The Premier League Bargain Bin

It’s that time of the year, when the season comes to a slow and inevitable end. With only one weekend and the Champions League final away from the official close to the season, attention has already starting shifting towards transfer rumours, with big movers and shakers set to write their own headlines this summer. Unlike prior years, the relegation battle in the Premier League has not gone down to the wire on the last day despite the small point gaps between the teams of the bottom half, QPR and Reading were confirmed as relegated almost 2 weeks ago and Wigan, after seasons of nail-biting, kicking and screaming their way to safety have finally been slated for relegation after their 4-1 loss to Arsenal. Between these three clubs, despite their relegated status, contains quality players that deserve to remain at Premier League standards. Here in The Bargain Bin, I’ll be covering the potential steals, the clubs that would be keen to sign them, the price at which they’ll go for and an overall rating for each player highlighted.

The Bargain Bin

1. Queens Park Rangers (QPR)
2. Reading
3. Wigan Athletic

Park Ji Sung

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Age: 32
Club: QPR
Position: MR/L, CM, CAM
Potential value: 2 million pounds

The first Korean player to win the Premier League and Champions League, dubbed “The Nation’s Captain” by his country, and possibly the greatest Korean player to ever live, Park Ji Sung has fallen from such lofty heights after his transfer from Manchester United. Being made club captain was an odd choice by Hughes when there were more influential members like Clint Hill and Ryan Nelsen; Ji Sung may be hard-working and determined, but nevertheless he doesn’t exude that leader-like charisma and swagger needed to marshal and galvanise a team. Combine that with aging legs of a player on the wrong side of 30 and you’ve got a recipe for disappointment, as shown by a poor season by Ji Sung’s high standards.

In 19 appearances this season, he’s achieved an average of 6.58 according to Whoscored.com. Defensively, he averages 2.5 tackles a game, 1.1 interceptions and 0.7 fouls. In his final days at United, Ji Sung had moulded his game to that of a defensive winger, providing that extra running and legs to harass and press the opposition and his defensive prowess definitely shines through from the stats above. Offensively, he averages 1.3 key passes, a pass completion % of 83.8 with 3 assists. It’s clear that Ji Sung has definitely lost a fair portion the subtle offensive capacities that thrilled PSV and United but nevertheless he’s still a solid defensive outlet and in good physical shape. He’s a model professional, a  proven international with a bucketful of experience that will come in handy to any team.

Potential teams: Teams that would need a versatile utility player around the midfield area. Fulham, West Ham or Norwich would be a good fit for Mr. Three-Lungs.

Rating: 7/10

Julio Cesar


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Age: 33
Club: QPR
Position: Goalkeeper
Potential transfer value: 2 million pounds

Much like Park Ji Sung, Julio Cesar has fallen a long way down in the footballing world. Once considered one of the world’s best shot-stoppers bar Casillas, Cesar now finds himself keeping the sticks in unfancied QPR. The possessor of lightning reflexes, he’s saved QPR from additional embarrassment in multiple matches and his performances even granted him a recall into the national side, a sheer mark of his talent and capabilities. He may be 33 but by goalkeeping standards he still has a fair way to go (Jussi, Friedel and VDS played till they were 40) and has the experience and capacity to put a good shift in for any top-tier side.

Potential teams: Officially confirmed to be leaving the club, Arsenal would be the only ideal fit in the Premier League but there are other teams like AC Milan and AS Roma keeping an eye out for the Brazillian Jay Leno lookalike.

Rating: 7.5/10

Esteban Granero


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Age: 25
Club: QPR
Position: AMC/AMR/CM
Potential transfer value: 5 million

Once considered the hot prospect of world football alongside names like Juan Mata and Javi Garcia, Granero, like many of Mark Hughes’ haphazard signings, has fallen from grace. El Pirata has not enjoyed the same level of success that his compatriots in Mata, Cazorla, Michu revel in and he has not done much to enhance his reputation. Lacklustre and disinterested performances has drawn criticism and there’s still doubts regarding his ability to adapt to the English game. Despite this his key attributes still shine, his passing, technique and shooting skills are still top-notch and offensively, he has contributed 2 key passes a game, an accurate cross a game, 3.2 accurate long balls a game and an 83.3% pass completion rate. Perhaps in the company of better players that are able to allow him to carry about his job without fuss, El Pirata might just have his name mentioned in the same breath as his compatriots next season.

