10 footballers that Premier League clubs have kept for too long

Aneesh Gupta

There is no perfect time for a club and player to part ways. A majority of the transfers are basically a result of either of the parties wanting out.Moving on a smart Bosman transfer, paying up the remaining contract fee to get that lucrative move up and running, or plainly throwing tantrums so as to move away from a club – these are some of the means for a player to move out of a club.Clubs too have ways to slyly let players know that they are no longer wanted by the team and should look elsewhere, like not selecting them for matches, or forcing them to train/play for reserves. In a nutshell, both clubs and players have ways to move on rather than mop around in an unhappy marriage.But there are times when these sly tactics don’t work, and neither party is willing to end the contractual partnership. Here, we take a look at 10 players who have been kept by their respective club too long, even while knowing that it is not working out.

#10 Fernando Torres - Chelsea

It would not be wrong to mention one of the biggest British transfers of all time. You wonder what Fernando Torres is still doing on that Chelsea roster (albeit on loan at Milan) after being so ordinary for so long.

Back in 2011, at the age of 26, which is usually the prime age for any striker, Torres sought his one last big money move and signed for Chelsea. While he was able to taste collective glory with European triumphs and league victories, he was unable to be the guiding light that he used to be previously at Liverpool. And the £50 million price tag was like an albatross around his neck.

His erratic form has always been a cause of concern for Chelsea fans in the four years he has been at the club. While he has got a temporary reprieve from his London troubles at Milan this season, surely he would be happier to leave the Blues behind once and for all.

#9 Derdyck Boyata - Manchester City

The Belgian defender is no more “one to look out for in the future”. At the ripe age of 24, he is fast losing out on the opportunity to prove his mettle. At Manchester City since 2009, and with just a handful of appearances to his name, the player is surely not progressing much.

But contrary to all the facts, the Belgian was again lured by the cash rich club to sign on the dotted line with a bumper deal on the table this year, stretching his English experience to a prospective 2016.

While most would agree that both the club and the defender can do without this shallow arrangement, the ulterior motives are what determine his future at the club. Ever since the Homegrown rule kicked into action, EPL clubs have to maintain a squad that has an appropriate number of homegrown players. And since Boyata has been on the City payroll from a very early age, he is deemed a homegrown player, thus helping the club maintain the required ratio.

Most players, particularly as young as 24 years old, would eschew idle time on the bench and reserves of even the greatest of clubs. Which is why this arrangement between the club and Boyata surely raises concern about how the player looks at his career.

#8 Ryan Bertrand - Chelsea

An out-and-out Chelsea boy who has been at the club for nearly a decade, Ryan Bertrand is always the first to be shipped out for a loan spell every year. While he has been dependable whenever he has been called upon, case in point being the Champions League final for his first start for the Blues, Bertrand like all the youngsters at the club faces the problem of plenty that plagues the club.

At 25 and on his nth loan spell at Southampton, the merry-go-round surely has to stop in order for him to become a regular Premier League player.

With Filipe Luis and Cesar Azpilicueta more than just shoring up the left side of the Chelsea defence, it won’t be hard for the club’s top brass to finally make a decision on this young English left back. With a left back spot up for grabs in the national squad and an ageing Leighton Baines needing a deputy as well, it won’t be all gloom for Bertrand to leave his alma mater and cut this umbilical cord once and for all.

#7 Hatem Ben Arfa - Newcastle United

The Frenchman with a magic wand of a left foot is a classic case of the ‘application versus talent’ debate. While the whole world knows that he has immense talent, what stops them from raving about this French international is his attitude and how he applies himself on the pitch.

It was thought to be a good business deal by Newcastle United when they snapped the pacy left winger from French Ligue 1. But after a few telling performances, he was seen not fit enough to be a starter by the Magpies boss Alan Pardew, who looked to more hard-working players to fit the right side of the midfield.

While reports surfaced that the player and manager had been on a collision course for a good three years, his recent fitness issues, where he turned up after a pre-season a tad too overweight for the club’s liking, have only added fuel to the discord. With ripostes being fired by the manager and the player all through the summer, Ben Arfa was finally off-loaded to Hull City; to add insult to injury, he stripped of his number 10 jersey, which was given to Siem De Jong.

A story that has turned out to be quite depressing in the end, it would be better if both parties mad the separation official and spared fans the misery.

#6 Benoit Assou-Ekotto - Tottenham Hotspur

The Cameroonian left back has long overstayed his welcome at White Hart Lane and his constant issues have been testimony to why it would be best for both him and Tottenham to part ways. While he has great camaraderie with the fans, especially on social media sites, he has not been able to extend that friendship towards his managers – be it Andre Villas-Boas or Tim Sherwood.

Even the current manager Mauricio Pochettino does not seem like a pretty big fan of the left back, having already shown his intention by signing Ben Davies. The player though has been creating an uproar, not by his performances but with controversies off the pitch. He said Villas Boas was “like a son of Mourinho” and showed his support for Nicolas Anelka in the Quenelle controversy, which earned him a three-match ban.

