With Ryan Lowe confirmed as the new boss, we cast our eye over the free agents available for Plymouth Argyle to pick up during this 2019 summer transfer window.
Unlike many of the players on this list, Jon Guthrie is far from well-travelled. Since turning professional, Guthrie has only ever played in England. That’s not to say he is inexperienced – he has after all made over 200 EFL appearances. But they have come at just two clubs: first Crewe, and then Walsall. Guthrie has been released following Walsall’s relegation, and his very slow journey south could continue if Argyle choose to express an interest in the player.
Could he fit into Ryan Lowe’s system? Probably. Guthrie has played predominantly as a centre back across his career, particularly during his time at Walsall. However, he has been known to fill in at left back, and this suggests he could be perfect for the position on the left of the back three in Lowe’s 3-1-4-2 system.
There are of course some question marks regarding Guthrie. He was a regular part of Walsall’s defence last season, but has since been released after the side conceded 71 goals and suffered relegation. Furthermore, he’s hardly been a threat at the other end. Guthrie scored twice in a 3-2 defeat against Portsmouth last season, but those were the only goals of his 2018/19 campaign.
All things considered, however, Guthrie may be a solid addition for an Argyle side heading into League Two. He won Crewe’s players’ player of the season in 2015/16 after all.
Club: Bradford City
After spending three years at Valley Parade, the Bradford City centre half has inevitably been released following a dismal season for the club. Despite this, the 6ft defender is attracting plenty of attention due to his exciting past. After spending a large majority of his career in League One, the well-travelled centre half has been involved in numerous play-off chasing teams, including the Bradford side of 2016/17.
The 32-year-old may be unlikely to travel to the southern outlet of Plymouth Argyle after spending the majority of his career in the north of England. However, it is unlikely that there will be a large amount of interest from higher up the leagues due to last season’s poor performances. This could allow Argyle to swoop in and acquire the player.
A physical presence in air and not shy to a quick sprint, Knight-Percival would be likely to fit into Lowe’s system well. During his period with Peterborough United he showed excellent composure when on the ball as well as a technical gift in which allowed him to glide past opposition players. A converted left-back, Knight-Percival is now most commonly deployed as a left-sided centre half, though he also has the capability of playing on the right side as he appears to be able to use both feet at an adequate level.
For the second time in two summers, Matt Kilgallon will find himself a free agent after Hamilton saw fit not to offer him a new contract. Yet, this does not mean he is a player to be sniffed at. Quite the opposite. In fact, had Argyle been in possession of his leadership skills all year we might not be looking ahead to a season in League Two.
Aside from being a solid defender with good instincts, Kilgallon is a leader. Argyle lacked an organiser all season long. From back to front, Macey through Edwards and Fox racked up minutes but provided little organisational leadership.
Kilgallon would change that. His mental qualities have ensured that his career has continued at a respectable level even though it is reaching its twilight. Most notably, he won all three of Bradford’s player of the year awards as voted by the fans, players and local paper as recently as last season. It was all the more surprising, then, that Kilgallon was released. Less surprising that his old club shipped goals by the bucket-load last season as they finished bottom of the pile.
Instead, he helped ensure Scottish Premiership survival once more for Hamilton. Now, he could help rebuild a battered Argyle defence. With Lowe’s style focusing on all-out attack, the threat of counter attacks will always loom large. Meanwhile, the need for counter pressing also forms a big part of Lowe’s style. Both of these will need superb organisational and communication skills. Kilgallon could be the man for the job.
Status: In contract (could be terminated depending on Bury’s financial situation)
Possibly one of the more glamorous players on the list, Bury centre half Adam Thompson’s future is currently uncertain due to the club’s financial situation. The Northern Ireland born centre half started 96% of league matches last year under new Argyle manager Ryan Lowe.
Thompson was often deployed as either the right sided centre half or more commonly the middle of three. Starting just shy of 4000 minutes, the Bury number 5 was integral to their success and is obviously very accustomed to the system Ryan Lowe will deploy.
A more robust centre half measuring at 6ft tall, Thompson is more of a battering ram within the defence. This can allow him to exert aerial dominance over a large number of incoming balls. He is also seen very often being the first person to close down attackers who are lurking on the edge of the box instead of looking to block the ball from going goalwards.
However, despite this positivity, it is likely that Thompson will receive a large amount of League One interest due to last year’s success in a promotion winning team. On top of this, at the age of 26, Thompson still has numerous years left in him so would be a sound investment for a large amount of EFL clubs.
This signing would be unlikely, but due to the fact Lowe is now in charge, the personal relationship he possesses with the former Watford youngster could allow him to bring him in.
This article originally claimed Thompson was out of contract (per Transfermarkt). Thompson’s contract has a year remaining on it.
Club: AFC Wimbledon
After being released by former team AFC Wimbledon, Oshilaja is now looking for a new club. The 5ft 11 defender can play anywhere in a back four thanks to his exceptional speed. The Englishmen would presumably fit well into the back three system Argyle manager Ryan Lowe will look to deploy due to this. The 25-year-old would most likely be used as the right sided centre half purely due to the fact he is right footed.
