Premier League cast-off

When rumours linking Patrick Viera to Leeds United emerged earlier this week, I was so amused by this seemingly ridiculous speculation that I offered to run around Elland Road naked should it happen.

It’s been a summer of widespread speculation with more names linked to Elland Road than I have time to list, many of them ridiculous, most of them failing to come true, which is why the Viera link was so easy to dismiss. That was however, before Crystal Palace unveiled Edgar Davids as their latest signing and Craig Bellamy joined Cardiff on a season-long loan.

The Edgar Davids news first of all falls somewhere between ridiculous and genius from Palace. Cleverly, the London club have agreed to a pay-as-you-play deal, which should keep the expenses down given that Davids has been out of the game for two years and is unlikely to be anywhere near full fitness.

The true genius of it all is that this puts Palace in the headlines, and will put a lot more bums on seats while ever he’s with them. You can’t buy better publicity for a club than an over-the-hill, semi-retired, former legend coming back for one last hurrah.

I do have to wonder whether Palace have bitten off a lot more than they can chew however. Notwithstanding the hefty wages he’ll be on when he does play which will probably see them back on the brink of financial ruin in no time, I also have to wonder what affect this will have on the other players. Footballers are notoriously attention-craving, egomaniacs that love nothing more than being in the spotlight. Not many of Palace’s players are going to draw much attention with Davids in the team, and this jealousy is likely to extend off the field too when the former Dutch international pulls in, in his £300k sports car that the rest of the team combined could ill-afford.

Whilst the motives behind Davids move to Palace are simply unexplainable, Craig Bellamy’s move to Cardiff is where things get really interesting. Bellamy will no doubt try to portray his move as a labour of love, returning to his childhood team with visions of taking them to the peak of English football.

The truth however, is that Bellamy was never going to make City’s final 25 and their manager isn’t daft enough to loan him to another Premier League Club. This left Bellamy short of options, so off to Cardiff he went – so grateful for their hospitality that he refused a wage-cut, meaning the Welsh side will be back in the red in no time as football finances continue to spiral out of control. Not one to sing from my high-horse considering Leeds’ financial implosion, but you’d have thought someone, somewhere would have taken note? Evidently not.

The Bellamy move was the first of what is likely to be a mass exodus of Premier League players when the clubs confirm their final 25 for the season. At 34, Patrick Viera is unlikely to make the final cut at Manchester City which does add some weight to the speculation linking him with a player/coaching role at Leeds. More interestingly will be the amount of players that are forced to drop a level come September the 1st. Will Simon Grayson be ready to catch the best of them, or will Leeds be left picking up the crumbs? Over to you Larry…