Where Will They Go? The Top 5 Free Agents This Summer


DIDIER DROGBA

The Lowdown:

Chelsea's Champions League-winning talisman has privately told his team mates he's leaving Stamford Bridge. But at the ripe old age of 34, will he go east for a sojourn in China, or could he - following his heroics in Munich last week - be tempted by one last shot at the big time?

Shanghai Shenhua, coached by Drogba's ex strike partner Nicolas Anelka, are widely reported to have put an offer on the table and stand as 1.14 favourites in our market for the Ivorian's next club.

But big-budget Paris St Germain, situated in Drogba's former home city and managed by his ex-manager Carlo Ancelotti, look an interesting proposition at 8.00.

Meanwhile, fellow financial big-hitters Malaga have qualified for the Champions League and are actively seeking a big-name striker after Ruud Van Nistelrooy's recent retirement. The flush Spaniards are at 25.00 to lure big Didier to the Costa Del Sol.      

Prediction:

Buoyed by his Munich exploits, he'll be tempted to throw himself into another season in the Champions League. But Africa's most famous footballing son will instead choose to go out at the top, and jet off to join his old pal Nico for a feet-up jolly in the Orient.


HUGO RODALLEGA

Joined Wigan as their record transfer coup in 2009 and swiftly made his name as an hard-working forward of enterprise, and a genuine goal-threat to boot.

Scored the goal that kept the Latics in the Premier League at the end of the 2010/11 season, but 12 months on and he has chosen to let his contract run out.

Is interesting both Merseyside sides, while Harry Redknapp is said to be a big fan. At 26, the Colombian will be looking for a significant wage packet, and a big club with which to harness his ambitions of international stardom.

Prediction:

Sparked interest from Spurs in January but failed to agree a deal, then seldom played the second half of the season. With Adebayor unlikely to agree a full-time deal with the Lilywhites, Hugo could well boss the frontline at White Hart Lane come August.


JUNIOR HOILETT

The Lowdown:

A diamond in the rough at Blackburn this season just gone, Hoilett is one of the most exciting young talents in the Premier League and is currently interesting a host of top sides.

The Canadian starlet is one of the hottest properties on the free market and will be able to pretty much name his price in terms of wages, but should also consider the best environment in which to flourish.

At present, Spurs and Arsenal are battling it out, but the likes of Newcastle and Sunderland are also in the mix.

Prediction:

While Spurs and Arsenal can offer the glamour and glitz of London, Martin O’Neill’s man management skills would serve the bright winger better. With first team football a pre-requisite, Hoilett could make his home the Stadium of Light next term. 


MICHAEL OWEN

The Lowdown:

Man United’s perennial bench warmer has finally been ditched by Sir Alex, but after playing so few games in recent seasons, question marks surround the 32-year-old’s capacity to stay injury-free.

With business interests aplenty in Cheshire, Owen is almost certain to stay put in and around the North West. Stoke lead the market for his signature at 1.40, but romantics will like the look of his boyhood club, Everton, at 8.00.

Longer odds are Wigan at 15.00, where he’d almost definitely be a regular starter, and West Ham at 10.00, where he definitely wouldn’t.

Prediction:

While he rightly feels he still has plenty to offer in the big league, money talks for man they call Mo. As such, with Everton’s wage bill maxed out by the imminent arrival of Steven Pienaar, it’s a bit-part role at Stoke that beckons for England’s forgotten goalscorer supreme.


OWEN HARGREAVES

The Lowdown:

31-year-old Hargreaves has become the first casualty of Manchester City’s summer clear out, released by the Premier League Champions after just four appearances in 11 months at The Etihad. That his deal was made up of a small basic salary with a pay-as-you-play bonus clause means he won’t have earned much in relative terms this past season.

That said, his knees did hold up to training most days, and it was calf problems that kept him sidelined, as well as Mancini’s reluctance to risk the Canadian-born England international in big games.

Everton are our 6.00 favourites to pick up the Bosman transfer, while Mark Hughes’ QPR lead the pack at 7.00 alongside Chinese big-spenders Shanghai Shenhua. A return to Germany, where he made his name, can be had at 10.00 courtesy of Bayer Leverkusen.

Prediction:

Hargreaves is a stickler for the big club environment and don’t be surprised to see him sacrificing first team football in exchange for a bench warming spot – and top class medical facilities – at Spurs, who can be had at 20.00, or Liverpool at 50.00.