However, despite the positives there is always a negative to join the story. In this case it comes in the form of interest from clubs who are in a better position than Argyle. In January it was reported that Luton Town were interested in the Wimbledon captain. It seems inevitable that clubs like this could offer more to the player, both financially and in terms of footballing standard.
Despite this, Wimbledon’s poor season could put off potential suitors – they may want to avoid the mobile defender due to the shoddy defence record that his team held last term.
Another factor which could put of potential employers would be the fact that he only started 54% of the Wombles games last year due to injury. With only 25 appearances to his name he was not as heavily involved as some may like. But as they come, Oshilaja is a cheap option who would most likely fill the bill for the recently relegated Greens.
Versatile defender Alex Baptiste has been around a bit. Perhaps his experience is something that could be of value to an Argyle side that, captain Gary Sawyer aside, does not have much in the way of leadership heading into the new season. He began his career at Mansfield, breaking through very young as an apprentice. He spent five years there before departing for Blackpool. It was there where Baptiste had the best years of his career.
If Argyle had appointed Ian Holloway as was speculated, Baptiste would surely have been a sure thing to sign. He was a big part of Blackpool’s modern golden era as they climbed to the Premier League and very nearly stayed there before making the play-off final again the following year. His move to Middlesbrough was not so successful, as he suffered a serious injury in his first pre-season. Since then, he has bounced around the Championship and lower leagues without really finding a settled home.
Baptiste usually plays as a centre-back but can occupy the full-back positions. Whilst those positions are not commonly used by manager Ryan Lowe, the fact that he is adept at them could suit his back three system due to the defender being used to dealing with wide threats. He would at least be a useful squad option if nothing else.
Club: Coventry City
A highly rated centre half by Coventry fans, Davies missed a majority of last season due to injury. This led to him being released. Davies had happier times in the past at Coventry – was a member of the promotion winning team at the Ricoh from in the 2017/18 season.
Davies is a bit smaller than your average centre half standing at 5ft 11, but this doesn’t appear to hinder the former Portsmouth man. After a match against Wycombe last term the 27-year-old was praised for his immense efforts at prevent Wycombe front man Adebayo Akinfenwa. As many Argyle fans will remember, the “Beast” has caused Argyle numerous problems in the past. Davies had no such issues
Another skill which has been highlighted by fans of the Sky Blues is his “Pirlo-esque” passing. This allows him to accurately pick out attackers in space and allows his team to play out from the back. This is an important feature for a centre back in Lowe’s team as last season saw his team try to play out from the back frequently. This therefore makes Davies a very good option to be considered for implementation into this year’s team.
With Davies only starting 41% of league games last year there is a possibility that the centre half could be tempted by a move down south. However, we do expect that there will be some interest from teams in League One.
Club: Milton Keynes
Frenchman Mathieu Baudry may not have had the finest season with Milton Keynes, playing a very limited part in their promotion to League One, but that wouldn’t prevent him being a fine signing for the Greens this summer. He’s been there, done it and got the t-shirt at this level before. His impressive form at Troyes in his native country earned him a move to England, initially with AFC Bournemouth.
After a short spell there, he moved onto Leyton Orient where he became popular with their fans and gained the captaincy after two seasons. He was let go at the end of the 2015/16 campaign but it was Orient’s loss as he joined Doncaster Rovers. Rovers went on to the win promotion the following season and Baudry was a regular player. Having had a good deal of experience to offer, he’s still not over the hill at 31 and would be an encouraging signing should Argyle seek to secure his services.
Club: Bradford City
Had Derek Adams remained at Plymouth Argyle, Ryan McGowan would look like an incredibly likely signing. Indeed, the Australian has had spells at five clubs north of the border and spent the end of last season on loan at Dundee. Whether he is the sort of player who would be considered by Ryan Lowe remains to be seen.
It’s fair to say McGowan didn’t have the finest time of it in 2018/19. In fact, he suffered the ignominy of having two relegations on his record in a single season. McGowan, who has 20 caps for his country, made 26 appearances with doomed League One side Bradford, before a move to Dundee saw his new team pick up just eight points in 15 games when he was in the side. It was certainly a campaign to forget.
That being said, McGowan has had success in the past. His best days came at Hearts, where he scored his side’s fourth goal in their 5-1 demolition of arch-rivals Hearts in the Scottish Cup final at Hampden. At 29, he still has a number of years ahead of him at centre back – he simply seems to have lost his way in recent years. A classic Adams signing, indeed. A Ryan Lowe-type signing? We’ll have to wait and see.
Club: Blackburn Rovers
Paul Downing would be a superb signing for Argyle. He was practically an ever-present for Doncaster after signing on loan at the Keepmoat Stadium at the end of January for the rest of the season. Rovers did, of course, make the play-offs, and Downing played both games against Charlton in full as his side so nearly made it to Wembley.
He has since been released by parent club Blackburn, and one would expect a queue of potential suitors across League One, Doncaster included. It would be a huge shock if he were to come down to League Two for 2018/19, but stranger things have happened. It’s also worth noting that Downing was born in Taunton, so would be no stranger to the Westcountry.
Argyle ought to be interested in the player this summer, but his signature may be well out of their reach.