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The value of free agents

By Kieran Fitzgerald :  03/04/2009 :  Comments (8) :
It's coming up to the end of another season so naturally people's thoughts start to turn to the summer transfer window. Something I've beening thinking about over the last day or two is the free agent and what he is worth to a club.

Free agents in general have the reputation of being has-beens, troublemakers, egotists, and mercenaries. Yet very decent players like Appiah and Gera have recent popped up on this website as being well worth a punt.

As it always seems to be fairly common knowledge among fans and the media as to who the free agents are, I would presume that the clubs would have a good knowledge also. Yet when you look at the Premier League clubs who actually sign free agents, it always seems to be the clubs towards the bottom of the table that have done so.

The reasons are fairly obvious. Maybe they've recently been promoted and don't have the cash. A dressing room full of Championship players isn't ideal to say the least. Getting in an experienced pro on the free is a double bonus. Ego and age count for less when your club doesn't have the reputation or the odd £20M to spend on players.

Many newly promoted squads contain a number of young or inexperienced players so having experience in the dressing room to provide leadership and advice is priceless in itself. Often, the fear of relegation come March or April has spurred clubs on to sign players they would only turn to in desperation. Sometimes this will work but more often than not it won't.

At the top end of the table, the big four, both by reputation and spending power, have their pick of players so they don't really need to look at free agents during the transfer windows or at any time during the season. They usually have such a strong squad anyway that, unless they get a freakish run of injuries, they don't need to pick up on a free agent anyway come say February or March.

Clubs in the second tier, like Everton, would appear to be a mixed bag. Bolton, when they were doing well under Sam Allardyce, made a huge return on signing free agents, has beens, supposed mercenaries and so on. While we are all aware of big Sam's 'qualities', he did get a lot out of the players and the club did very well.

With Everton under Moyes though, little or no value has been placed on the free agent. If you look at the player transfer section of this website, last summer was the only time when David Moyes brought in any free agents, namely Nash, Castillo and Jacobsen. Moyes's policy of taking in loan signings, the 'look before you buy' idea, is a good one and has worked reasonably well for the club.

Yes, the quality of available loan players is always going to be better than the quality of free agents, but no-one says you can't be as particular with free agents and still pick up the odd gem. You can still offer the same terms, and if a player of absolute quality comes along, just nail him to a long-term contract.

When you think about it, we're the ideal target for a lot of free agents who genuinely feel that they have something to give a club in our position. Pushing for Europe, ambitious but with very limited spending power. Yes, we'll get the usual suspects and I know this sounds arrogant but I think if they had a choice the Appiahs and Geras of this world would prefer to get picked up by Everton than by Hull or Bolton.

I know that quality free agents are both few and far between and probably in very high demand, but they can work for clubs and work very well. With all the talk about what cash Everton does or doesn't have this summer, I for one wil be interested to see what free agents we get linked with and who, if any, we pick up.

Reader Comments

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Fran Mitchell
1   Posted 03/04/2009 at 15:11:24

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A problem with free agents, and a reason Everton haven?t bought that many under Moyes, is that they generally demand high wages.

The likes of Appiah as you mentioned and others this summer e.g. Fred, Michael Owen, Crespo, Kalou, Maniche, de Guzman etc (this season see a large amount of big names) is that they command high wages.

Even in previous seasons when the free agents have less big names, they still generally demand wages that first team players earn i.e. Gera.

This is something when discussing Everton's transfer budget that is very big, because we hold a very tight wage structure, and this is the reason for the small squad (rather have 15 quality players i.e. on high wages than 30 average players on lower wages).

However, from the quality on offer this summer, I would hate to see us not go for someone like de Guzman, who is an excellent holding midfielder with experience. If we win the cup and Arsenal don?t sign him, then Kalou would also offer a very ambitious and talented option, 23, very quick and can play out wide and up front.

