Clubs in the Premier League last season have cast the deadwood to one side, and it does not make for pretty reading for any accountant.
Andrey Arshavin, David Bentley, Roque Santa Cruz, and Florent Malouda were all big money signings for their respective clubs when they joined but have all been let go for nothing.
As usual, you could make a pretty decent Premier League XI from the latest batch of free agents but what can clubs learn from looking at those 154 players who have been let go?
Well the biggest lesson to take from it must be that one good season doesn’t make a superstar. Santa Cruz cost £17.5million off the back of one great campaign at Blackburn Rovers.
For their sizable investment, City got three goals out of the Paraguay international from his four years at the club. That works out as roughly £5.83millionper goal. Even by City’s standards, that is expensive.
Arshavin and Bentley cost Arsenal and Tottenham similar amounts of cash and never repaid much of it in their time in north London. The trio of Santa Cruz, Bentley, and Arshavin were all long-term investments that did not work out but there are certainly plenty of short-term buys on the released list.
Tal Ben Haim is the perfect example of that after his contract with QPR ended. In an age where most clubs need to manage their money carefully, mercenaries like the Israeli are a dangerous gamble.
Some, such as Mahamadou Diarra at Fulham and Thomas Hitzlsperger at Everton, are keen to play their way back into contention for a long-term contract, while others are happy to collect the big money on offer in the Premier League.
Of course, the big casualties on the released list are those youngsters who do not make the grade. Some will go on to have decent careers but many will disappear off the radar completely.
It is tough to feel sorry for a Premier League footballer, given the money involved, but to have your dreams crushed after years of hard work is a blow many of us will understand and sympathise with.