Remember Him!? The man last seen by most of us gleefully palming away Andrei Shevchenko's limp-wristed penalty kick in the 2005 Champions League final will be on the hunt for a new club in the Summer. Whilst the reputation he earned at Liverpool as a reliable and “cuh-ray-zee” goalie has remained fully intact since his Istanbul heroics, the fact that he's been second choice to, arguably, the best goalie in the world has seen his playing time reduced significantly over the last few years (11 games in four seasons at Madrid to be precise).
At the age of 38 he might still have a solid season or two left in him and he's previously stated he'd find a move beck to England tempting. Whilst he's probably not the solution to Edwin van der Sar's departure, his Polish heritage could see him drafted in by any number of top sides to rewire the training ground or do some odd construction jobs.
Likely Destination: A building site in Kent
Despite being about 22 years old a few weeks ago, Alesandro Nesta turned 35 last month and is in the final few weeks of his contract with Scudetto champions, AC Milan, who are yet to offer him fresh terms. Well, that's not strictly true, he was offered a one-year extension to his current deal but he was left feeling insulted at the “pitiful” offer of... wait for it... €3.6million... for 12 months work.
Naturally, with such a blatant and unashamed affront to his honour, he'll likely turn up his nose, pick up his ball and go home. Possibly instructing his agent to ring around and find a club who are both worthy of his services and have 5 or 6 million Euros down the back of the sofa. Like Blackburn Rovers for example, or probably somewhere in Qatar.
Likely Destination: Not Blackburn Rovers.
Phillipe Mexes, aside from looking like a flustered Zoe Ball, has had a strange career. Hailed by fans of the Football Manager series as the best young centre-back in Europe, he's never really been able to find consistency at either club or international level. That is, until Laurent Blanc, the new French coach, decided to build his new look defence around him. Whilst he's not having a great season with Roma, his reputation around Europe has grown dramatically in the last few months as he's patiently waited for his contract to run out.
So where's he off to? Well, he claims to favour staying in Italy and has even publicly said that he expects to make a switch to Milan. However, being that he's French, temperamental, inconsistent and a tad lightweight in the challenge he must surely be on Arsene Wenger's radar, right?
Likely Destination: Milan, probably..
Having retired from international football he spent the World Cup sitting in a room with Colin Murray, Lee Dixon and Alan Shearer and managed not to murder one of them, so a glittering career in punditry could also await him.
“We will be the greatest team in the world. We will build a squad of Zidanes and Pavons” - the words there of Real Madrid's president, Florentino Pérez, as he issued his Galactico rallying cry that was to usher in an era of unprecedented footballing dominance for Los Blancos. It didn't quite work out that way though, mostly because Pavon wasn't really that good and almost ended up playing for Bolton when Real chose not to renew his contract in 2007.
In the years since he's failed to establish himself at Zaragoza and, more recently, French side Arles-Avingnon and thus, will find himself clubless in the summer. Could he do a job in the Premier League? Well, he's short of pace, unthreatening in the air, positionally naïve and prone to the odd comedy clanger so he'd be the natural choice to replace Titus Bramble, should his knee injury not clear up in time for the new season.
Likely Destination: Sunderland.
Anthony Vanden Borre
More hit and miss than the Matrix trilogy, “the future of Belgian football” Antony Vanden Borre is famous for two things; being the best right-back on Football Manager 06 to 09, and being completely invisible to Chirs Kamara. Some of you might even remember his brief stint at Portsmouth last season. You probably don't though, which is understandable, and speaks volumes about the impact he had.
That said though, he's obviously got something about him, and given that he's still only 23, has a solid 10 years ahead of him provided he can find the right team to play in. Failures at Fiorentina and Genoa can easily be put down to his being a kamikaze-style attacking full-back trying to play in the Italian league where defenders aren't allowed past the half-way line unless they want to watch someone take a penalty. Worth a punt for teams with existing defensive solidity who want to add a new dimension to their build-up play, Bolton, Fulham, Newcastle etc.
Likely Destination: Belgian football Hall of Fame
Mark Van Bommel
What more can be said about Mark Van Bommel that wasn't painfully obvious during his appearances in the World Cup. A hideous defensive midfielder who's about as forward thinking as an Amish aunty, he tried his utter best to ruin the final for the watching world with his repeated attempts to hospitalise some of the best players on the planet. Howard Webb displaying the sort of patience not normally seen outside of Sting's bedroom.
