Everton and Saints should forget Austin and look at these freebies

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With 17 Premier League goals to his name this season, Charlie Austin was always going to be sought after in the summer, especially if QPR go down, but could the competition mean there are better options elsewhere?

According to reports, at least four clubs, Everton, Newcastle, Southampton and Crystal Palace are in the hunt to sign the former Swindon man, with a fee of around £7m suggested.

Such a tussle to sign the striker could lead into a bidding war, with the price likely to reach dizzying heights

But with a number of top quality strikers coming to the end of their contracts, there could be better options available on a free.

We’ve picked three forwards who would save pursuers some cash, but could still deliver the goods in the Premier League.

Andre-Pierre Gignac

At 29-years-old there may not be as much longevity in him left, but with 18 goals in Ligue 1 this season, Gignac clearly still has it.

His haul this season has helped Marseille up to fourth in the table, and on the cusp of breaking into the Champions League qualification places.

He wouldn’t be cheap in the salary department, but with the southern France club keen to get some of their high earners off their wage bill, a move away from the Stade Velodrome looks on the cards in the summer.

Luiz Adriano

Quizzed on who is the current top scorer in this season’s Champions League, many would assume it would be Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, but they are both gazumped by Shakthar’s hitman.

With nine strikes in this year’s competition, the Brazilian has proven that he can cut it with Europe’s elite, so the risk of him flopping in the Premier League is reduced somewhat.

He’s been a vital part of the Ukrainian side’s front-line over the last seven seasons, delivering at goal ratio of better than a goal every other game.

Danny Ings

Another striker thrust in the relegation battle, Ings’ goals for Burnley could be vital in their quest for survival.

Having already proved that he can cut it in the Premier League, he could be an attractive option.

He may not have been as potent as Austin throughout the campaign, with nine goals to his name, but available for an arbitrary amount due to his age, he may well prove better value for money.

And at just 22-years-old, the former Bournemouth striker is three years his junior, so does have age on his side.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Ben Stones

Ladbrokes News’ equine expert, Ben likes nothing more than studying the form to pick out a winner or two for our readers. A Journalism and Media Studies graduate from the University of Winchester, Ben has previously written for a number of football and racing blogs and websites, as well as contributing to the sports pages of his home-town newspaper.