Carroll, Besic, Bolasie – 11 players still available as Stoke City track free agents


Michael O’Neill says that Stoke City are keeping track of one or two free agents as he looks to put the finishing touches to his squad for the new season.

O’Neill has already brought in three signings and will look to use the loan and permanent markets to add the extra quality needed to help Stoke try to push towards the top end of the Championship.

But there are also players still available whose contracts in the Premier League came to an end this summer.

We have picked out 10 with some of the biggest reputations who can afford to be a bit more patient than others in their search for a new home.

Who would you like to see in a Stoke shirt? Have your say in the comments section.

YANNICK BOLASIE

Mike Pejic’s old protégé in the youth system at Plymouth has had four loan spells in the past three seasons before he was released by Everton.

He was Aston Villa for the first half of their promotion campaign in 2018/19 before spells at Anderlecht and Sporting Lisbon, then was with Neil Warnock at Middlesbrough in the second half of last term.

Now aged 32, the left winger has been linked with Boro and Reading and clubs in Turkey but is currently training on his own.

MO BESIC

The 28-year-old defensive midfielder has also been linked with Reading after his released from Everton, where he made 56 appearances during seven years on the books.

Everton reporter Adam Jones told GetReading: “Instantly the fact that he’s now a free agent makes the move more appealing, as you take away the risk of an initial price or even a loan fee from his club.

“Besic is a player with a lot of talent, but who hasn’t had the opportunity to show that for quite some time now. Previous history with past players in this position shows that this could go either way, but the former Everton man strikes me as a player who will be absolutely determined to prove himself again.

“If Reading can get the player that the Blues saw back in his first season at Goodison Park it will certainly be worth it. He’s only 28 still as well, so there’s a lot of time for him to show his quality once more.”

ROBBIE BRADY

The 29-year-old left-sided Republic of Ireland international was hit by “horrific luck with injuries” during his five seasons at Burnley.

He has been working on his fitness with Stephen Kenny’s fitness coach Damien Doyle at the AUL complex in Dublin and told the Irish Examiner: “Following the Euros, the market has been slow, and clubs haven’t finalised their squads.

“I’ve a few offers, but I’ll take my time in coming to the right decision. Things can change very quickly; like it did for Andros Townsend, who joined Everton last week.”

He added: “I’ve proved what I can do at Premier League level, and believe I can more than hold my own there,” he asserts.

“When you finish a season with an injury, clubs wonder if you’re fit. But once the resting of my Achilles was completed, then underwent my rehab by swimming and cycling, I was back on the pitch at the start of July preparing for the season as I would do at a club.”



Versatile left footer Robbie Brady, aged 29, had been with Burnley since joining from Norwich in 2017.



Newcastle United's Andy Carroll
Andy Carroll is a free agent after spending two years back at Newcastle United.

ANDY CARROLL

The 32-year-old striker has caused a minor flutter as it’s been spotted he is following Stoke on Twitter.

He could be a closet Potter – the only other club he follows who he hasn’t played for are Las Vegas Lights in the USL – or maybe he fancies swinging that pony tail to the bet365.

Scored a late, late equaliser for West Ham in spring 2018 which all-but confirmed Stoke’s relegation but has struggled for game time and goals since then.

He had been in talks about a new contract at St James’s Park but has left in search of regular football. He was fit through last season but only got the nod to start four league games from Steve Bruce, coming off the bench 14 times.

Bruce told ChronicleLive: “I had a conversation with Andy. I think he wants to go and play. I wish the lad all the best.

“I hope it goes for the rest of his career. He’s certainly been a big help to me in the last couple of years, that’s for sure.”

Has been linked to Bristol City too but Robins reporter Gregor MacGregor said: “We asked our sources about him earlier in the summer and it was a negative, though things may have changed since then – although we think that’s unlikely.

“Big wages, questionable appearance record, would he be motivated to come down to the other end of the country at the end of his career? He’s 33 this season so it wouldn’t be a long-term move. We don’t see this one happening.”

AHMED ELMOHAMADY

Has been linked with Saudi Arabia club Al Ahli – Badou Ndiaye’s stomping ground earlier this year – after leaving Aston Villa.

Sam Clucas’s old Hull teammate had been at Villa for four years, a regular in the Championship but largely back-up to Matty Cash last term in the Premier League.

Egypt right-back, now 33, has always had a knack for chipping in with assists.

KAMIL GROSICKI

Former Hull and West Brom winger, aged 33, has been linked with Nottingham Forest, Legia Warsaw and Pogon Szczecin.

His agent told the Polish press that he hopes to get a new club sorted early this month to try to get back in the international squad for upcoming World Cup qualifiers.

He has apparently “received most inquiries from Turkish teams” but has been training on his own in Birmingham and Szczecin, where he is developing an academy.

JOSE IZQUIERDO

The 29-year-old Colombia left winger cost Brighton £13.5m when he joined in 2017 but has missed the best part of two years due to knee operations.

At his best, he was an unpredictable and skilful with a wicked shot and infectious personality. He finally got back on the pitch in April, as a substitute against Sheffield United, and still hopes he has a future in the Premier League.

He has been linked Anderlecht and with a return to Club Brugge, where he is loved.

JAMES McCARTHY

Republic of Ireland international, aged 30, was one of 14 players released by Palace at the end of last season and is being linked with Celtic.

Ex-Palace defender Damien Delaney told the Irish Mirror: “The days of James playing 40/50 games a season, the combative player that he is, are finished. He has to be severely managed but he’s not finished by any stretch of the imagination.

“He proved he can play. In the right environment with the right manager, and the right requirements from him, if managers accept that he only gets 20 or 25 games a season or sub appearances, then he has a role to play.”

HAL ROBSON-KANU

Striker and turmeric ambassador, aged 32, has ended a five-year stay at West Brom and has also been linked with Bristol City.

Worked alongside Mark Hughes as a BBC pundit for Wales matches during Euro 2020 after missing out on a place in Rob Page’s squad.

NEIL TAYLOR

Another Wales international – and Rob Page was already spotted at Stoke for the friendly against Wolves on Saturday. Left-back, aged 32, left Villa after 103 appearances in four-and-a-half seasons.

Has been linked with Istanbul Basaksehir, QPR and Stoke – and Villa gave him the opportunity to maybe return one day as a coach – but he remains a free agent.

CONNOR WICKHAM

Perennially linked with Stoke over the years, Wickham is still only 28 and a free agent after leaving Crystal Palace.

It was an injury-spattered six seasons at Selhurst Park, featuring one loan move to Sheffield Wednesday, and he didn’t play a competitive game last term – but was back in the match day squad in the spring.

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