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20 big stars out of contract next summer

Kylian Mbappe, PSG
(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: this 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: Norwich City
Transfermarkt value: £19.8m

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. He stayed for another season, however, helping Daniel Farke's side back to the promised land. 

The rumours have refused to go away, and clubs are certain to be on high alert as Cantwell's contract runs down over the coming months. He has, thus far, refused to enter negotiations with the Norwich board and looks destined to move next summer.

2. Andreas Christensen

Andreas Christensen

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 25
Club: Chelsea
Transfermarkt value: £27m

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 over the next 18 months - 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: £45m

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 to just 81 league appearances in four years. 

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. It doesn't look like Dembele will renew terms at Camp Nou either, with the club looking to reduce spending. 

4. Angel Di Maria

Angel Di Maria

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 33
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Transfermarkt value: £18m

Angel Di Maria's swift exit from Manchester United turned out to be a huge success. The Argentinian turns 34 on Valentines Day 2022, 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: 27
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 would be far easier to meet if there wasn't a transfer fee involved, however. The world's superclubs will be keeping an eye on how this particular saga pans out. 

Dybala is one of the world's best forwards, having scored more than 100 goals in little over 250 appearances for the Old Lady, and there wouldn't be a shortage of suitors. But, with Antun having met with Juventus bigwigs in August, there may yet be time for the Italian giants to tie him down to new terms. 

6. Ansu Fati

Euro 2020

(Image credit: PA Images)

Age: 18
Club: Barcelona
Transfermarkt value: £54m

Barcelona recently offered Ansu Fati the fated no.10 shirt, following the departure of its last holder. But the 18-year-old has yet to give anything close to the commitment that Lionel Messi gave the club.

Fati's time at Barca is officially up as of next summer, with the electric young winger having suffered terrible injury issues in recent months. It seems certain that Barcelona will want to keep the starlet - but whether or not they can afford Fati remains another issue entirely. 

7. Leon Goretzka

Leon Goretzka

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 26
Club: Bayern Munich
Transfermarkt value: £63m

Since joining Bayern Munich on a free transfer from Schalke in 2018, Goretzka has morphed from skinny waif into full on beast. His muscular presence and bursting box to box runs have been a key reason behind Bayern's success at home and in Europe over the past couple of seasons. 

Yet rumours abound that the Germany star wants a change of scenery, having grown tired of bullying Bundesliga midfields every week. His age, athleticism and winning mentality would be an asset to any of Europe's top clubs and you can expect a tug-of-war for his services come January if he still hasn't signed a new deal. Both Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel would love to bring the 26-year-old to the Premier League. 

8. Lorenzo Insigne

Lorenzo Insigne

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 30
Club: Napoli
Transfermarkt value: £43m

Star of Euro 2020 and a mainstay in Serie A, Lorenzo Insigne probably has one last big deal left in his locker. 

The pocket rocket has remained in southern Italy despite consistent links away, similarly to Kalidou Koulibaly and Dries Mertens. An extension to stay would be wholly unsurprisingly - still, there might be interest in his services from other sides. 

9. Franck Kessie

kessie

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 24
Club: AC Milan
Transfermarkt value: £49.5m

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.

10. Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 30
Club: Arsenal
Transfermarkt value: £25.2m

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 definite that he'll leave a free agent next year. 

11. Kylian Mbappe

Kylian Mbappe

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 22
Club: Paris Saint-Germain
Transfermarkt value: £144m

Of all the will-he-won't-he sagas on this list, Mbappe's situation is 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 transfer deadline day. Mbappe's heart appears to be set on Spain, though, and it appears highly likely there'll be a new megastar striker at the Bernabeu next season.

12. Andre Onana

Andre Onana

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 25
Club: Ajax
Transfermarkt value: £27m

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 has 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 season could either put him in good stead for a new deal of a lucrative offer elsewhere, though. 

13. Pedri

Pedri

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 18
Club: Barcelona
Transfermarkt value: £72m

Oh, Barcelona. Why do you do these things?

With Messi out of the way, arguably Barca's two most exciting stars Pedri and Fati are still yet to agree new contracts with the club - who dished out deals to Aguero, Depay and Eric Garcia over the summer. None of these new signings could be registered until Gerard Pique took a voluntary pay cut either - and it seems unlikely he'll fund these two teens staying on another year. 

Barca have at least shifted Griezmann for now, will play a waiting game with Coutinho and as mentioned, look like cutting ties with Dembele. Pedri's uncertain future will be a huge worry for fans though - especially after what happened this summer. 

14. Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 28
Club: Manchester United
Transfermarkt value: £54m

Just when everything seems to be going right. Paul Pogba has had his critics during his time at Manchester United, but finally appears to be showing his talent on a consistent basis. The Frenchman is flourishing as a wide playmaker in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's 4-2-3-1 system, playing the kind of passes few others can see. 

He may not be doing it for much longer, however, with his contract now in its final year at Old Trafford. 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. But there is also a hope that he will sign a new deal before January.

15. James Rodriguez

Everton midfielder James Rodriguez

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 30
Club: Everton
Transfermarkt value: £25.2m

The Colombian looked to be a stunning coup for Everton at the start of last season, as he scored three goals and provided three assists in the opening five league games for Carlo Ancelotti's side. 

Performances dropped as the season progressed, however, and Rodriguez is reportedly keen to leave Merseyside. There were no takers in the summer window - the 30-year-old is on massive wages at Goodison Park -  but he will surely attract a number of clubs come January, when there is just six months left on his contract.

16. Antonio Rudiger

Antonio Rudiger

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 28
Club: Chelsea
Transfermarkt value: £25.2m

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 and fans will be hoping he can be tied down to new terms before January. Failure to do so could result in Chelsea losing a player in the form of his career, in his prime years as a defender. 

17. Luis Suarez

Luis Suarez

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 34
Club: Atletico Madrid
Transfermarkt value: £13.5m

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

The thought of the two dovetailing at the apex of Diego Simeone's 4-4-2 system is mouth-watering, but fans may only get to enjoy the sight for one season. 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 next summer, and may fancy a new challenge, in a less intense league.  

18. 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. 

19. James Tarkowski

James Tarkowski

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 28
Club: Burnley
Transfermarkt value: £22.5m

Leicester City and West Ham United have reportedly been interested in James Tarkowski, who has already entered the final 12 months of his contract.

For a player who's been touted with a £30m+ move away from Turf Moor, Burnley 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.

20. Corentin Tolisso

Corentin Tolisso

(Image credit: PA)

Age: 27
Club: Bayern Munich
Transfermarkt value: £18m

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 when he enters his final six months this January. 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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