16 big stars out of contract and available for FREE in the summer

20 big stars out of contract next summer
(Image credit: Getty)

When Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil were both running down their contracts at Arsenal, then-boss Arsene Wenger predicted that this would become the norm. 

“I think in the future, you will see it more and more. Why? Because the transfers are so high, even for normal players,” the Frenchman declared in 2017. “You will see more and more players going into the final year of the contract because no club will want to pay the amount demanded... in the next 10 years, it will become usual.”

It's hard to argue against the wise old sage of the Premier League: last summer alone, Hakan Calhanoglu, David Alaba, Memphis Depay, Sergio Aguero, Sergio Ramos, Gini Wijnaldum, Gianluigi Donnarumma and a certain Mr Lionel Messi have all moved clubs for nothing at all.  Next summer could see more of the same, too - with these players all available on a free transfer come 2022...

1. Todd Cantwell

Todd Cantwell

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 23
Club: Bournemouth (on loan from Norwich City)
Transfermarkt value: £18m

Norwich City's golden haired playmaker has been a constant feature of the footballing rumour mill for a couple of years now. The Englishman's impressive performances across the 19/20 Premier League season, in which the winger scored six goals for relegated Norwich, saw him linked with a number of top-flight clubs – and that's where everything halted to a stop.

Now at Bournemouth on loan, the 23-year-old is hoping to play himself back into form and could stay down south for next season if the Cherries get promoted, thanks to a contract clause. 

2. Andreas Christensen

Andreas Christensen

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 25
Club: Chelsea
Transfermarkt value: £31.5m

Andreas Christensen has come through Chelsea's youth system, gone on loan to Borussia Monchengladbach and established himself as a Stamford Bridge regular, first in the days of Maurizio Sarri and later with Frank Lampard and Thomas Tuchel. 

A four-year contract is reported to have been offered to the Dane but isn't yet a certainty. With Jules Kounde rumoured to have been targeted in the summer, the emergence of Trevoh Chalobah and Thiago Silva on a rolling deal, there could be lots of change in defence in west London - and Christensen isn't yet guaranteed to be there for the long-haul. 

3. Ousmane Dembele

Ousmane Dembele

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 24
Club: Barcelona
Transfermarkt value: £27m

It's not outrageous to suggest that Ousmane Dembele has been a colossal disappointment. The World Cup winner signed for well over £100m as Neymar's replacement in 2017 and was slapped with a €400m buyout clause - just in case PSG tried any of that nonsense again - but injuries have restricted his spell in Catalonia.

Now, Barca look like making a nine-figure loss on the boy they assumed would be a world-beater by now - there were those that thought he'd be on a level with Kylian Mbappe, after all. Dembele is free to leave at any point.

4. Angel Di Maria

Angel Di Maria

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 33
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Transfermarkt value: £13.5m

Angel Di Maria's swift exit from Manchester United turned out to be a huge success. The Argentinian turns 34 on Valentines Day, however, with PSG heavily stocked in both the forward and midfield departments - and ADM is no longer guaranteed minutes. 

Di Maria could no doubt still cut it at a reasonably big club in Europe but the time might be right to return back home to South America or pick up a lucrative deal on another continent. Regardless, he's offered Les Parisiens some of his best years at a good price. 

5. Paulo Dybala

Paulo Dybala

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 28
Club: Juventus
Transfermarkt value: £45m

Argentine forward Dybala has long been linked with a big money move to the Premier League, only for clubs to balk at the wage demands put forward by his agent, Jorge Antun. These demands are far easier to meet now there isn't a transfer fee involved.

Dybala is one of the world's best forwards, having scored more than 100 goals in over 250 appearances for the Old Lady, and there wouldn't be a shortage of suitors. Liverpool and Tottenham are interested. 

6. Lorenzo Insigne

Lorenzo Insigne

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 30
Club: Napoli
Transfermarkt value: £31.5m

Star of Euro 2020 and a mainstay in Serie A, Lorenzo Insigne still isn't quite over that hill yet. 

The pocket rocket has remained in southern Italy for his prime despite consistent links away, similarly to Kalidou Koulibaly and Dries Mertens. Now, a pre-contract agreement with Toronto brings the end of a beautiful romance – but they've had some good times. 

7. Franck Kessie


(Image credit: PA)

Age: 25
Club: AC Milan
Transfermarkt value: £43.2m

AC Milan are back in the Champions League and hopefully on the ascension once more - but losing Hakan Calhanoglu to rivals Inter for nothing really stung this summer.

The Rosonneri will be desperate not for Franck Kessie to do the same. The midfielder has claimed he wants to remain at the club "forever" but terms have yet to be agreed thus far, with Tottenham and Liverpool circling. 

8. Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 30
Club: Arsenal
Transfermarkt value: £18m

Slow, inconsistent and on a high wage, it's no surprise that Arsenal are keen to shift Alexandre Lacazette out of the club - especially with the likes of Gabriel Martinelli and Flo Balogun in the wings, ready to develop. 