Potential teams: Swansea might be keen to add to their Spanish armada, while Norwich might want that little creative spark in offence. Sunderland could do alot worse than El Pirata to help reduce the burden in attack on Sessegnon.

Rating: 7/10

Loic Remy


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Age: 26
Club: QPR
Position: ST
Potential transfer value: 10 million pounds

Remy was signed on to score goals to keep QPR safe; in a way he’s achieved half of what he was bought for. 6 goals in 13 appearances is not terribly impressive but considering the defensive, rigid nature of QPR under Redknapp, such a tally is a good effort and creates a tantalizing prospect of knowing how much more he’s capable of if he was in a better team with better service. The scorer of wonderful goals, he’s reminiscent of another electric French forward with a classy finish in Theirry Henry. While some (myself included) would consider it a sin to compare the two, it cannot be denied that both have similar styles. Offensively Remy takes 2.8 shots per game with 1.1 key passes a game. Not the best dribbler with 0.8 dribbles per game but he’s built his game around poaching so it’s not a terribly bad stat to have. Remy would be an ideal purchase for a club looking for a mercurial, lightning striker who’s about to enter his prime. Not to mention he is a Ligue 1 winner. If that makes a difference.

Potential teams: Tottenham, who need someone to pick up Defoe’s slack when he’s off-form. Arsenal, who need someone to pick up Giroud’s slack when he’s useless. Newcastle would be interested as well. Swansea might also be interested.

Rating: 7.5/10

Alex McCarthy


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Age: 22
Club: Reading
Position: GK
Potential transfer value: 2-4 million pounds

Alex McCarthy first came into the major limelight when he single handedly kept Liverpool out for a full 90 minutes, making an astonishing 27 saves that game to leave the scoreline as Alex McCarthy 0 – Liverpool 0. Prior to that stand-out match, a string of promising performances from the young keeper early in the season prior to his shoulder injury had piqued the interest of a number of clubs, who were keen to add the talented young shot-stopper to their squad, and after a successful return to the first-team picture, would probably still be keen to do so. The possessor of quick reflexes, agile and quick on his feet, McCarthy has the makings of a good goalkeeper and would definitely be one to watch in the future. 

Potential teams: West-ham will be looking for someone to replace Jussi, Sunderland, who would be resigned to losing Mignolet or even Everton, who would want a replacement for Tim Howard with Mucha not providing that same stability.

Rating: 7/10

 

Shaun Maloney

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Age: 30
Club: Wigan Athletic
Position: AMC/AML
Potential transfer value: 3-5 million pounds

Roberto Martinez was once ridiculed for calling Maloney “the perfect no. 10” when he purchased the diminutive Scotsman from Celtic for less than a million. A season later and a stellar form that has seen Maloney pick up 6 goals and 8 assists in 35 appearances, an FA Cup winners medal and numerous plaudits from the same critics that ridiculed him, Maloney has established himself as one of the league’s creative players, a dynamic, all-action attacking midfielder who has that spark to change games. A superb passer of the ball (1.8 key passes a game and a 89.8% pass completion rate), a ferocious shooter and a dead-ball specialist, Maloney would be a key asset to any team in the Premier League. 

Potential teams: Sunderland, who desperately need a creative spark in their attack. Norwich, who would welcome his all-action displays upfront. Fulham, who might see him as an ideal partner to Berbatov or even Everton or West Brom.

Rating: 8/10

 

James McCarthy


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Age: 22
Club: Wigan Athletic
Postion: CM/DM
Potential transfer value: 5-7 million pounds

One of the rising stars of the Premier League, James McCarthy has quickly established himself as the heartbeat of Wigan Athletic alongside his partner in crime and fellow namesake James McArthur. Having impressed throughout the season with mature and solid displays, McCarthy has established himself as a Premier League standard midfielder, able to stand toe-to-toe against far superior midfields. Across 37 starts, he has accumulated 3 goals and 2 assists. Defensively, he has contributed 2.6 tackles a game, 2 interceptions a game, 1.6 clearances a game and 1.2 fouls committed, showing that McCarthy has the potential to be a solid defensive outlet in the midfield. Passing-wise, he has a solid 87.6% pass completion rate and is one of the league’s long-ball specialist with 4.6 accurate long balls per game. Offensively he has alot to work on with only 1 key pass a game. Creativity may not be McCarthy’s key strength, but nevertheless he has proven to be a solid defensive outlet that helps recycle possession. 

