Shaun Maloney (attacking midfield)
Maloney last turned out for Hull City in the Premier League in the Tigers penultimate game – playing 45 minutes in a 4-0 reversal at the hands of Crystal Palace. At the end of Hull’s ill-fated 2016/17 Premier League campaign, the former Celtic man found out that he was not to be kept on at the KCOM, being released as a free agent after scoring twice and assisting another seven times in 37 games for the East Yorkshire side.
Maloney’s journey in football began with Albion Boys Club in 1996, before he was taken on by Scottish football giants Celtic, the Malaysian-born Scot progressing into the Celtic first-team at the start of the 2001/02 SPL season. In all, the attacking midfielder made 131 appearances for Celtic, 131 appearances that led to 29 goals and 31 assists.
These appearances for the Bhoys were split by a £1.3 million January 2007 transfer to the Premier League with Aston Villa. Whilst at Villa, Maloney made 33 appearances, scoring seven and assisting two goals. He returned north of the border and back to Celtic in a £2.6 million transfer.
He finally left Celtic for good at the end of August 2011 in a £1 million move to Wigan Athletic for whom he played 91 games, scoring 15 times and assisting in 16 other goals. Another move beckoned with a £500,000 transfer to MLS side Chicago Fire in January 2015, Maloney scoring three goals and assisting three others before a move back to England, and the Premier League with Hull City.
His age, he is 34-years-old, is likely to put off potential suitors from competitions like the Premier League and the Sky Bet Championship, it shouldn’t be used as an excuse by a League One side. Maloney is a 47 cap/seven goal Scotland international who last appeared for Scotland in a 3-0 loss to France in June last year – that class should be excuse enough for a League One side to want to consider him.
Leon Best (striker)
Leon Best is your archetypal ‘journeyman’ footballer having turned out for 12 sides over his career. This is a career that stretches from 2004, with Southampton, to 2017, when he was released by Ipswich. In total, for these 12 sides, Best has made 312 career appearances and scored a total of 64 goals.
Despite making the breakthrough into the Southampton first-team squad in 2004, Best made just 17 appearances (four goals) for the Saints in a career diluted by a series of loan moves to the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, Bournemouth and Yeovil Town. Eventually, after three years of loan deals, Southampton sold him to Coventry City for around £800,000.
It was at Coventry that Best made a name for himself, featuring in 104 games for the Sky Blues – scoring 23 times and laying on 10 assists for teammates. His next stop, courtesy of a £2 million transfer fee, was Newcastle United – Best going on to make 46 appearances (10 goals/seven assists) for the Magpies before a £3.2 million move to Blackburn at the start of July 2012.
He featured just 16 times for Rovers, scoring two goals, in an unhappy spell before the Lancashire side released him in July 2015 after loan deals to Derby and Brighton. He was picked up from free agency by Rotherham in November 2016 – playing 16 times for the Millers and scoring four goals. A free transfer saw him move to Ipswich in August 2016, where he played 12 games before his release at the start of this month.
At 30-years-old Leon Best is certainly not finished in football. By dropping down a league, especially to a side with an active midfield that would keep him supplied with quality ball, best could very well reinvent himself, with the potential to return a healthy number of goals.