The Gunners' interest in Tammy Abraham over the summer pivoted on their ability to shift Lacazette. Arsenal haven't finished in the top four with the Frenchman in tow and with Laca said to be keen on winding down his deal and assessing his options later, it seems likely that he'll leave a free agent next year – unless he's willing to except a smaller deal. 

9. Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 23
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Transfermarkt value: £144m

Of all the will-he-won't-he sagas on this list, Mbappe's situation is one of the least mysterious. The Frenchman appears certain to leave after making no secret of his desire to swap PSG for Real Madrid next summer. 

The French giants are refusing to give up on the jewel in their crown, however, going so far as to reject a €200m offer from Los Blancos on summer deadline day and still offering new terms. Mbappe's heart appears to be set on Spain, though, and a meeting between Los Blancos and PSG in the Champions League will be intriguing this month.

10. Andre Onana

Andre Onana

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 25
Club: Ajax
Transfermarkt value: £13.5m

There was reported interest in Andre Onana over the summer, with the Ajax keeper apparently available for as little as £10m. With no one grabbing the nettle, however, it looks like he'll cost even less next year. 

The Cameroon international had a difficult 2021, after being banned from playing for 12 months by UEFA in February, following a positive test for Furosemide (later reduced to nine months). A strong second half of the season could put him in good stead for a new deal or a lucrative offer elsewhere, though. 

11. Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 28
Club: Manchester United
Transfermarkt value: £49.5m

Paul Pogba has had his critics during his time at Manchester United but finally appears to be showing his talent on a consistent basis at the start of the season, flourishing as a wide playmaker in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's 4-2-3-1 system, playing the kind of passes few others can see. And then came the collapse, the injuries and more uncertainty.

Pogba's agent, Mino Raiola, has made no secret of his client's desire to leave Manchester, with PSG, Real Madrid and former club Juventus all linked in recent seasons. It looks like it could all be over for this pair again – but it'll be fascinating to see where he goes. 

12. Antonio Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 28
Club: Chelsea
Transfermarkt value: £31.5m

Once marginalised under Frank Lampard, Rudiger is a defender reinvigorated under current Blues gaffer Thomas Tuchel. The German was always quick, strong and a good reader of the game, but he's now discovered a new level of concentration previously lacking. 

The 28-year-old has become a key man in Chelsea's backline but fans have lost hope that he can be tied down to new terms. Failure to do so will result in Chelsea losing a player in the form of his career, in his prime years as a defender – but their loss is the considerable gain of another side…

13. Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 34
Club: Atletico Madrid
Transfermarkt value: £9m

The return of Antoine Griezmann from Barcelona meant Atletico have their old talisman back, just as Luis Suarez - who excelled in his first year at the Wanda Metropolitano - entered his final 12 months in the Spanish capital. 

As brilliant as Suarez has been for Atleti - he was among La Liga's top scorers with 21 goals from 32 games last term - he isn't getting any younger. The Uruguayan will be 35 this summer, and may fancy a new challenge – Aston Villa have been linked…

14. Niklas Sule

Niklas Sule

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 26
Club: Bayern Munich
Transfermarkt value: £31.5m

The meaty Bayern defender has had his injury problems over the last couple of seasons, not least his ACL rupture at the start of the 19/20 campaign which left him sidelined for six months. He is starting to regain his fitness after a string of smaller issues since then, but is yet to agree a new deal in Bavaria. 

With Bayern famously good at getting their business done in a timely fashion, Sule's situation does look perilous. The Germany international could prove an absolute steal for another top club with a little patience when it comes to fitness issues. 

15. James Tarkowski

James Tarkowski

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 29
Club: Burnley
Transfermarkt value: £19.8m

Leicester City and West Ham United have reportedly been interested in James Tarkowski. It looks like he will go now – especially with Burnley fighting relegation.

For a player who's been touted with a £30m+ move away from Turf Moor, the Clarets are in a difficult position now. Either they offer Tarky a contract to reflect that status or lose him for considerably less than they've been previously offered. Premier League sides are no doubt on standby.

16. Corentin Tolisso

Corentin Tolisso

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 27
Club: Bayern Munich
Transfermarkt value: £13.5m

The simple truth is, Tolisso, for all his promise, has never really felt like a Bayern player. Yes, he's tidy on the ball and positionally intelligent, but he just seems to lack that ruthless mentality the likes of Joshua Kimmich and Goretzka have in spades. 

He'll almost certainly move on, and he won't have a shortage of options. A Premier League club with deep pockets could do a lot worse than snapping up a midfielder with a World Cup, Champions League and four Bundesliga titles to his name. 

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Mark White
Staff Writer

Mark White has been a staff writer on FourFourTwo since joining in January 2020, writing pieces for both online and the magazine. An encyclopedia of football shirts and boots knowledge – both past and present – Mark has also been to the FA Cup and League Cup finals for FFT and has written pieces for the mag ranging on subjects from Bobby Robson's season at Barcelona to Robinho's career. He once saw Tyrone Mings at a petrol station in Bournemouth but felt far too short to ask for a photo. 

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