As much as every football fan despises the yearly three-month hiatus between seasons, the excitement provided by the summer transfer merry-go-round is enough to keep most ticking over.
And with this close-season period looking set to prove no exception, we have picked out the most eye-catching players available for free this summer.
Andrei Arshavin – Arsenal
Following a blistering start to his Gunners career, Arshavin has fallen way down the Emirates pecking order, making only 11 appearances across all competitions this season. His tenure in English football is almost certain to end, with Zenit St. Petersburg believed to be keen to offer the 31-year-old forward a return to the club he joined Arsenal from.
Florent Malouda – Chelsea
Similarly to Arshavin, French international Malouda has experienced a quite incredible fall from grace at Chelsea, after proving a key component in their 2010 Premier League title success. He found the net in an FA Cup semi-final as recently as last term, but after failing to kick a ball in a Blues shirt all season, is ready to end his Stamford Bridge hell, potentially by signing for Brazilian outfit Santos.
Kolo Toure – Manchester City
Never a regular since his maiden season at the Etihad Stadium, the Ivorian international is unlikely to rue his failure to secure a switch to Galatasaray back in January, given the stature of the club now coveting his services. At 32, Toure will be as surprised as anyone to appear primed for a reunion with Mario Balotelli at AC Milan.
Carlton Cole – West Ham
A capable if unspectacular performer at Premier League level, Cole could be ready to call time on his seven-year Hammers career, after stalling on the club’s offer of a new deal. An admission that the former Chelsea trainee, 29, will exit Upton Park in the close season would lead to a scramble for his services, with Cardiff and Norwich most readily prepared to contest his future.
Phil Neville – Everton
As David Moyes prepares to take the Manchester United reins, it is unlikely that his first move in charge will be to offer 36-year-old Neville an Old Trafford return in a playing capacity. The versatile anchor man, who can also operate in either full-back position, has outlined a desire to continue his on-pitch career though, and he may find himself gunning for top-flight promotion with an upper-echelon Championship outfit next term.
Danny Simpson – Newcastle
One of the Magpies’ most consistent performers in their charge to a fifth-place finish last season, Simpson’s form, like many of his team-mates’, has dipped this term. But that has not deterred a lengthy line of top-flight outfits emerging as potential suitors to his services this summer, with West Ham, Norwich, Swansea and Hull all thought to be keen on the 26-year-old right-back.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.