Hull’s Aluko, the explosive Vydra and Leicester title-winner De Laet – some free summer signings ITFC could make
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Town have built their squad on loans and free transfers in the past few seasons – so which freebies could the club pick up in this transfer window?
Despite the new season being just under two months away, clubs are already busy planning for the new campaign and several players are already looking for new clubs.
Ipswich Town have recently snapped up Adam Webster, making the former Portsmouth defender their first summer signing.
And the club has said he has become Mick McCarthy’s most expensive purchase during his time at Portman Road.
But over the last few seasons the manager has relied heavily on free transfers and loans – and could well do so again this close season.
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David McGoldrick, Christophe Berra and Luke Chambers are just some of the names to have been brought to Ipswich fee-free.
With that in mind CHRIS BRAMMER looks at some free agents and potential loanees from the Premier League and Championship that could fit the bill at Ipswich Town.
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SONE ALUKO (Free agent). Age: 27. Position: Striker. Former clubs: Aberdeen (loan), Birmingham, Blackpool (loan), Rangers. Released by: Hull. Professional appearances: 259. Goals: 39
The Nigeria international, who has scored two goals for his country, was always likely to make his exit from the KC Stadium this summer, if the Tigers were promoted.
Aluko, whose sister Eniola plays for the England women’s team, made 25 league appearances for Hull in their promotion-winning campaign, scoring three goals.
The 5ft 8ins striker has experience in the Premier League with the Tigers, and would offer Mick McCarthy genuine pace down the middle, or even on one of the flanks.
Scored most of his career goals in the SPL which may put potential suitors off, but possesses genuine flair and trickery which can cause opposition defences a headache.
Has been linked with Derby County and will no doubt interest several other top-end Championship clubs this summer.
RITCHIE DE LAET. Age: 27. Position: Right back/centre back. Former clubs: Antwerp, Manchester United, Stoke. Middlesbrough, Norwich, Portsmouth, Preston, Sheffield United, Wrexham (all loan). Club: Leicester. Professional appearances: 192. Goals: 6
Belgian international hit the headlines last month when he picked up a Championship runners-up medal and Premier League champions medal on the same day, with Middlesbrough and Leicester respectively.
The 27-year-old is under contract at Leicester until 2018, but having started the season as first-choice right back at the King Power Stadium, lost his place to Danny Simpson, who went on to make the position his own.
Finished the season at Middlesbrough, making seven loan appearances at the Riverside and the Teesiders’ interest in re-signing the defender has yet to be made public.
De Laet is unlikely to feature much for the Foxes next season, especially as Claudio Ranieri’s side will be looking to upgrade in all positions with a Champions League campaign to look forward to.
A season-long loan would be ideal for Town and the athletic De Laet would provide strong competition for Luke Chambers.
LLOYD DYER (Free agent). Age: 33. Position: Winger. Former clubs: Birmingham, Coventry, Kidderminster, QPR (all loan), Leicester, Millwall, MK Dons, Watford, West Brom. Released by: Burnley. Professional appearances: 459. Goals: 62
Age may go against Lloyd Dyer, with Mick McCarthy already possessing several first-team players 30 or over.
But what Dyer lacks in youth, he makes up with oodles of Championship experience.
A reported Ipswich loan target last season, Dyer knows the Football League inside out, winning three promotions in his career – two of those with Leicester.
Failed to make an impact at Burnley last season, with the Clarets boasting a settled side throughout, but still has the skill and speed to put Championship full-backs on their backsides.
Would surely be a low-risk signing, but would probably be an impact player at best, with McCarthy tending to go safety first down the flanks, rather than relying on all out flair. Could be an option if Liam Feeney turns down a permanent deal at Portman Road.
JOEL EKSTRAND (Free agent). Age: 27. Position: Centre-back. Former clubs: Helsingborgs, Udinese. Released by: Watford. Professional appearances: 174. Goals: 3
Recently released by Watford, the signing of 6ft 2 ins tough-tackling Ekstrand would certainly be a talking point at Portman Road.
The Swedish defender is best remembered for his crude challenge on then-Town player Jonny Williams, which pretty much ended the Welsh midfielder’s second loan spell at Portman Road.
Ironically, four months later, Ekstrand suffered a serious cruciate knee ligament injury against Town during a 1-0 win for the Blues.
Failed to make an appearance for the Hornets last season but was offered a new deal by former Watford boss Quique Sanchez Flores.
Has been courted by Spanish side, Malaga, and Italian outfit, Sampdoria, and signing would be a long shot, especially after Mick McCarthy’s capture of Adam Webster from Pompey.
ALEJANDRO FAURLIN (Free agent). Age: 29. Position: Centre midfield. Former clubs: Atletico de Rafaela, Instituto, Maritimo B, River Plate, Rosario Central. Palermo (loan). Released by: QPR. Professional appearances: 252. Goals: 18
Classy midfielder made over 150 appearances for QPR and became a firm fans’ favourite during his seven-year spell at Loftus Road.
