Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Slipping out the back door

Pick up a newspaper today and the chances are the back pages are filled with talk of Robinho, Berbatov and the many other players moving to new clubs before the Premier League transfer window closed last night.

Yet for all the players grabbing the headlines and milking the spotlight, there are those that have been shown the door to make way for them in recent weeks. Here's our look at some of the names we've gotten used to seeing in the Premier League over the years who'll now (if only briefly) exit quietly Stage Left.

Patrik Berger
Aston Villa to Sparta Prague
The former Czech Republic midfielder who arrived at Liverpool from Borussia Dortmund in 1996 spent seven years with The Reds, scoring 28 goals in 148 appearances. He became a fans' favourite before moving onto Portsmouth and Aston Villa where injuries limited the number of games he played. After a loan spell with Stoke last season, he returned to Villa and played his last game in England in the 2-0 defeat at home to Wigan at the beginning of May 2008. A few weeks later, the 34-year-old Berger joined Sparta Prague as a free agent on a two year contract.

Stephane Henchoz
Blackburn Rovers (released)
When Stephane Henchoz arrived at Blackburn Rovers in 1997, it was the start of a long tour of British clubs that would eventually end back at Ewood Park this summer. The Swiss defender started his career at Neuchatel Xamax five years earlier before moving to Hamburg in 1995, but his arrival at Blackburn preceded relegation from the top flight where he was quickly snapped up by Gerard Houllier at Liverpool. It would prove to be the most successful period of his career, lasting six years before short spells at Celtic and Wigan followed. Henchoz returned to Blackburn in 2006 where he made just thirteen more appearances before his release by new manager Mark Hughes.

Stelios Giannakopoulos
Bolton Wanderers (released)
Greek winger Stelios was a player renowned for scoring plenty of goals at the Reebok and important ones too. In the five years he was there, he averaged one goal every six games including many that helped Bolton progress in cup competitions and avoid relegation in the Premier League. He was also their top scorer in 2005/06 but when manager Sam Allardyce left the club a year later and with injuries affecting his performance, the writing was on the wall for the popular midfielder. His contract was not renewed by Gary Megson this summer and a return to Greece may now be on the cards for him.

Paul Dickov
Manchester City to Leicester City
The term 'journeyman' hardly does Paul Dickov justice. Even while at Arsenal for the first six years of his career, he was loaned out to Luton Town and Brighton before arriving at Manchester City for the first time in 1996. Here, the battling Scottish striker scored 35 times in 158 appearances and played under five different managers during a turbulent time for the Maine Road club. He was eventually sold by Kevin Keegan to Leicester City where he averaged a goal every three games, but despite doing well for The Foxes, he expressed a desire to return to the Premier League which was provided when Blackburn bought him in 2004. After a further two years, he returned to Man City for the second time, squeezing in loan spells at Crystal Palace and Blackpool before returning, aged 35, to Leicester City for a second spell there.

Ian Harte
Sunderland (released)
The direct antithesis of Paul Dickov, transfer-wise, Ian Harte has just three names on his CV. The most prominent of these is without question Leeds United who Harte played for between 1996 and 2004. Here he developed a reputation as a dependable left back and set-piece specialist who quickly became a regular for the Republic of Ireland team. Having helped Leeds reach the semi-final of the Champions League in 2001, the club started to self-destruct and a few years later Harte made a surprise move to Spanish club Levante where he played for three seasons. In August 2007, Harte returned to England with a move to Sunderland but after just seven appearances, he was released by former team-mate Roy Keane and is currently looking for a new employer for the 2008/09 season.

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