As the market becomes awash with free agents, clubs will also start to target players that are heading in to the final year of their contracts in an attempt to find value in the market. There are certainly some interesting names that fall in this category, like;
Cardiff were quick to move for Preston’s Greg Cunningham last summer, but should they make another call to Deepdale to enquire about his Republic of Ireland team mate Callum Robinson? He can play in any position across a front three and has a double-figure goal return for the season. If Cardiff are in the market for a versatile forward, there are few better in the Championship.
Massimo Luongo seems to be out of sight and out of mind at QPR, who have been a bit of a car crash in recent years. A midfield destroyer that would be right up Neil Warnock’s street, the only surprise is that he has not already raided his former club for his services. Luongo, 26, has gone from winning the Asian Cup and being named as the player of the tournament to, well QPR. No disrespect, he says disrespectfully, but he could do a lot better.
Cardiff are losing their baldy midfield destroyer in the summer, so why not replace like for like with Luongo’s Australian team-mate Aaron Mooy? One of the few shining lights in a torrid season for Huddersfield, the 28-year-old Australian international does a bit of everything in midfield and would ensure a seamless transition.
Mooy’s midfield partner Philip Billing may also be up for grabs. The rangy 6ft 6in Dane is class personified and joined the club as a 16-year-old. Now 22, he will be keen to remain in the top flight and should Cardiff retain their top flight status, they could certainly do with someone with his finesse in the heart of the side.
If you merged Kenneth Zohore and Oumar Niasse, you would probably get something resembling Jonathan Kodja. The 29-year-old Villa front man may have been hampered by injury and overshadowed by Tammy Abraham this season, but the Ivory Coast international remains a prolific scorer and potent attacking fulcrum for club and country.
Charles Austin, now 29, is one of those players that just feels like a Cardiff player in waiting. Imagine him and Callum Paterson in tandem, like the real life Mario Brothers. Surplus to requirements at Southampton, he is another big earner and has a knee like a packet of crisps, but fit would be tailor made for Cardiff’s needs. All about the goals.
How is Matt Phillips not a Cardiff player already? Linked with the club when they went up in 2013, linked again last summer, it feels like he has already played for us. The powerful right winger would be a good fit in a problem position and the 28-year-old Scottish international played briefly for Warnock at QPR. This one ticks a lot of boxes, unless Cardiff and West Brom swap places.
The same rule applies to Craig Dawson, also linked with Cardiff way back when and a current Baggies stalwart. Dawson, 28, looks nothing like a centre back, but that has not stopped him being a very good one and while Sol Bamba remains sidelined, Cardiff look a little thin in that department. He is also versatile enough to fill in at right back.
Christian Benteke scored his first goal in almost a year last week in the 3-2 win at Arsenal, taking his total to four league goals in the last couple of injury-interrupted seasons. Not exactly what Crystal Palace would have expected when they shelled out £28m for him and agreed to wages believed to be around £120,000-per-week.
Benteke was prolific in his first year with the club and Roy Hodgson was quick to praise him at the weekend, claiming; “He’s more than just a goal scorer, his all-round performance was fantastic.” Those comments belie the fact that they’re desperate to get rid of the 28-year-old and are willing to practically gift him away. He may be down on his luck and a bit rich for Cardiff’s tastes, but if you’re in the market for a target man, he could prove a smart option.
Jarrod Bowen/Kamil Grosicki
It seems right to lump together Hull’s crown jewels. Jarrod Bowen, who was linked with Cardiff in January, has enjoyed a remarkable breakthrough season, with 21 goals and four assists, while Kamil Grosicki has returned the favour with nine goals and 12 assists, many of which were for Bowen. They may be at very different points in their respective careers, with Bowen 22 and Grosicki 31 in the summer, but these wing wonders are sure to be in demand when the window opens.
The Argentine enigma is running out of time if he is to make a mark on the Premier League, which is undoubtedly the level he should be playing at. Now 29, Forestieri gave everyone a timely reminder of his abilities by spanking one in from about 35 yards against champions elect Norwich recently. Everyone insists that Cardiff are in desperate need of a goal scorer, but you could argue that they need some to fashion chances even more. Forestieri is a handful, but well worth the hassle.