A typical tough-tackling Argentinean, the 6ft 1ins midfielder is also excellent on the ball, composed, with a good range of passing.
Faurlin played 30 games for the R’s last season in the Championship, following just 20 appearances over the previous three seasons.
That’s where the problem lies. Faurlin has injured his Anterior Cruciate Ligament three times in the last three years and that may put potential suitors off.
Fully-fit, Faurlin would certainly improve the Town engine room.
LIAM FEENEY (Free agent). Age: 29. Position: Left or right winger. Former clubs: Blackburn, Bournemouth, Millwall, Southend. Released by: Bolton. Professional appearances: 377. Goals: 42
Hard-working winger finished last season at Ipswich Town and impressed Mick McCarthy enough to be offered a deal at Portman Road.
Impressed against Town last season, during Town’s 2-2 draw at Bolton, and as a result of Bolton’s plight, was allowed to seek pastures new, with no new deal on the table at the Macron Stadium, given their inevitable fall into League One.
Can play on either flank and can beat a man with his turn of pace, but was a little inconsistent with his end-product during his time in Suffolk.
Was a regular performer for Millwall, during the Lions’ last stint in the Championship, before leaving the Den for Lancashire on a free transfer, going on to score eight times in 88 games for the Trotters.
Provides genuine width and had arguably his best game for Town in the 1-0 win at Derby on the final day of the season just gone.
ISAAC HAYDEN. Age: 21. Position: Centre-back, defensive midfielder. Former club: Hull (loan). Professional appearances: 26. Goals: 1
Youngster went out on-loan to Hull City last season and impressed for the Tigers in central midfield, playing on 25 occasions.
Has represented England at under-16 through to under-20 and can also play at the heart of the defence and right-back.
“I’ve already been on to Arsenal because I’d love to make it permanent if I could,” Hull boss Steve Bruce said when asked about Hayden in January.
I’d make it permanent tomorrow if that was possible. I desperately want to hang on to him.”
With Bruce’s future unsure at Hull, Hayden’s next move may well depend on the former Birmingham boss.
MATT TAYLOR (Free agent). Age: 34. Position: Left/central midfield. Former clubs: Luton, Portsmouth, Bolton, West Ham. Released by: Burnley. Professional appearances: 617. Goals: 76
Vastly-experienced midfielder probably does not fit the bill at Town, given the Blues already have two thirty-somethings in the engine room, in Cole Skuse and Matt Taylor.
Fellow midfielder Jay Tabb, 32, meanwhile, has been released, but Taylor, two years his senior would be an upgrade on the former Coventry midfielder and is likely to end up in the Championship one way or another next season.
Taylor possesses a wand of a left foot, is extremely dangerous from free-kicks and boasts the kind of work ethic that McCarthy craves.
The veteran is versatile and can also fill in at left-back when the need arises.
Would be a good squad player – Town have a lack of strength in depth – but with McCarthy looking to the future, Taylor is probably a few years too late.
BEN TURNER. Age: 28. Position: Centre-back. Former clubs: Coventry. Oldham and Peterborough (both loans). Released by: Cardiff. Professional appearances: 220. Goals: 9
Giant centre-back played a major role in Cardiff’s promotion to the Premier League in 2013, before going on to make 31 appearances in the Bluebirds’ only season in the top-flight.
Suffered a long-term injury on Cardiff’s return to the Championship, and spent time on-loan at former club Coventry last season, before injury curtailed that spell too.
Will be eager to make up for lost time and will be confident he can still do a job in the second-tier.
Offers height, power and experience and could prove to be an astute acquisition, alongside Christophe Berra, Tommy Smith and new signing, Adam Webster.
Mick McCarthy has form for revitalising players’ careers, having done similar with the likes of Berra, David McGoldrick and Daryl Murphy.
MATEJ VYDRA. Age: 24. Position: Striker. Former clubs: Banik Ostrava, Udinese, Vysocina Jihlava. Brugge, Reading, West Brom (loan). Club: Watford. Professional appearances: 193. Goals: 60
Czech Republic international striker signed a five-year deal at Watford last summer, before being shipped out to Championship side Reading, on-loan.
Vydra made his name in England in the 2012-13 season, scoring 20 goals in 41 games in the Championship, whilst on-loan from Udinese.
That earned him a move to the Premier League the following season with West Brom, where he found the going slightly tougher.
Vydra spent last season with Reading, signing a £2.5m loan deal but the forward failed to fire at the Madjeski, scoring just two league goals.
Watford obviously believe he has potential, but he may find it difficult to get in the Hornets’ first team again next season, with Troy Deeney and Odion Ighalo standing in his way.
Vydra is established at international level, having score five goals in 16 games, but is not in his country’s Euro 2016 squad.
Another loan move could help revitalise his career.
What do you think of these suggestions. Are there any other freebies Town should be looking at? Let us know in the comments below.