agent.
Being without a club as the new season kicked off must have been alien to Owen. Once he was all set to become England’s highest ever international goalscorer, these days he can’t even find a club, nevermind force his way into the international set up. Initially his shock move to Old Trafford made a bit of sense – Ferguson wanted an experienced forward, Owen wanted to prove he could still hack it at the very top. After a first hit-and-miss season though the fact that Owen chose to sign a new deal rather than try his luck at regular football elsewhere suggested that he had more concern for money to fund his real love, horseracing, than football. If he does still have that hunger to play – and it’s a big if – then he needs to find a move soon. And given he has said he won’t drop down to the Championship, his options are limited.
Has been linked with: Hardly anyone, if truth be told. A bid from ambitious Hull City was mooted but Owen won’t drop down a level, while boyhood club Everton have also been linked. It might be a good move for Owen but one wonders if the fans could look past his Liverpool connections. Stoke City have been most heavily linked, but I’d be unsure if Owen has the work rate Tony Pulis would demand. I wouldn’t be surprised in a shock bid from West Ham – Big Sam loves to rehabilitate players who everyone thinks are past it (witness Djorkaeff, Okocha, Davies, Diouf, Hierro, Ivan Campo) and even though he has a bevy of strikers he has talked about wanting someone with more Premier League nous – Owen has that in spades.
Roque Santa Cruz – Manchester City.
I know what you’re thinking – “he’s still there?”. Yes, despite loan spells over the last couple of years to former club Blackburn Rovers and Real Betis in Spain, Santa Cruz remains a City player, perhaps the final unwanted remnant of the Mark Hughes era. It’s highly likely the Paraguyan could leave for a nominal fee or a loan, though you would expect City would prefer a permanent deal to get his hefty pay packet off the wage bill. His wages may be a sticking point, it’s highly unlikely anyone would agree to pay City-esque wages to a striker who has not reached double figures since the 2007/08 season.
Has been linked with: A permanent transfer to Real Betis seemed likely but the move collapsed, with the Spanish club unable to meet his wage demands. Werder Bremen have been rumoured to want to take him back to Germany, while Mark Hughes has unsurprisingly been linked with a move for him. Werder Bremen appears to be his most likely destination, but don’t rule out Hughes making a bid to take him to QPR. He likes to buy what he knows.
Charlie Adam – Liverpool.
Liverpool’s central midfield area had already been well stocked by King Kenny and now, under Brendan Rodgers, it’s even less likely there will be room for a player who swings from the oafish to the sublime and prefers Hollywood balls to quick, two yard passes. He has stiff competition in the Anfield engine room – Steven Gerrard, Lucas Leiva, Jay Spearing, new signing Joe Allen and maybe even Joe Cole battling Adam for two spots. Someone is bound to go and while the goblin-faced Spearing – a willing but limited trier – may be allowed to leave, Adam’s chunky frame may follow. If he does leave he’d be wise to go to a team that would build the side around him, as Blackpool did.
Has been linked with: Merseyside rivals Everton…and that’s about it. It’s unlikely his current status as a Liverpool player would be a problem, with only one season under his belt and having not exactly played his way into the Kop’s good graces. He would add a bit of creativity to the Toffees’ midfield and probably be a more exciting option than Darron Gibson. At a reported price of £5m, he could end up being another David Moyes bargain.
Niklas Bendtner – Arsenal.
The Dane isn’t the only Arsenal forward in need of a move – I could have easily switched the names of Park Chu-Young or Marouane Chamakh for his – but Bendtner pehaps needs a move even more than those two forgotten men. He remains a frustrating player, a youngster of extraordinary potential who never seemed to improve enough, and yet on occasion shows flashes of the player he could be (and frankly, the player he seems to think he is). The next couple of years are make-or-break for him, he needs to prove he’s a good as he frequently claims he is – and he needs to do it somewhere other than Arsenal’s reserves.
Has been linked with: Sunderland, who were rumoured to be interested in making his loan move permanent, but that move seems to be dead in the water. Sporting Lisbon were interested last summer but do not seem to have renewed their interest. In fact it all seems quiet on the transfer rumour front for the Dane despite Arsene Wenger publicly admitting the player is available for transfer. Surely, for the right price, someone will take a punt on him?