12 Premier League players who need to leave their clubs this summer
1. Chris Smalling (Manchester United)
The dearth of English centre-backs means there’s still little danger around Smalling’s place in Gareth Southgate’s squad. However, after a poor season, it’s time to re-establish himself with a team that can guarantee he'll play football every week. That’s not going to happen at Manchester United.
The arrival of Victor Lindelof has pushed Smalling even further down the pecking order in a team that already offers limited opportunities for a player in his position. Foot and knee injuries hindered the 27-year-old in 2016/17, which meant he failed to emulate his stellar form of the previous campaign.
Smalling’s exit from Old Trafford is essential to his search for consistent minutes. If he can use that time to eradicate the clumsy mistakes that have littered recent performances, England may be able to go into next year’s World Cup with more confidence in their backline. There would be no shortage of takers.
2. Kevin Wimmer (Tottenham)
Wimmer struggled to make an impact last year after a promising debut season in the Premier League. Spurs fans quickly warmed to the big centre-back when he ably deputised for Jan Vertonghen in 2015/16 and even saw the Belgian’s long-term place in doubt, such was Wimmer’s form.
However, the 24-year-old made just five league appearances last season, and was hooked at half-time against Manchester City after a disastrous performance. A lack of mobility and frequent mistakes have lost Wimmer the trust of Mauricio Pochettino, and the Tottenham manager has previously shown there’s no way back once that happens.
Yet the Austria international has potential. If Daniel Levy will yield to a somewhat affordable price (good luck with that), Wimmer would be an excellent signing for a mid-table club.
3. Kieran Gibbs (Arsenal)
Like Smalling, full-back Gibbs is another Englishman who’s hit a wall after showing fantastic early potential. For a long while it looked like Gibbs would be the long-term successor to Ashley Cole after breaking into Arsenal’s team as a teenager. It’s jarring to notice that Gibbs is now 27, because he's progressed so little since.
Injuries dimmed the promising start to his senior career, before the arrival of Nacho Monreal in 2013 blocked his route back into the starting XI. Spaniard Monreal’s increasingly steady form led to declining opportunities for Gibbs, who made just 11 appearances in the Premier League last season. He’s now further from the England team than ever, and desperately needs a new club that will give him the game time required to build consistent form.
4. Fabian Delph (Manchester City)
Defence aside, England’s other major worry ahead of Russia 2018 is central midfield. Few would be convinced that Fabian Delph is the answer. However, Manchester City brought him to the Etihad for a reason, and the situation is looking increasingly desperate for England after their midfield failings against France and Scotland.
It’s easy to forget how much Delph stood out in a torrid Aston Villa side before his move to Manchester. There’s no longer hope of any significant role at City, with Pep Guardiola’s side continuing to bring in expensive talent each year. Delph’s range of passing and discipline would be a welcome addition to most teams outside the top seven, though. Stoke are reportedly in talks and could provide the perfect environment for the 27-year-old to stand out once more. If this happens, there’s every chance he could add to his nine caps.