Despite looking tailor-made to provide the bitter squeeze of lemon to Milan's gorgeous fish and chip supper of Pato, Ibrahimovic, Inzaghi and Robinho, they're yet to offer him a new contract. Spurs are apparently interested, as are Liverpool, but please God, I don't ask for much, make him stay in Italy.
Likely destination: The Premier League, unfortunately.
Alex Ferguson has always lamented the fact that he's never owned a player in the same mould as Andrea Pirlo (apparently). Expensive acquisitions of Juan Sebastian Veron and Michael Carrick never quite had all the aspects to their game that were required. Roy Keane, the integral lynchpin for so much of the side's success, paled in comparison when it came to graceful playmaking. Even Paul Scholes, Pirlo's equal with the ball at his feet, can't tackle to save his life. This summer, the man himself is available for nothing.
With the possible retirement of the carrot-topped maestro, Ferguson must be tempted to finally get his man who, even at 31, still has a few good seasons left in him. He'll face stiff competition though, his old pal Carlo Ancelotti has both eyebrows well and truly raised over this issue and there's even rumours of Harry Redknapp making him his number 1 target. Expect a real tug-of-war for his signature this summer.
Likely Destination: Sky Sports News, every thirty minutes in August.
Actually, he was offered a one-year extension to his current deal, but he was left feeling insulted at the “pitiful” offer of... wait for it... €3.6million... for 12 months work.
Vicente Rodríguez Guillén - “The dagger of Benicalap” - is quick, strong, inventive, can shoot, cross and pass, unpredictable on the ball, responsible off it, terrifies full-backs, is only 29 years old, has 300+ games for Valencia, 38 caps for Spain and this summer could be yours for absolutely nothing. Why then, are Blackburn Rovers the only club to express an interest in him?
Well, I don't know. He's certainly a talent, and whilst prone to the odd injury, has played some of his best football this season and could prove a real hit in the Premier League. He's even said himself he'd love to test himself in England, so to see him roll up at Ewood Park, which might well be hosting Championship by then, would be almost criminal.
Likely Destination: Blackburn Rovers (???)
Tactical reshuffling at Milan this season saw Seedorf played in a hideously unfamiliar position, in a hideously unfamiliar system, evidenced by his complete non-display against Spurs in the Champions League. As a result, he bore the brunt of the blame for Milan's mid-season dip in form and was roundly booed by his own fans in a game against Roma. He's still a class act though, even at 35, and would do a job for almost all of Europe's top sides.
That said though, he's already had an outstanding career and it's hard to see what else there is for him to achieve, so the 'R' word might well have crossed his mind. That's 'retirement' by the way, not 'Rihanna', although he's only human. Having retired from international football he spent the World Cup sitting in a room with Colin Murray, Lee Dixon and Alan Shearer and managed not to murder one of them, so a glittering career in punditry could also await him.
Likely Destination: The BBC
This time last week I was sat in a coffee shop in South London, sipping some sort of drink I could barely taste, let alone pronounce, when I read something that caused me to cough, splutter and wheeze in complete outrage. Miroslav Klose, German footballing royalty and one of the World Cup's greatest goal scorers, looks like moving to the MLS this summer when his contract with Munich expires.
For those of you unfamiliar with him (a mistake England made in the World Cup) he's a brilliant striker. He's deadly in front or goal and has the sort of inclusive short passing game that would make him a dream focal point for almost any Premier League side. Spurs are after him as well apparently, but then again, Spurs are after everyone. He might well end up in the States eventually, but Europe's big clubs would be stupid to let him go there any time soon.
Likely Destination: Juventus, Benfica, Spurs – Anywhere but America.
Ruud Van Nistelrooy
If you're fan of goals, then you'll love the news that Ruud Van Nistelrooy has his heart set on finishing his career in the Premier League. If you're Martin Keown on the other hand, you've probably already ducked behind the back of the sofa. It's ok Martin, you won't have to play him, just try and hide your contempt when Colin Murray asks you for an opinion on him.
Almost every mid-table side has been loosely linked with a move for the man who will be 35 at the start of next season, but so far nothing more concrete than that. He'd suit a team who've got the potential to create, but lack a killer finisher which, on this season's showing, is almost every team outside the top 6 or 7. He's still not much to look at mind, but that's not important.
Likely Destination: The Premier League, hooray!
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