At 30, the left back has surely seen out the prime of his career, and he would be better off finding a club meeting his stature than just hogging the limelight on Twitter while sitting idle on the Tottenham bench.

#5 Tom Cleverley - Manchester United

The poster boy for all United critics and cynics, Tom Cleverley has had a few forgettable years in the first team of the Red Devils which have coincided with club’s fall from grace. But the start to his career was not so bad. Having earned rave reviews with his loan spells at Watford and Wigan, Cleverley looked forward to having a brilliant United career, but it all turned awry for the young English midfielder within a couple of years.

Some below-par performances coupled with losses that the club of the stature of United should not have suffered saw the beginning of the end of Cleverley at United. His critics attacked him from all corners including social sites, forcing the player to state that the atmosphere at old Trafford was “negative”.

The midfielder earned a loan move to Aston Villa this season, and while the United hierarchy is still open to a Cleverley comeback, the player himself said he is looking towards building his career away from Manchester in order build back some of his lost repute. Most pundits agree that that might be the right move.

#4 Micah Richards - Manchester City

Micah Richards has long had this next-leader-to-be kind of image at City. He came into the first team quite early in his career and was seen as a long term fixture in the back four. But the Abu Dhabi takeover has not helped his plans as he has had to wage a constant battle to secure a position, with the likes of Maicon, Pablo Zabaleta to compete with. Along with that, he has had issues managing his injuries that have been pretty detrimental to his quest for first team football.

At the club since 2001 as a youth player and in the first team for nine long years, Richards could be said to be one of those players who have regressed in their development. Despite being part of two league successes, he has not had much say in them. Him still being in the squad is mainly attributed to him being a home-grown player as per the English league’s rule.

That rule has seen plenty of players like Scott Sinclair and Richard Wright remain at the club and be satisfied by little or no game time (mostly in cup games against weaker teams).

#3 Gael Kakuta - Chelsea

Gael Kakuta was the next best thing when he was signed up by Chelsea, even earning plaudits from first team players. But it comes as a surprise that he has played only six Premier League games for the club in seven years.

Part of the reason why he has not really been able to flourish is the fact that Chelsea have sought out a plethora of youngsters and have a problem of plenty at their hands when it comes to choosing which youngster to pick and which to loan out for further development.

While Kakuta has been constantly deemed worthy of the latter, he has seen himself tossed over to various clubs around Europe to further his “development”. The club surely has the means and resources to maintain a bevy of young starlets and not be concerned over dwindling finances. But for a player like Kakuta, now 23, it seems that he is being deprived of the experience he was initially signed up for, and has slowly been driven to the periphery of the club.

While there are no perfect answers to this problem, which in a sense is endemic to a modern day big club, it would be apt for a club to forego a player that it does not see fit their requirements rather than just loaning him out for half a decade.

#2 Abou Diaby - Arsenal

Abou Diaby is a case that is looked in two ways. One, in a playful manner where fans mock his brittleness and inability to be match fit, calling him a free-loader. Or conversely, as a grim story of a player who has all the attributes to be a success but has had an unfortunate career-threatening injury that has propelled him into a vortex of attempting to get back in shape and then facing a recurrence of the same injuries.

No doubt his will to be unfazed by so many injuries shows that he deserves more than he has got. But while it has been tough on the player personally to endure so many setbacks throughout his career, the fact that he has overstayed his welcome and may soon add to the misery by signing a new deal with the club seems pretty hard to digest for the supporters.

As the manager, Arsene Wenger himself has said that the club would give Diaby a new deal if he proves his fitness. This seems like another bad decision on the manager’s part, who has been seen to be going with sentimentality rather than reasoning on such issues.

#1 Anderson - Manchester United

Anderson Manchester United

The Brazilian’s signing looked like a great coup by Manchester United when he was initially snapped up for what looked like a meagre £20 million from FC Porto. But since then, it has been a sad story of a lost prodigy who once looked like the complete midfielder that United needed.

Signed as a 19-year-old from Portugal by Sir Alex Ferguson, it looked like United had unearthed another player of the Cristiano Ronaldo ilk. And while there were sparks initially shown by the midsize tenacious midfielder, things soon started crumbling down for him.

Erratic performances, lack of opportunity and the inability to seize his few chances saw him go down the pecking order. While United were not perturbed at first with the Brazilian’s mediocrity as they continued their domination, Sir Alex’s departure and the club’s turn of fortunes saw United fans come to the rude awakening that this was supposed to be a star waiting to seize his moment, but he was instead still grappling with the ways of English football after so much time with the club.

After a loan spell last season and lack of offers this summer, the Brazilian has to be unwillingly included in Louis van Gaal’s squad. For all that it could have been, it would be a great relief for United fans as and when Anderson’s contract runs out, for he does not seem too concerned about how and when he plays.

Edited by Staff Editor


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