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Five Premier League players Charlotte FC could target this summer

By Brian Maurer

Dele Alli (Photo courtesy of Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)

Last week, Sky Sports reported that six English Premier League clubs (Chelsea, Aston Villa, Everton, Nottingham Forest, Leicester City, and Newcastle United) needed to sell players to meet salary requirements based on the EPL’s rules*. If this is the case there will be an opportunity for several teams to acquire players from these clubs.

What will likely happen first is bigger clubs will inquire about some of the higher-profile players like Raheem Sterling, Ollie Watkins, etc. Depending on the direction these clubs take when getting their budget down, smaller clubs, like Charlotte FC, could take advantage of the situation. Some of these clubs are also cutting ties with several veteran players making them potential free-agent signings. Here is a list of some notable veterans and young prospects from these English clubs who could fit in Charlotte:

Aston Villa

Jhon Durán (20) - Center-forward

Photo courtesy of Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Durán was sold to Villa from the Chicago Fire for a massive fee back in January 2023. Since the transfer, the Colombian has been limited to just over 1200 minutes. He hasn’t quite broken into the team at Villa yet so there might be an opportunity to get him on a short-term loan. MLS would be familiar territory for him to get minutes as he waits for his time to break through in the EPL.

He had 13 goal contributions in 1364 MLS minutes for the Fire before he transferred. The young striker would bring MLS experience and push Charlotte’s young attacker (Patrick Agyemang) to try and reach another level.


Dele Alli (28) - Attacking midfielder

Alli is set to be a free agent this summer. Everton, however, is interested in giving him another look, but if money is as tight as initially reported that might not be possible. If the attacking midfielder does indeed hit free agency, then several clubs will likely be willing to take a risk on him.

It is a major risk, as Alli recovers from an injury that held him out of the entire 23/24 campaign. His production and minutes have been waning for years. But, when he was at his peak in his early 20s he performed at a world-class level. Alli will likely look for better options in England, but recovering from injuries after struggling to produce for years could leave his negotiating power limited. It’s a long shot, but Charlotte could provide something like a clean slate if they are willing to take the risk on him.

Nottingham Forest

Chris Wood (32) - Center-forward

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Wood, like Alli, is also set to be a free agent at the end of June. According to Capology, he was on one of Forest’s biggest contracts last season so the chance he does not sign a new deal seems good. The New Zealander had 16 goal contributions (15g/1a) in 24 starts in all competitions this past season for Forest. Looks like he still has goals in him, and for a club like Charlotte who’s desperate to add a few more goals to their game this looks like an ideal short-term fit.

The veteran striker would come in as the starter out of the gate, and highlight the level that Agyemang would need to hit to get himself on top and reach his potential. The key for a move like this would be if Premier League veterans Ashley Westwood, and Head Coach Dean Smith can sell the Charlotte move.

Leicester City

Dennis Praet (30) - Center-midfielder

Photo courtesy of Leicester City FC

Praet will also be testing the free agent market this summer. He never really took off during his time in England, but he found regular minutes during his time in Serie A and was a productive goal contributor in his early days for Anderlecht. Smith will have some familiarity with Praet as he coached him during his short stint with Leicester before they were relegated.

Charlotte has struggled to hit on veteran midfielders. Brecht Dejaegere (33) and Scott Arfield (35) both have done little more to impress than fill in as depth rotation. However, when Charlotte has looked to England for experienced players (Westwood and Nathan Byrne) their return has been far greater.

The Belgian is not going to be Charlotte’s first choice to upgrade their midfield, but a spark centrally is needed. If the window does not pan out how they plan, a veteran free agent like Praet would be better than not making any signings in the midfield at all.

Newcastle United

Ryan Fraser (30) - Left-winger

Photo courtesy of Lee Smith

Fraser is returning to Newcastle United after a yearlong loan with Southampton. He had eight goal contributions (6g/2a) in 13 starts in the Championship last season. The Scottish international has struggled to earn a regular role since signing with Newcastle back in 2020, and if the club is looking to cut some costs Fraser seems like a likely candidate.

The winger has seven years of EPL experience, the brightest years being during his time at Bournemouth. After his 2018/19 campaign, he won both the Bournemouth Supporters’ and Players’ Player of the Year awards. He had 21 PL goal contributions (7g/14a) during that season.

According to Transfermarkt, Fraser has one year left on his contract with Newcastle. Given the lack of minutes, the apparent need to make budget cuts, and the limited amount of time left on his contract, Charlotte could probably make a bid that would be enticing.

Others worth noting

André Gomes (30) - The Portugues midfielder will be a free agent this summer.

Lewis Dobbin (21) - The Everton academy prospect could be an option on a loan deal to get minutes.

Divock Origi (29) - The veteran forward’s situation is a bit complicated. He was on loan with Forest this past year (apparently there is an option to buy in this contract). He is under contract with AC Milan through 2026. Does not seem like he has found a good fit since leaving Liverpool. Origi could be a risky option once his contract situation is sorted. 

Emmanuel Dennis (26) - Was loaned out the past two seasons after Nottingham Forest paid a big transfer fee (~$15 million) for him.

Kelechi Iheanacho (27) - The Nigerian forward will be a free agent this summer.

Marc Albrighton (34) - The English midfielder will be a free agent this summer.

Callum Wilson (32) - He’s a long shot, but he only has one year left on his contract and his 23/24 campaign was riddled with injuries. It depends on how Newcastle analyzes its future with Alexander Isak’s breakout campaign.

*Sky Sports later reported that Chelsea did not need to sell players this season to meet PSR