Free Agents: 8 Players Who Would Not Cost Your Club a Penny

Pre-season is now in full flow, and clubs are looking to get their transfer business done ahead of their respective leagues resuming. 

Fans love to hear about the rumours of big-money signings. It shows ambition, and brings excitement that your club can attract the best players.​

Yet it is not all about the most expensive players as there are some absolute bargains to be had elsewhere. And when we say bargains, we mean freebies….players who don’t actually have contracts or any cost attached to them!

Here’s eight such players who could be rather handy and cost you diddly squat..


Mario Balotelli

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The Italian forward seems to have been around forever, but he is still only 28. Having moved from club to club across a variety of countries, he is now looking for a new club after his contract with Marseille ended last month.

It would be a gamble to sign Balotelli given his widely-publicised off-field indiscretions. ​Yet he does offer quality on the pitch, scoring eight goals in 15 Ligue 1 appearances for Marseille last season to show that he is far from a spent force. Perhaps a gamble worth taking.


Fernando Llorente

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Llorente only netted two league goals in as many seasons for Tottenham, hardly eye-catching numbers. He also missed from three yards in the Champions League semi-final against Ajax last season, before Lucas Moura spared his blushes. He is probably still thanking Moura to this day for that.

He does possess positive attributes though. The way he unsettled Matthijs de Ligt in the Champions League was impressive, ​whilst he also held the ball up well when he got his chance due to Harry Kane picking up an ankle problem. Four league assists last season highlight his ability to bring others in to the game. 

He is 34, but pace has never been his strength, so his age should not be a concern. Llorente may still have a couple of good years left in the game.


Dani Alves

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Alarm bells might start ringing with Alves when you hear about his age. He is 36. However, he does not appear to be done just yet.

The full back, who has won the Champions League on three occasions, recently captained Brazil to the Copa America title, as they beat Peru 3-1 in the final. This shows that he has plenty still to offer.

The experience that he brings with him after winning trophies in Spain, Italy and France would be invaluable for any side. Expect him to get another big move in the coming weeks.


Hatem Ben Arfa

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Ben Arfa has had his fair share of issues throughout his career. ​Falling out with managers has become common place, whilst he has struggled with weight problems at times as well.

However, one thing is for certain: he is supremely talented. Fans of the Premier League will remember him dazzling for Newcastle in their superb 2011-12 season, and he has been producing moments of magic in France since then.

Last season he scored seven goals and provided two assists in Ligue 1 for Rennes. Now he is seeking a new challenge and he will surely receive an offer before the window shuts.


Daniel Sturridge

Daniel Sturridge

It had all looked so good for Sturridge. He scored 22 Premier League goals in the 2013/14 campaign, nearly taking Liverpool to the title, and continued that form in to that year’s World Cup, netting in the opening game against Italy. Sadly, that tournament went downhill quickly for England, and the same can be said for Sturridge’s career. 

In the six seasons since, Sturridge has scored just 19 league goals, and has been plagued with injuries. It was no great shock to see him released by Liverpool this summer. 

His next career move is crucial. The forward is 29 and needs to hit the ground running when he finds a club. He has proved that he can do it before and will hope that he can produce at the top level again.


Gary Cahill

Gary Cahill

Cahill endured a nightmare season last year, as Maurizio Sarri cast him aside when he walked through the door at Chelsea. 

The England international is a proven winner though, having claimed two Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy in his career. Having hardly featured last season, he will have to get back up to speed quickly.

Will his level have dropped that much in one season? That remains to be seen, but Cahill has experience on his side, and will believe that he can get back to his best. He may get the chance to prove it next season.


Yacine Brahimi

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Brahimi impressed at Porto last season, enjoying his highest scoring league campaign with the club, netting ten goals. He also made his mark in the Champions League, as the side reached the quarter-finals before exiting to the eventual winners, Liverpool.

After five seasons in Portugal, he is looking for his next move. At the age of 29, it is fair to assume that he is currently at his peak. As he is available on a free, expect someone to snap him up before too long.


Filipe Luis

Filipe Luis

Chelsea fans may remember Luis, though perhaps not too fondly. The Brazilian left back did not make too much of an impact in his one season at Stamford Bridge, before returning to Atletico Madrid ​in 2015.

