Hundreds of players looking to move on
For some, the ball is in their court. The offers will flood in. There is no need to panic – so much so, they can get a holiday in before making a decision.
But for the majority, their way of life is at stake – the career they have worked at since first kicking a slightly flat ball in the street; their future.
The PFA's current transfer list contains 705 names at last count, and an infinite range of possibilities and problems. There are the shoe-ins. David Nugent and Jay Bothroyd have called the shots over their futures at Portsmouth and Cardiff. Better clubs await – the new deals and new destinations may have been in the bag for some time.
Leeds United midfielder Bradley Johnson fits the bill – next month he should move from 'out of contract' to Paul Lambert signing number five.
However, after those choice few, nothing is certain. For some, only the hunger to keep playing will keep them interested – financial security came a long time ago after glittering careers. Former England defender Sol Campbell is a big name without a club after being released by Newcastle. At 36, it's up to Sol where he finds himself next – if he wants to play, he can make it happen, physically and financially.
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We may be a few years from the heyday of Robert Pires and Patrick Vieira at Arsenal, yet both will get a ticket to another season. It may come from abroad – something similar to released Norwich City defender Jens Berthel Askou, who is already back in his native Denmark. However, a new club is yet to arrive for the centre-back.
Now imagine you are a footballer yet to reach your prime – yet to really prove yourself. One change in manager and you are out of favour. Or your injury record – however unfortunate – raises just one too many question marks alongside your PFA entry. You have never been paid bucketloads – enough to do well, but never enough to survive without.
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This is the harsh summer reality in modern English football. A collection of 92 professional clubs produces a lot of professional players – so imagine the dole queue.
A few notable Canaries connections feature on the list. Striker Chris Brown is heading out of Preston, while David Carney and Alan Gow – not the most successful of City loan signings ever seen at Carrow Road – find themselves passing through the exit door at Blackpool and Notts County respectively. Miguel Llera, once a Bryan Gunn transfer target, can now consider his options after League One Charlton let him leave.
Some of the 700 will be given a chance. Some will spend the rest of the year travelling for trials. We may be in the days of player power – but it's worth remembering that power is spread thinly these days.
• PICK OF THE FREES
Fancy any of these?
John Pantsil (last club Fulham)
Jonathan Spector (West Ham)
Boudewijn Zenden (Sunderland)
Lee Bowyer (Birmingham)
Jay Bothroyd (Cardiff)
Nigel Reo-Coker (Aston Villa)
Patrick Vieira (Man City)
Jason Koumas (Wigan)
Kevin Phillips (Birmingham)
David Nugent (Portsmouth)
James McFadden (Birmingham)
John Carew (Aston Villa)
Jonathan Woodgate (Tottenham)
Sol Campbell (Newcastle)
Stephen Caldwell (Wigan)
Danny Gabbidon (West Ham)
Marcus Hahnemann (Wolves)
Paul Rachubka (Blackpool).