8 Premier League stars who urgently need to leave their clubs this month
Mathieu Debuchy (Arsenal)
A fun if often frustrating player at Newcastle, the France full-back has been unreservedly frozen out in north London during the past year-and-a-half, and coastal moves to Nice and Brighton both collapsed at the last minute over summer. “I am training with the professionals during the week and I am playing with the youngsters at the weekend,” he lamented back in September. “I am not the future.”
Although Arsene Wenger praised Debuchy’s “mental strength” as recently as last month in the wake of his Europa League goal against BATE Borisov, the compliments never stretched beyond platitudes. It's a staggering fact that since joining the club for £12m 2014, Debuchy has only played 13 Premier League games – which, once wages are factored into his fee, tallies up at over £2m per league appearance.
Bad luck with injury accounts for much of that, of course, but Debuchy’s career needn’t be over just yet – he's still only 32. His career at the Emirates, though, certainly is.
Lazar Markovic (Liverpool)
The winger signed in that disastrous post-Luis Suarez splurge is, believe it or not, part of Liverpool’s squad this season. The fact that his sole involvement in first-team affairs so far has been as an unused substitute for a single League Cup tie suggests, however, that he may not be for much longer.
As it stands, Markovic exists as an object lesson in how a badly judged move can derail a player’s career. He was a 20-year-old, thrillingly mercurial winger when snapped up for £20m four years ago, but his career since has constituted three abortive loan spells and a despondent failure to make the most of the paltry half-chances he’s been given at Anfield.
Some good form for a briefly resurgent Hull at the back end of last season was a reminder that an electric player still exists in there somewhere. A similarly low-key move in January could, just maybe, work a treat for all involved.
Jack Colback (Newcastle)
At first, Colback’s decision to incite the wrath of Wearside by jumping ship from Sunderland back in 2014 looked like a smart one. The midfielder was a fixture in Newcastle’s midfield during his first two years at St James’ Park, with his tidy ball-playing game showing a maturity that suggested he’d be at the heart of his side’s future.
Yet despite remaining central to Rafa Benitez’s set-up throughout last season’s promotion campaign, he has been comprehensively bombed out in the months since. If injury to Mikel Merino – a similarly diminutive midfield passer – offered a ray of light in November, the manager quickly plunged the 28-year-old back into darkness. Benitez made it clear he’d sooner man his engine room with an out-of-position Chancel Mbemba than with Colback.
Assuming the 28-year-old takes the hints and gets on his bike – and provided he’s capable of the level he played at a couple of years back – there could well be a canny signing for a club willing to take a small risk.
Yaya Toure (Manchester City)
When Pep Guardiola came to blows with Yaya Toure shortly after joining Manchester City – or more accurately his agent, Dimitri Seluk – it looked like the curtain was drawing on the great midfielder’s City career. Thankfully, both manager and player were able to put any petty differences aside and Toure had a welcome return to the fold last term, making 22 Premier League starts as City underwent in their first season of the Great Guardiola Reboot.
This season, however, that figure has dropped rather starkly – to zero, in fact. And while the 34-year-old Toure may have plenty to offer off the pitch, he surely has something to offer on it too – if only for a little while longer.
Admittedly only a small clutch of clubs would be able to afford Toure’s wages, many of which City wouldn't be keen to sell to. But is there a more glorious idea than one of the greatest midfielders to have played in England recharging his engine for one last job?