That does not make Luis a poor player. He has shown his class for Diego Simeone’s side over the years, helping the team to a La Liga title and two Europa League triumphs.

Now approaching his 34th birthday, Luis is coming towards the end of his career, yet his reading of the game could entice clubs to make a move to acquire his services.


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Golden Boy 2019 Nominees: 100-Man Shortlist Reduced to 80

The Golden Boy 2019 nominees list has been whittled down to 80, with English stars Jadon Sancho, Phil Foden and Callum Hudson-Odoi all still in the hunt. 

Italian publication Tuttosport initially released a list of 100 nominees for the under-21 award, with a public vote determining who made it through to the next stage. That reduced shortlist has now been unveiled, with voting open once more for the next round.

In the first crop, there were 16 English representatives, but this has now been shortened to 12, with Manchester United’s Angel Gomes, Borussia Monchengladbach’s Keanan Bennetts, Liverpool’s Rhian Brewster and Arsenal’s Charlie Gilmour among those to drop out. 

However, alongside frontrunners Sancho (with the Borussia Dortmund man the particularly hot favourite to take home the award), Foden and Hudson-Odoi, there was still plenty of cause for optimism, especially for the London sides. 

All of Chelsea’s three English candidates remain, with Dujon Sterling and Mason Mount rounding up the domestic list alongside Wales’ Ethan Ampadu and the Ivorian Marc Guehi. 

The same goes for Arsenal, who retain Eddie Nketiah, Reiss Nelson and Joe Willock as well as Frenchman Mateo Guendouzi, while north London rivals ​Tottenham still boast both Tashan Oakley-Boothe and Oliver Skipp.

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Wolves’ Morgan Gibbs-White completes the anglo list, while other prominent names include recent Atletico Madrid signing Joao Felix, Juventus’ Moise Kean, last year’s winner and newly confirmed Juve player Matthijs de Ligt, Roma’s Nicolo Zaniolo and Real Madrid’s Brazilian pair of Vinicius Jr and Rodrygo.

The full list of remaining nominees is as follows (notable players in bold): 

1) Habeeb Omobolaji Adekanye (Lazio)

2) Yacine Adli, (Bordeaux)

3) Ethan Ampadu (Chelsea)

4) Brahim Diaz (Real Madrid)

5) Lazar Carevic (Barcelona)

6) Tahith Chong (Manchester United) 

7) Samuel Chimerenka Chukwueze (Villarreal) 

8) Michaël Cuisance (Borussia Monchengladbach) 

9) Matthijs de Ligt (Ajax/Juventus)

10) Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen)

11) Krépin Diatta (Club Bruges) 

12) Diogo Dalot (Manchester United) 

13) Diogo Leite (Porto)

14) Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan) 

15) Jurgen Ekkelenkamp (Ajax) 

16) Eljif Elmas (Fenerbahce) 

17) Philip Walter Foden (Manchester City) 

18) Carvalho Gedson Fernandes (Benfica) 

19) Morgan Anthony Gibbs-White (Wolverhampton Wanderers)

20) Amine Ferid Gouiri (Olympique Lyonnais) 

21) Kamil Grabara (Liverpool) 

22) Mattéo Olié Guendouzi (Arsenal) 

23) Marc Guehi (Chelsea) 

24) Erling Haland (Red Bull Salzburg) 

25) Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen) 

26) Juan Camilo Suarez Hernandez (Watford)

27) Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea) 

28) Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad) 

29) Joao Felix (Atletico Madrid

30) João Pedro Neves Filipe Jota (Benfica)

31) Dejan Jovelijic (Eintracht Frankfurt) 

32) Boubacar Kamara (Olympique Marseille) 

33) Moise Kean (Juventus) 

34) Justin Kluivert (AS Roma)

35) Sékou Koita (Red Bull Salzburg)

36) Ibrahima Konate (RB Leipzig) 

37) Alban Lafont (Nantes) 

38) Diego Leyva Lainez (Real Betis)

39) Da Cunha Leandro Fernandes (Juventus) 

40) Kang-in Lee (Valencia)

41) Andrij Oleksijovyc Lunin (Real Madrid) 

42) Arne Maier (Hertha Berlin) 

43) Donyell Malen (PSV Eindhoven) 

44) Manuel Ariño Manu Morlanes (Villarreal)

