Arshavin, Cole & five returning Premier League players who must impress in pre-season

After temporary stays at other clubs, a number of Premier League players are fighting for their futures ahead of the start of the 2012-13 campaign in August
By Jamie Dunn

Some see pre-season friendlies as little more than a money-spinning PR exercise for clubs, who jet around the world in an attempt to boost their fanbases.

But for the players, it is so much more than that. It is a chance to make your mark at the earliest possible opportunity ahead of the new season, in the hope of cementing your place in the starting XI.

And for those who fell out of favour during the previous season and were loaned out to other clubs, it is the chance to prove the manager wrong, or impress the new boss at a team where the future might have looked bleak.

A number of high profile players found themselves out in the relative wilderness last season, and these five are just a small selection who must know they must grab the chances this summer brings with both hands if they are to feature regularly in the Premier League next season.


A signing of the Rafa Benitez era at Anfield, Alberto Aquilani's appearances in his first season at Liverpool were limited by injury, making his competitive debut in October, and as a result the former Roma man was only able to show the extent of his ability in fits and starts.

Consecutive seasons on loan at Juventus and most recently AC Milan have seen Aquilani feature more regularly, though the midfielder was unable to make himself an automatic starter at San Siro during the last campaign.

The Serie A runners up look unlikely to take up the option of buying the Italian, who may now be afforded the chance to impress new Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers ahead of next season. Doubts remain over his long-term Liverpool future, but a strong showing over the summer may well save what has so far been a calamitous deal for the Reds.


Russia international Andrey Arshavin immediately captured the imagination upon his arrival at Arsenal in 2009, making a string of promising performances culminating in a four-goal haul in a 4-4 draw with Liverpool in April of the same year.

But Arshavin has become an increasing source of frustration for the majority of Gunners fans during his time at the Emirates Stadium, and the forward was ultimately loaned back to Zenit St Petersburg for the rest of the season in February.

Zenit won the Russian Premier League title and are keen for Arshavin to return, but after showing flashes of quality at Euro 2012, the forward could still have a feature in north London if he impresses in pre-season.


An Achilles injury prevented Yossi Benayoun from making a significant impact at Chelsea following his move to Stamford Bridge from Liverpool in 2010.

The Israel international made just 11 appearances before being loaned out to Arsenal for the duration of last season, where he made significant contributions at times, without being a regular feature in the starting XI.

Following the arrival of Eden Hazard and Marko Marin, Benayoun is facing a struggle to prove he can still be a part of Roberto Di Matteo's plans and will have to impress in preparations for the new campaign or face an uncertain transfer window.


Hailed as something of a coup in the summer of 2010, the free transfer signing of Joe Cole was one of the first of the ill-fated Roy Hodgson era at Liverpool, but the former Chelsea man never hit the heights he had at Stamford Bridge in his debut season.

The former England international was sent off in his first Premier League game for the club against Arsenal, and, like Aquilani, struggled with injury, before being sent to Lille by Kenny Dalglish for the entire 2011-12 season, winning plenty of fans in France in the process.

A player Rodgers knows from his time as a coach at Chelsea, Cole could be given the opportunity to salvage his move to Anfield this summer.


With first team opportunities proving hard to come by at mega-rich Manchester City, John Guidetti was sent on loan to Feyenoord for the 2011-12 season and flourished in the Eredivisie.

The 20-year-old scored 20 goals in 23 games in the Netherlands, helping Feyenoord finish second in the table behind Ajax, qualifying for the Champions League in the process.

Injury prevented Guidetti from involvement at Euro 2012 with Sweden, but with the futures of Carlos Tevez and Eden Dzeko uncertain at Eastlands and the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor and Roque Santa Cruz set to leave, Guidetti could prove in pre-season that Roberto Mancini needn't delve into the transfer market for an attacking threat.