Top Ten - PL's Forgotten Men
One of the effects of the Premier League's 25-man squad rules is the allowance for players to easily establish whether they are surplus to requirements, having the desired intention of tempting them into moves down and across the footballing ladder.
Last Updated: 16/11/12 3:17pm
Some individuals, it seems, do not get that hint, and here is our list of the top ten players who are in a position of extreme stagnation in the Premier League.
The three self-imposed rules are as follows:
1. Players cannot be out on loan at other clubs
2. Players cannot have featured in any minute of a Premier League game this season (you're a lucky boy Joe Cole)
3. Their absence cannot be solely due to injury
10. Diego Arismendi
When Arismendi made the decision to move from Nacional (one of South America's most famous clubs) in Montevideo to Stoke City he was 20 years old, had two Uruguay caps, and was considered to be one of his country's rising stars.
Since arriving in the Potteries for a fee of £2.6million (rising to £4.8million on appearances) the midfielder has not made a single Premier League appearance. Whilst his country has flourished, Arismendi has floundered.
Loan moves have occurred (Brighton, Barnsley and Huddersfield), but this season no club has offered the Uruguayan a temporary relief from his Stoke hell.
9. Andy Marshall
When Stuart Taylor moved to Manchester City in the summer transfer window, many remarked on the abnormality of the signing. It was clear that unless there was a goalkeeping crisis at Eastlands, Taylor would never be needed.
Such is the case at Villa Park, where in August 2009 Andy Marshall signed from Coventry City. The goalkeeper was 34 years of age, and was signed on a one-year deal. Marshall was released after one season at the club but was then oddly re-signed months later. He has remained at the club ever since.
Marshall has never played a single minute for Aston Villa in any competition, but was again named in the club's 25-man squad for the current season.
8. Michael Johnson
Johnson was seen as the bright young thing at Manchester City after bursting onto the scene in May 2007, but his fall from grace has been as stark (if not as rapid) as his rise.
The midfielder has had problems with injury and weight, but his last appearance in the Premier League was as an 89th minute substitute in September 2009.
The most disappointing aspect of Johnson's last three years are that, aside from a brief spell on loan at Leicester City, a once formidable prospect has played no competitive football. That's 445 minutes in 38 months.
Bebe would feature higher up this list if it were not for the suspicion that he actually isn't very good and, more worryingly, never was. However, the facts remain that Bebe was signed for a fee reported as £7.4million, and has played just 75 minutes in the Premier League in over two years. He has scored two competitive goals for the club.
The Portuguese striker went out on loan to Besiktas for the whole of last season, where he played four league games without scoring after serious injury. The Turkish club refused the opportunity to make the deal permanent.
6. Frederic Piquionne
When Piquionne joined Portsmouth on loan in 2009, he was 30 and had played for two of France's largest clubs (Lyon and Monaco) with an international cap to his name.
The striker followed Avram Grant from Portsmouth to the Boleyn Ground, where he scored nine goals as West Ham were relegated. Since then, Piquionne's influence has rapidly diminished. He scored just two goals in the Championship for the Hammers, and was eventually loaned to Doncaster, where he was relegated for the second consecutive season.
Whilst the assumption was that the Frenchman would move on, he has been unable (or possibly refused the opportunity) to even engineer a loan move, and was instead left out of West Ham's first-team squad for this season.
5. Federico Macheda
Despite bursting onto the scene with winning goals in his first two Premier League appearances, Macheda has still started only five league games in as many years at Old Trafford, and the light of his initial potential is beginning to wane.
Loan spells at Sampdoria and QPR have provided only a further three league starts, resulting in a crippling lack of competitive action, so crucial in player development.
Macheda has not moved on loan this season but is also evidently not of the ability to be in Alex Ferguson's current plans. With Wayne Rooney, Robin Van Persie, Javier Hernandez, Danny Welbeck all comfortably ahead in the queue, the Italian striker's next move must surely be permanent, and must surely be forthwith.
Signed for £5.7million as a 22-year-old from Deportivo La Coruna, Xisco must win some awards for the most questionable of Spanish signings. Xisco has spent two full seasons on loan from Newcastle at Deportivo and Racing Santander, but has scored just one goal in the black-and-white stripes (at least it was in a Tyne-Wear derby).
This season, the Spaniard has had to make do with appearances in the U21 Premier League, and the closest he has come to first-team selection was being asked to travel with the squad to Bruges. He didn't even make the substitutes' bench.
3. Luke Young
It is easy to forget that Luke Young was called up for an England squad as recently as 2009, and also played 25 games in the Premier League as QPR survived on the final day of last season.
Since then, Young has become a pariah at Loftus Road. After Mark Hughes signed Jose Bosingwa on a free transfer the manager made it clear that the England defender was not required, and he was omitted from QPR's Premier League squad.
Unfortunately, given that Young had been given a three-year contract just twelve months before, it appears that the defender is perfectly prepared to see out the deal.
2. Heurelho Gomes
One can understand why Carlo Cudicini is happy with his state of affairs at Spurs, and at 39 his footballing days are numbered. For Gomes, however, the situation is slightly less justifiable.
Gomes played 30 Premier League games in 2010/11 but none since, as the signing of Brad Friedel pushed the Brazilian down to second choice. This season, with Friedel and Hugo Lloris battling for the number one shirt, Gomes has no opportunity for appearances and yet remains at White Hart Lane.
From international football to third choice club goalkeeper in 24 months, and still just 31.
1. Florent Malouda
Chelsea have enacted something of an evolution in the last six months, allowing players such as Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Jose Bosingwa and Raul Meireles to leave. Quite how Florent Malouda, 32 and on the fringes of the first-team squad, managed to avoid such a clear-out is verging on remarkable.
The Frenchman's reported refusal to drop from his £80,000 per week wages may well have been a factor, but one hopes that rumours of a January move comes to fruition. Malouda is currently training with Chelsea's youth team, as his ostracisation at Stamford Bridge nears completion.
Given that Malouda is still appearing for France, any buying club would still obtain a winger of significant quality.