Potential teams: Arsenal, though they have Arteta, they would definitely want some depth in the defensive midfield role. Fulham would want a player of his quality to ease the burden on an aging midfield. Norwich wouldn’t mind his all-action role and even Swansea might take a fancy to him as a replacement for Leon Britton.

Rating: 7.5/10

 

And that wraps up the Bargain Bin for this Premier League season. These are the players most deserving of a move from the respective clubs so keep an eye out for them during this transfer window!

Honourable Mentions:
Adel Taarabt, Stephane Mbia, Chris Samba, Junior Hoilett, Le Fondre, Hal-Robson Kanu, Sean Morrison, Arouna Kone, James McArthur, Jean Beausejour, Callum Mcmanaman.

Ferguson. Scotsman. Manager. Legend.

As of 8th May 2013, Alexander Chapman Ferguson, better known to many as Sir Alex Ferguson has announced that he’ll retire at the end of the season on his 1500th game in charge of Manchester United when United faces off against West Brom.

Over the course of his 26 odd years in charge of United, he has won a staggering 38 trophies including 13 of United’s 20 titles and 2 Champions League trophies. He has crafted team after team of staggering quality, spirit and indomitable fortitude. From the craft and flair of players like Ronaldo, Cantona, Beckham, to the goal machines of Ruud Van Nistelrooy, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Mark Hughes, and the brute strength and steel of players like Steve Bruce, Nemanja Vidic, Roy Keane, Robson and Jaap Stam. And let’s not forget the silent workmen of Ferguson’s era at United, Park “Three-Lungs” Ji Sung, Dennis Irwin and the Neville brothers. The quality of players that Ferguson has overseen through his time at the club is immense and could easily fill up 5 squads of indisputable class. Such a statement is sheer testament to Ferguson’s quality in selecting, training and nurturing character, skill and class in his players.

The will to win, the fierce determination, the strict discipline and standards to which he holds himself and his players is something Ferguson will always be famous for. His “My Way or the Highway” approach to management has often seen players the likes of Beckham, Heinze, Stam, Ince leave the club in acrimonious circumstances but inspite of this, United has continue to stand strong with the club full of players with character and strong mentalities (something Ferguson admired and rewarded) as a result of Fergie’s strict rule.

Despite the common impression of Ferguson as an angry Scotsman, it’s often surprising that Ferguson is in fact quite the opposite. A fiercely loyal and caring father figure to many players, his patience and faith in his player’s abilities is legendary. Players like Carrick and Evans can testify to such patience. An active spokesman for the Manager’s Union in England, he may be ruthless on the pitch, but off it, he often looks out for the newer managers and ensures that they are treated well and in a fair manner by club owner.

There’s many things to be said about Ferguson and many more things to be said about his massive reign at United. But for now, there will be nothing but silence from United supporters and fans, mourning the departure of the greatest manager the game will ever see.

Tara Fergie. You magnificent bastard. A winner till the end.

#thanksfergie

The Bargain Bin

So with end of most major leagues in the world comes the despair and sorrow of relegated clubs. And when the news of relegation comes the inevitable need to cut costs while attempting to raise revenue, usually by selling the club’s higher profile players at a bargain price to lower the wage budget and raise some money for the next season. And with the relegated clubs this season, there is a whole host of quality players that are gonna be available for an absolute bargain and I’m gonna take a look at the possible ‘bargain bin’ transfers and the clubs that they’d be suitable for.

Edit: Due to contractual clauses in these players contract, some may go for free. In which case, add about +1 to their rating.

