Free Agent

Skysports.com looks at the summer's transfer bargains

Like many footballers this summer JP Kalala faces an anxious wait by the phone as finances dictate smaller and smaller squads at Football League level.

The Congo DR international has proven to be an accomplished midfield destroyer since announcing his arrival in English football in 2005, with spells at Grimsby, Yeovil and Oldham cementing his reputation.

Kalala is currently a free agent having left Oldham in the summer, with new Latics boss Dave Penney eager to clear his ranks and make wholesale changes at Boundary Park upon his appointment.

The 27-year-old, who is keen to stay in English football, admits his time at Oldham was all too often interrupted by niggling injuries.

"I'm a free agent after being released by Oldham last year," he told skysports.com.

"The new manager came in and he wanted to bring in his own players and that's fair enough. It's something you get used to football. Right now I'm looking for a new club.

"I felt a bit unlucky but I've no bad feelings towards (Penney's predecessor) John Sheridan. In my two years there, when I look back, I feel I had a few injuries and that makes it difficult. I was on for two weeks, off for two weeks. I could never really show my best.

"I was never match fit all the time and able to stay fit long enough to make my mark. I am the type of player that needs to be at the peak of my fitness to really shine.

"Dave Penney came in at the end of the season but he didn't take charge. He just took a few sessions and weighed things up. When the season was over he said he wanted to bring in his own guys and that's okay."

Keeping fit

In a bid to be at optimum fitness when a club comes calling, Kalala is currently training with French club AS Cannes. Although comfortable back in the country where started his career at Nice, Kalala has no intention to move there permanently as he sets his heart on staying in England.

"I'm training in France with Cannes at the moment, trying to keep my fitness up. Hopefully something will come up. There have been a few teams interested but nothing concrete as yet. I guess I'll just have to be patient.

"At the present time I'm looking to stay in England. I like the football here and I'm not looking to go anywhere else. But, you never know. If it's not going to be possible to stay in England, then going overseas could be right for me.

"I just need a fresh challenge and I think that not having a club right now is giving me even more motivation. I think when I do get fixed up I'll be a different player - mentally stronger certainly."

With around 500 players out of contract Kalala admits the marketplace is more competitive than ever, due to clubs cutting their cloth according to the current economic downturn.

He is, though, refusing to be downbeat as he uses his time without a club to reflect on, and appreciate his career to date.

"You have to be anxious, it's difficult, after all it's your football career. You are anxious and you are worried but you know it's just the way it is. You have to cope with that, you have to stay strong. You have to keep training and stay fit; there is nothing more you can do. You have to be mentally ready all the time, things could happen when you least expect it.

"Clubs are cutting the numbers now; they work with tighter numbers because of the credit crunch. It's now difficult to find a club because everyone is cutting costs. I think that's the case for a lot of players, it's certainly a difficult summer."

Kalala spent part of last season on loan at Grimsby Town, where he impressed in helping the club fend off the threat of the drop. Mariners boss Mike Newell was keen to sign him on a permanent basis in January but Kalala decided he needed a fresh challenge, away from the club with whom he started his English adventure.

"It was a decision of mine. I was offered a contract in January but I preferred to stay at Oldham," he added.

Tough choice

"It was my choice, now the future will decide whether I was right or wrong. But I don't regret it. I had a great time with Mike Newell and his staff at Blundell Park - the fans too, they were great there.

"I just feel going back there for a third time is not quite what I'm looking for. I'd like a fresh start. I need a challenge where I can start afresh."

Having excelled in Yeovil's surprise achievement of reaching the League One play-offs in 2006/2007, the one-time Huish Park favourite has proved his credentials at a decent level. For now, though, he'll be waiting by the phone.

"At the moment I'm just waiting for something to come up. My agent is working on my behalf and I just have to trust him. If something comes up he'll let me know. The only thing I can do is train hard and keep myself in the best possible state.

"It's hard but I can cope with it and overall, I think it will make me stronger. When I do get a club I'll be a better, stronger player.

"I'm a hard working player, first and foremost. I try and break up the play and keep it simple. I play it how I see it in front of me. I'm a very good tackler, a destructive player that gets the ball back for my team-mates."