45) Jaqueson Ferreira dos Santos Mauro Junior (PSV Eindhoven)

46) Geremias Mesaque Dju (West Ham United) 

47) Mason Mount (Chelsea)

48) Patricio Nehuen Perez (Atletico Madrid) 

49) Reiss Luke Nelson (Arsenal) 

50) Edward Keddar Nketiah (Arsenal) 

51) Stanley Pierre Nsoki (Paris Saint-Germain) 

52) Tashan Oakley-Boothe (Tottenham Hotspur) 

53) Abdülkadir Ömur (Trabzonspor) 

54) Paulo Henrique Sampaio Filho Paulinho (Bayer Leverkusen)

55) Strahinja Pavlovic (Partizan Belgrade) 

56) Luca Pellegrini (Juventus) 

57) Andrea Pinamonti (Genoa)

58) Domingos Quina (Watford) 

59) Alexandre da Conceição Rafael Leao (Lille) 

60) Ricard Martí Riqui Puig (Barcelona) 

61) Silva de Goes Rodrygo (Real Madrid) 

62) Maximiliano Samuel Romero (PSV Eindhoven) 

63) Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund) 

64) Malang Sarr (Nice) 

65) Oliver Skipp (Tottenham Hotspur)  

66) Andreas Skov Olsen (FC Nordsjælland) 

67) Antonis Stergiakis (Slavia Sofia) 

68) Dujon Henriques Sterling (Chelsea) 

69) Moussa Sylla (AS Monaco) 

70) Sandro Tonali (Brescia)

71) Hamed Junior Traore (Sassoulo) 

72) Ikouwem Udoh Utin (Maccabi Haifa)  

73) Zinho Vanheusden (Standard Liege) 

74) José Paixão de Oliveira Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid) 

75) Sebastian Walukiewicz (Cagliari)

76) Timothy Tarpeh Weah (Lille)

77) Joseph George Willock (Arsenal)

78) Benjamin Woodburn (Liverpool)

79) Dan-Axel Zagadou (Borussia Dortmund) 

80) Nicolò Zaniolo (AS Roma) 


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Kawasaki Frontale vs Chelsea Preview: Where to Watch, Live Stream, Kick Off Time & Team News

​Chelsea and Kawasaki Frontale meet on Friday as the Blues continue their pre-season campaign under new manager Frank Lampard against the J1 League champions in the 72,000 seater Nissan Stadium in Yokohama. 

After a solid 4-0 win last time out against St Patrick’s Athletic in Dublin, they will be looking to continue that form here. 

They will be boosted by the arrival of Christian Pulisic, who has joined the squad for the first time since leaving Borussia Dortmund. He had been given extra time off following his involvement at the Gold Cup this summer with the USA.

Here’s everything you need to know about the clash.

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Where to Watch

​When Is Kick Off? ​Friday 19 July
​What Time Is Kick Off? ​11:00 (BST)
​Where Is it Played? ​Nissan Stadium, Yokohama
​TV Channel/Live Stream? ​Chelsea TV
​Referee? ​TBC

Team News

As mentioned previously, ​Chelsea will be welcoming Pulisic to the squad for the first time ​as he joined up with the squad for the first time, and he could feature from the outset.

​N’Golo Kante has stepped up his recovery programme after working closely with the fitness and physio staff to recover from a knee issue. With two games in Japan scheduled, including Barcelona on 23 July, we could see Kante feature in some capacity.


However, Chelsea will be without Ethan Ampadu, who hasn’t travelled to Japan as Lampard hopes to send the young Welshman out on loan.


Predicted Lineups

Chelsea ​Kepa; Azpilicueta, Zouma, Luiz, Emerson; Jorginho, Mount, Kovacic; Pulisic, Batshuayi, Giroud.

Head to Head Record

Chelsea in recent seasons have taken their pre-season to Asia but haven’t competed against Kawasaki Frontale before.

The Japanese side were head and shoulders above everyone else and qualified for the AFC Champions League in their 2018 campaign, but are currently third in the league this season, albeit with a game in hand.



Recent Form

Chelsea got their pre-season underway with a 1-1 draw Bohemians in Dublin, with ​Michy Batshuayi with the goal. Their second game was much improved as they produced a 4-0 victory over St Patrick’s Athletic, with Mason Mount, Emerson and Olivier Giroud among the goals.