Barclays Premier League (England):
Clubs relegated:
Bolton
Blackburn Rovers
Wolves

Surprises here in the BPL and three supposed regular mainstays in the league have been relegated this season after truly horrendous seasons while the three clubs that have been promoted, Swansea, QPR and Norwich have all survived the drop. And despite the terrible form of the relegated clubs, there are still gems of players in their squads, players whom any Premier League club would be delighted to take into their squad. And these are the players

Junior Hoilett:

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Age: 21
Position: Left/Right Winger
Value: 7 million pounds

David ‘Junior’ Hoilett is one of Blackburn’s star performers of this season, providing speed and guile down both flanks. The possessor of lightning quick pace akin to Walcott albeit with better dribbling skills, Junior Hoilett is a raw talented youngster with alot of potential. In 34 appearances he has notched up 7 goals and 6 assists, which may not sound like much, but considering the team he was in and his potential, those are promising stats. While his key attributes remain his speed, dribbling and creative flair, his consistency and decision-making still remain suspect at times, which is forgivable considering his age and the fact that he has plenty of time to grow and mature. Though he is valued at 7 million pounds, it is rumoured that there is a clause in his contract that allows him to walk for free should Rovers get relegated (which they did) so he’s a free agent, which only drives his bargain bin rating through the roof.

Suitability:
A perfect signing for a mid-table club like Everton or Sunderland, and a promising rotation option for bigger clubs like Liverpool. It is rumoured that even Bayern Munich is looking at him to possibly replace their aging flying wingers in Robben and Ribery. Either way Hoilett is going to be on the move this summer and great things will be expected of him at the club he chooses

Bargain rating: 8/10

Matt Jarvis

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Age: 25
Position: Left Winger
Value: 7 million pounds

Matt Jarvis has been on the rise since the tail end of the 2010/2011 season and at the start of this season, providing a constant threat down the left wing of Wolves. A throw-back to classic English wingers, he’s fairly pacy, has a good work-rate and possesses a good cross. He may have suffered a midseason lull and was then forced to have the calamitous experience of having to be under the clueless leadership of Terry Conner but despite this, Jarvis still managed 8 goals and 6 assists in 39 matches, which shows a glimpse of his capabilities if he was in a better managed team.

Suitability:
Like Hoilett, Jarvis would be a suitable as a good option for mid-table clubs, and I personally would peg Norwich to pick him up. Jarvis would also make a decent back-up rotation option for bigger clubs, like Arsenal or United. His pricing may be inflated, being home-grown, but if he performs like he can, then he’d be an absolute bargain.

Bargain rating: 7.5/10

Wayne Hennessey

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Age: 25
Position: Goalkeeper
Value: 3.5 million pounds

Another victim of the poorly managed Wolves squad, Wayne Hennessey still remains their stand-out performer, bravely manning his posts and was the solid rock behind his leaky defense. Despite his best efforts, Wolves still floundered but on the bright side for Hennessey, there will be a host of clubs that would want a goalkeeper of his quality. A good aerial presence, sharp reflexes and solid handling, Wayne Hennessey would be a solid keeper for his transfer value.

Suitability:
Bottom-half clubs like QPR, Stoke or Aston Villa. He’d be able to walk right into their first-team set-up barring Aston Villa and would perform well. A good back-up that can push for first team in top-half clubs like Fulham, WBA, Newcastle or Tottenham.

Bargain rating: 7/10

Lee Chung Yong

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Age: 23
Position: Right Winger
Value: 5 million pounds

Lee Chung Yong has been the victim of a horrible broken leg sustained during preseason and has been out for almost the entire season and then became a relegation victim. Despite this his track-record has been impressive, been named Bolton’s Player of the Season during 10/11 and has shown promise during his playing time. While his come-back from his injury has not been stellar, his potential as a creative attacking outlet makes him a good purchase for a fairly cheap price.

Suitability:
Lee Chung-Yong would be suitable for mid-table sides and should slot well into sides like Fulham, WBA, Swansea or even Wigan Athletic.

Bargain rating: 6.5/10

Morten Gamst Pedersen

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Age: 30
Position: Central Midfielder/Left Midfielder
Value: 5 million pounds

Morten Gamst Pedersen has established himself as one of the Premier League’s more experienced midfielders. A good passer of the ball and a killer set-piece specialist, he provides a fair amount of creativity and consistency to the midfield.

Suitability:
Given his age, he’d probably be suitable for the bottom half clubs like Villa. Or considering that Scharner is leaving WBA, his gap in midfield can be filled by Morten Gamst Pedersen.

