Darius Vassell is among the more high-profile figures dropping into the free agent market this summer, with the 30-year-old striker a household name in English football.
He first burst onto the scene as a local lad made good at Aston Villa and it was during his time in the Midlands that he earned international recognition. Vassell turned out for England at the 2002 World Cup and 2004 European Championship and has scored six goals in his 22 appearances to date.
A four-year spell at Manchester City saw him demonstrate his versatility, as he was often deployed in a much wider role to that which he had grown accustomed.
Having left Eastlands in 2009, Vassell decided to try his luck abroad and has recently ended a 12-month stint with Turkish outfit Ankaragucu.
Is it worrying being an out of contract player in the current climate or is that now part and parcel of a footballer's career?
Because there are so many 'free agents' at the moment there will inevitably be a lot of competition with regards to finding a new club. This is worrying, and it should be especially to players who are without representation or those who have found themselves in difficult situations in which the support of their football club would normally take care. I also believe it is a time when clubs can really source bargain signings if they are patient and make shrewd decisions. Every 'free agent' is a separate and individual situation with regards to how a club or player addresses their own stance about signing a contract. Although so many players fall under the umbrella of being a 'free agent', there are different reasons as to why and how this came about.
There are more and more players entering the free agent market every summer, is it an issue which the authorities need to address?
In terms of addressing the situation, it's a question of who needs to address it. As stated before there are different reasons that becoming 'free' - a confusing term - is allowed to be an option. Some players want the freedom to make a new decision without the drawbacks of transfer fees etc, like Joe Cole maybe, some clubs allow a player's contract to run out in order to reduce wage bills etc, some players are made redundant, some players terminate their contracts, some clubs believe a player's age renders them not worth a contract renewal and then revert to pay as you play deals.
How do you approach the summer? Is it just a case of sitting tight?
I personally have been addressing certain issues regarding my license and registration so I can officially be free to sign for a new club - which hopefully will be at the end of this week - so it's not until now, the third week into July, that I can begin to make discussions and contact with potential new clubs. I have spent most of the summer waiting to be 'free' so to speak. Again as stated before I have had a different experience to most in becoming out of contract and it's taken a little time to receive confirmation of my status, so I'm a couple of months behind in comparison to the opportunities that have been available since the end of the season.
Do you have an idea as to the standard you would like to play at?
The highest possible standard is always an ideal for most players but my personal circumstance of becoming engaged and hopefully embarking on the journey of starting a new family is key. Playing for a club with ambition and the vision to achieve something within the timeframe of any contract I may potentially sign would be great in terms of achieving something that my family can be proud of. Making good use of my hunger to get back into action is paramount.
Would you be prepared to relocate? Do you have to go where the contracts are?
I have recently returned from a contractual relocation and it's an experience to say the least. An important part of relocating is player support. I would definitely consider a move abroad again if that's where the opportunities are but to be honest I would make certain that there was a framework in place at said club that can provide the assistance that is necessary for foreign players.
Are you confident you will get something sorted? There is still plenty of time before the season starts.
I'm not sure at the moment. I have been given some good advice and help from the PFA, I have hired a personal trainer to keep in trim, but for the time being I will need to assess the options available and make a decision based on those. It's just not been possible personally to do much more until the complications of me returning from playing abroad have been addressed.
What do you feel you would offer prospective employers? What are your best attributes?
I would be shocked if people didn't know that my strengths are about pace, power and penetration in the final third.
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