Never gonna happen though...
Eric Myles
2   Posted 03/04/2009 at 18:37:58

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Let?d face it, lads, we?ve been living off borrowed money in the past and now that the world economy, based on borrowing, is well and truly fooked, what chance is there of use getting a loan from the bank to buy even one player?
Nathan Snell
3   Posted 03/04/2009 at 19:06:43

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Good news - "When the dust settles after the biggest meeting of heads of government in Britain since the end of the second world war, it is hoped that a united effort to restore confidence to the world economy and global markets will be underway". This should help us secure some investment at least!
Derek Thomas
4   Posted 03/04/2009 at 23:14:05

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A lot of them

a) Seem to think they are better than they are;

b) Don?t seem to wonder just why it is they have been let go;

c) Think coz there is no fee paid out it can be bunged on their wages as a bonus; and

d) have no idea what represents class as in a proper Club (US) and go where the money is.

I think Moyes is too canny a Scot to throw cash too far, hence his try-before-you-buy policy.
Fran Mitchell
5   Posted 04/04/2009 at 17:05:47

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Do you honestly believe that?
In total, the meetings of the G20 lasted a total of 3 hours 30 minutes, you think that's gonna save an economy thats as fucked as this one? No chance.

This recession is gonna last 10 years at the very minimum. Don't know the complete figures, however there is trillions of dollars that has been spent but doesn't exist, all this a result of constant loans and the creation of ficticious capital. Gordon ?world saviour my arse? Brown may say that to get out of this we must spend more, banks must loan more etc; however, the economy ain't fucked cos a lack of confidence, it's fucked cos a lack of money.

Maybe banks will be forced to create more loans, but it's only gonna fuck us up more in a couple of years.

The fact is, the recession ain't even hit us properly, cuts in public services, cuts in universities etc are only starting ? it ain't hit football yet, but it's gonna happen. Everton are gonna be well and truely screwed when it does if we continue to live off loans, but so will the rest of the league.

Abramovich has seen his wealth go from £10+ Billion, it's currently about £1.7-2 Billion, it's set to reduce more in coming years, I reckon he?ll want that £400-500 million loan to Chelsea back sooner rather than later.

Liverpool have spent £80-100 million so far on a stadium without a brick being laid. They owe god knows how much to RBS, without any real means of paying it back.
Stewart Littler
6   Posted 04/04/2009 at 17:42:48

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Does anybody know where you can find a database of out of contract players? I know of a few this summer, and I would like to see us go for Michael Owen - Newcastle are on their way down, and he ain’t gonna stay there - no-one above us will go for him/he wouldn’t get in their team - we represent his last chance to achieve something - and even if we only get 15-20 games from him, I think it’d be worth it. Stumbling block would be wages, so it’d be up to him whether he wants to take a cut to have one last good shot at the England squad and some success
Derek Thomas
7   Posted 05/04/2009 at 04:57:07

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The 1929 crash was the start of the last great recession, but it took a number of years to fully gather speed.

All the 20/20 hindsight experts said later that the measures taken, ie cut backs, were ineffective and we were still, very slowly getting out of it when the WW2 started.

This kick-started many economies. The war primed the US pump, as well as finishing the job WW1 did in eliminating their main industrial and political rival (US) as a major player.

All the brains that be have thus concluded that doing the opposite of what failed in the 30s is the magic bullet to succeed in similar circumstances.

Two wrongs don?t make a right, but it seems that now, in the absence of any other ideas, one wrong and a could be should do... may do of spend spend spend is the answer.

So is setting fire to your hair to read by the light thus generated; yes it works in the short term but at what price in the long term.

Where do these trillions come from and where do they go??

£5 trillion, that works out about $800 for every man woman and child on the planet.
Tom Harries
8   Posted 06/04/2009 at 12:51:54

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?Where do these trillions come from and where do they go???

The money that has been used to prop up the banks has come out of the world?s taxes.

The money the banks lost was never real, it was the estimated worth of their assets (which turned out to be worthless eg loans made to people who would never be able to pay them back)

RE: Michael Owen: ?Stumbling block would be wages? ? don?t mention stumbling blocks where Owen is concerned, that's just tempting fate!

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