Bargain Rating: 6/10 (given his age)

Adam Bogdan

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Age: 24
Position: Goalkeeper
Value: 2 million pounds

Adam Bogdan, the man who managed to replace Jussi Jasskelainen as Bolton’s No. 1, which is no mean feat considering the consistent high standard performances delivered to Bolton by the trusty Finish keeper. Bogdan may be a young keeper, and the perpetrator of some of the league’s worst goalkeeping mistakes (think Chelsea’s rout of Bolton earlier in the season), but towards midseason and the end of the season, he began to steady and displayed some terrific goalkeeping. An excellent goalkeeper on a good day, Adam Bogdan is a decent keeper with potential to grow.

Suitability: Bottom half clubs. Would do well as the understudy to Shay Given at Aston Villa.

Bargain rating: 6/10

Jamie O’Hara

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Age: 25
Position: Central Midfielder
Value: 5 million pounds

Another stand-out performer from a poor Wolves team, O’Hara has provided creativity and incision to the Wolves midfield and deceptively good at set-pieces and arguably could’ve changed Wolves’ fortune had he not been injured on such a regular basis. At his age, he can still grow and can provide some quality to the midfield.

Suitability:
O’Hara would fit well in clubs that prize passing quality in the middle of the park like Swansea or Wigan.

Bargain rating: 6/10

Steven N’Zonzi

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Age: 23
Position: Defensive Midfield
Value: 4.5 million pounds

Steven N’Zonzi, once rated to be the next Patrick Viera has flattered to deceive this season, neither stellar nor atrociously bad, he has largely flown under the radar this season. Still showing glimpses of the talent that has made him such hot property to clubs like Arsenal, he is capable of blending technique with powerful runs, but whether or not he can raise his game, is dependent on which club is keen to take a risk on him.

Suitability:
N’Zonzi would be a good fit for teams that like power in their midfield, Stoke may want to look at him if they want a juggernaut with a touch of finesse in their gritty midfield. Teams like Fulham or WBA can do alot worse than sign him as well.

Bargain Rating: 6.5/10

Simon Vukcevic

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Age:26
Position: Right Winger/ Central Midfielder
Value: 3 million

Once rumored to have United looking out for him, Vukcevic has not lived up to the expectations (whatever little there was) of him. A technical maestro and a dead-ball specialist, he has not exactly lit up the Premier League with only 2 goals and 2 assists in 11 appearances. Nevertheless, he still represents a bargain at a transfer value of 3 million.

Suitability:
A good back-up option for mid-table clubs. Swansea might want to look at him if they are unable to secure Siguurdsson.

Bargain Rating: 5.5/10

Steven Fletcher

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Age:25
Position: Striker
Value: 7 million pounds

Steven Fletcher has had a decent season, scoring 12 goals and recording 3 assists in 32 matches. A well-rounded striker who has a knack for being there at the right place at the right time, he possesses good finishing, a firm header and has a good balance of speed and strength. A good striker who is experienced in the rigours of the Premier League

Suitability:
A shoo-in for hardworking clubs like Norwich or WBA, who would be looking for more striking options beside Morrison and Holt, Long and Odemwingie respectively. Would do well in clubs like Everton as a back-up striker to Jelavic.

Bargain rating: 7/10

Yakubu Aiyegbeni

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Age: 29
Position: Striker
Value: 7 million pounds

“Feed the Yak and he’ll score”. That saying held true this season as Yakubu fired home an impressive 17 goals in 30 matches, almost a goal every other game. Once much maligned at Everton for being extremely wasteful and generally useless, he seemingly blossomed for Blackburn, and had his goals saved them from relegation he would’ve been worth alot more than he is currently. But regardless, his eye for goal and brute strenght makes him a dangerous centre-forward and on a good day (and with adequate feeding), he is unstoppable.

Suitability:
Honestly, bringing Yakubu to Blackburn was already such a gamble and bringing him back from the brink of Championship would be a gamble as well. All that can be said is that if club that brings him in feeds him well, they’ll have a deadly striker on their hands.

Bargain rating: 7/10 (his price for his age may be a stumbling block)

Pictures sourced from Wikipedia and Google Images.