On the 10th of June, Premier League clubs published their release lists. Who will be snapped up for free first?
Perhaps one of the most surprising releases happened Manchester. Nick Powell made under ten senior appearances for United, including Champions League appearances this season.
This came after a £6 million move from Crewe Alexandra in 2012.
The midfielder couldn’t get into the team, going on loan to Wigan Athletic, Leicester and Crewe during his time with the Red Devils.
Perhaps one of the reasons he didn’t fulfil his potential at United was due to injuries, though timing was probably a bigger factor.
Powell was top scorer in his 2013/14 Wigan loan spell with 12 goals including a Rooney-esque overhead kick against Bolton.
This form didnt warrant the Englishman even a bit part involvement with Manchester United the following season under Van Gaal.
An influx of midfielders meant Powell was frozen out; Angel Di Maria, Ander Herrera and Daley Blind in the summer of 2014, and clearly he wasn’t in Van Gaal’s plans.
Where next for Powell? Steve Bruce of recently promoted Hull City is apparently a big admirer but currently Blackburn Rovers looks a more likely destination for the midfielder.
Athletic defender Adrian Mariappa is another who has been target of much speculation. The Jamaica international has received offers from Burnley and Middlesbrough but most recently Rangers.
Mariappa would be a decent punt for any mid-table Premier League side because of his experience and the fact he can play anywhere across the backline.
However, the defender has stressed his desire to play regular football so may have to drop down a league to get that.
Stephen Fletcher was one of the more surprising Premier League releases, the powerful striker has scored many a top tier goal for the likes of Burnley, Wolves and Sunderland.
At 29, the striker has a good turn of pace and probably has a few good years left in him. On the other hand, his recent loan spell with Marseille may put some clubs off his signature.
Fletcher failed to adapt to Ligue 1 football, scoring just twice, with one strike coming against French amateur side Trelissac.
Celtic have most recently been linked with the Scottish international, a good move perhaps for the striker as he has shown previously he can cut it at Scottish Premier League level, grabbing nearly a goal every three games during his five-year spell with Hibernian.
Former Real Madrid marksman Emmanuel Adebayor was one of the higher profile releases on June 10th after failing to convince Alan Pardew to renew his contract at Crystal Palace.
Adebayor may have only scored one league goal last season, but the striker’s new found maturity and willingness to help the Palace cause, even from off the bench, showed that his head is screwed on.
The 32-year-old is always going to be a controversial figure. If he can get a manager who can really motivate him, the Togo forward could rediscover some of the scoring form which earned him a £25 million move to Manchester City.
Adebayor has a big decision to make. Kardemir, who were promoted from the Turkish Second Division, have shown interest and this presents an option other than England’s top flight.
Does he go there and possibly fade into obscurity? Or will he have one last crack at the Premier League, albeit with a lower to mid table club?
Contrastively to Adebayor, Jamar Lozas release from Norwich has gone fairly under the radar from the media so far.
The striker, who was part of Jamaica’s 2014 Caribbean Cup winning team, has drifted around the lower English divisions.
His debut goal for Southend United was particularly impressive. Dribbling and holding off multiple Oxford United players, Loza managed to keep his balance for a side foot finish.
Loza clearly has an eye for goal, as demonstrated in a five goal haul in a 7-2 U21 win against Southampton.
Like any young striker he has his weaknesses and sometimes he can be guilty of shooting when an easier pass is on.
Still, at 22, he has plenty of time to grow. Don’t be surprised if the Championship or even League One is Loza’s destination next season.
As they say, one step back to take two steps forward.
Other notable releases include Charles NZogbia from Aston Villa, Gaston Ramirez from Southampton and Kolo Toure from Liverpool.
Toure could still do a job in a limited defender role for one of the newly promoted sides, depending on whether or not they can meet his high wage demands.
At 35, lots of clubs will be reluctant to take the gamble.
Manchester United released goalkeeper Victor Valdes after making just two appearances, could move to rivals Manchester City.
Another player who could make a switch to the City of Manchester Stadium is Mikel Arteta, in a coaching role.
Finally, Tomas Rosicky has shown his class to an international audience at the ongoing European Championships.
However, a recent injury coupled with a history on the treatment table will put most clubs off the Czech.
Ultimately, these players have become free agents for a reason, whether it be for age, financial gain or lack of playing time.
However, for some, being released might be a reality check and the catalyst they need to push on in their careers.