Frontale are unbeaten in their last 15 competitive games, last losing a match in April.

Here’s how each side has featured in their last five games.

Chelsea Kawasaki Frontale​
​St. Patricks 0-4 Chelsea (13/7)  ​FC Tokyo 0-3 Kawasaki Frontale (14/7)
​Bohemians 1-1 Chelsea (10/7) ​Kawasaki Frontale 0-0 Sagan Tosu (7/7)
​Chelsea 4-1 Arsenal (29/5) ​Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 Meiji University (3/7)
​New England Revolution 0-3 Chelsea (16/5) ​Jubilo Iwata 1-3 Kawasaki Frontale (30/6)
​Leicester 0-0 Chelsea (12/5) ​Kawasaki Frontale 1-1 Consadole Sapporo (14/6)

Prediction

Overall, Chelsea should look to build on their recent 4-0 in Ireland with another victory here. This is their strongest pre-season squad so far and the inclusion of Pulisic should be a boost.

Expect a Chelsea win and you’d be silly to write off a potential debut goal for Pulisic.

Prediction: Kawasaki Frontale 0-3 Chelsea​

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Premier League Introduce Game-Changing ‘Head-to-Head’ Rule for 2019/20 Season

​As if we didn’t have enough change on the cards in the Premier League next season, with VAR and changes to the handball rule to get our heads around, the FA have thrown us another curve-ball, with the introduction of head-to-head records to separate teams in the division. 

Previously, when teams had finished level on points, goal difference had been used to decide who takes the higher position, with goals scored taking precedence if the former was level.

If sides could still not be separated by points, goal-difference or goals scored, however, under the previous rules, a playoff would be contested in order to decide league placing. 


Fortunately, that hasn’t yet been required, but after the title race last season came too close for comfort – with a playoff between ​Manchester City and ​Liverpool seeming like a genuine possibility prior to the last game of the season – the Premier League have ​moved to add a further layer to proceedings.

Should two sides finish level on points, goal difference and goals scored, the head-to-head record between the two sides will now come into consideration before a playoff is required. 

If the head-to-head record is level, then the higher position will be awarded to whichever side scored the most goals away from home. 

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It effectively means that the playoff rule, which was already extremely unlikely to ever come into effect, is now entirely redundant, with the chances of two sides finishing with identical records on all fronts looking next to impossible. 

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Olivier Giroud Reveals First Impressions of Chelsea ‘Legend’ Frank Lampard

Olivier Giroud has backed Frank Lampard as the right person to be in charge at Chelsea, claiming the whole squad is excited for the new season. 

Lampard signed a three-year deal this summer to replace the departing Maurizio Sarri as the Blues’ manager after the Italian left Stamford Bridge to join Serie A champions Juventus. 

Despite finishing third and winning the Europa League, Sarri struggled to win over the Chelsea faithful, with his tactics coming in for criticism.

Frank Lampard

Lampard, on the other hand, is a ​Chelsea legend, having finished his career as the club’s all-time top goalscorer, winning 13 trophies during his 13-year spell at Stamford Bridge. 

Prior to his appointment at Stamford Bridge, Lampard guided ​Derby County to the Championship playoff final last season, finishing sixth and beating ​Leeds over two legs before losing to ​Aston Villa 2-1, in what was an impressive debut managerial tenure. 

Having already experienced the first few training sessions under the new boss, World Cup winner ​Giroud explained how things have started under Lampard

He said – speaking to (Radio 5 Live Sports Extra): ”I like his energy and desire to always improve and win. We’ve been training very hard with high intensity.” 

Eden Hazard,Olivier Giroud

Chelsea have been banned from making new signings for the next two transfer windows by FIFA, following investigations into their purchases of foreign Under-18 players. Although the club are protesting at the Court of Arbitration of Sport, preparations for the upcoming season have to consider no changes to the current squad. 

Therefore, Chelsea academy players may play a big role in their season, a situation which, according to Giroud, Lampard can manage. 

The Frenchman added: ”I think he is the right person. He is basically a Chelsea legend.

”We all believe in his quality to improve the team and with the transfer ban it’s a good opportunity for the young players to show what they can do. Now we’re excited to play the first league game.”

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