All for nothing
Bargain deals could be more important than ever for clubs in a post-COVID world.
The following 25 players have what it takes to perform at the top level, and will be available for free this summer. Let the bidding commence...
Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Mertens almost left Napoli for the Premier League in January - if rumours are to believed. Chelsea and Inter Milan were jostling at the front of the queue for the Belgian, but in recent weeks he appears to have taken a U-turn.
The 32-year-old now appears set to stay put in the southern Italian city after reports that he has agreed a new two-year deal, but nothing has been confirmed quite yet.
Edinson Cavani (PSG)
Forced to play second fiddle to Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the early years of his PSG career, Cavani eventually took centre stage in 2016. He responded in spectacular fashion, scoring 49 goals in 50 games followed by 40 in 47 the following campaign.
The Uruguayan was then shunted out of the limelight once more when Kylian Mbappe and Neymar arrived in the French capital in 2017. Now 33 and out of contract in June, Cavani looks set to seek pastures new ahead of the 2020/21 campaign.
Artem Dzyuba (Zenit)
The Russian’s boisterous displays leading the line for the hosts at the 2018 World Cup are still fresh in the memory, and may help him land his first move outside of his home country this summer.
Spurs and Inter are among the clubs who have been linked with the 31-year-old, who has an impressive 13 goals and 10 assists to his name in 21 league games this season for Zenit.
Ryan Fraser (Bournemouth)
Fraser was heavily linked with Arsenal in the summer, but no move came about and he began the campaign a Bournemouth player. The Cherries are reportedly keen to offer him a new deal in order to prevent him leaving for nothing at the end of the campaign, but Fraser’s admission that he is frustrated makes an exit more likely.
The winger scored seven goals and provided 14 assists in the Premier League last term, and will be an attractive proposition to clubs higher up the division given he’s still only 25.
Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund)
It can take a few seconds for the mind to process the fact that Gotze is still just 28 years old. The German has had an eventful career since bursting onto the scene as a teenager, controversially swapping Borussia Dortmund for Bayern Munich in 2013, before returning to Signal Iduna Park three years later. And that’s not to mention scoring the winning goal in the World Cup final.
A metabolic illness threatened to derail the attacking midfielder’s career at one point, but he’s now healthy again and will be desperate to fulfil his early promise. If Dortmund decide against offering him fresh terms, a move to the Premier League or Spain could be an option.
Jeff Hendrick (Burnley)
The path from Burnley to Milan isn’t exactly well worn, but it could be the one that Ireland international Hendrick is taking this summer if reports are to be believed.
Hendrick is out of contract at the end of the season and is yet to agree new terms with the Clarets – will a call from San Siro be too much to resist?
Layvin Kurzawa (PSG)
Kurzawa has now been at PSG for more than four years, but he’s never nailed down a regular starting spot in that time. Injuries haven’t helped, but it’s hard to shake the feeling that the left-back has failed to live up to expectations at the Parc des Princes.
Currently playing second fiddle to Juan Bernat, Kurzawa will almost certainly depart PSG this summer. An excellent attacking full-back who’s still just 27, the Frenchman will attract plenty of interest from England and beyond.
Adam Lallana (Liverpool)
While Lallana has tasted great success under Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, he has often been on the outside looking in, and has only made three league starts this season.
The 32-year-old is now set to depart in search of more regular game time. A reunion with former boss Brendan Rodgers at Leicester is one possibility, but Arsenal, Spurs, West Ham and clubs in Italy and Spain have also been linked with a move for the midfielder.
David Luiz (Arsenal)
The big-haired Brazilian’s future remains up in the air. The 33-year-old only joined the Gunners last summer, but has been linked with a return to Benfica as his one-year deal nears an end.
However, there has been speculation of a two-year extension being agreed on reduced terms. The Premier League might not be saying goodbye to Sideshow Bob just yet.
John Lundstram (Sheffield United)
Lundstram has been key to the Blades’ superb return to the Premier League, missing just one game in his debut top-flight campaign.
Sheffield United are understandably eager to keep him at Bramall Lane, but Lundstram’s impressive form will have earned him admirers across the league.
Thomas Meunier (PSG)
Meunier gave an interview in which he professed his desire to sign a new contract at PSG, but negotiations have yet to start – which suggests the French giants have a different view.
An attack-minded right-back who loves to get forward at every opportunity – he has also played as a wing-back and even further forward – Meunier would improve a number of Premier League squads. Liverpool, Manchester United and Arsenal have been linked in the past, and could join the race for the Belgian’s signature in the summer.
Pedro Rodriguez (Chelsea)
Should Pedro leave Chelsea shortly before his 33rd birthday this summer, a return to Spain would be the most logical next step. The forward’s experience – he’s won six league titles, three Champions Leagues, a Europa League and four domestic cups across his time with Barcelona and the Blues – would make him a fine asset for most teams in La Liga.
Pedro has already said that he will be leaving London and while he may no longer be capable of starting week in, week out at the highest level, but the Spain international is exactly the type of player every manager would love to have in his ranks.
Jose Callejon (Napoli)
Callejon left Real Madrid in 2013 in search of more game time, and his wish has certainly been granted at Napoli: in his six full seasons at the club, the Spaniard missed only six Serie A encounters.
His time at the Stadio San Paolo could be nearing the end, however, with Callejon out of contract this summer. Now 33, he’s still a key cog in the Napoli machine but may nevertheless seek pastures new in 2020.
Giacomo Bonaventura (AC Milan)
Bonaventura returned from a lengthy injury lay-off this season, but has struggled to nail down a regular place in the Milan midfield and looks set for pastures new in the summer.
Roma are favourites for his signature, but Torino and Atalanta have also been linked. The Italy international is still just 30 and is blessed with enormous talent – whoever convinces him could be landing one of the deals of the window.
Malang Sarr (Nice)
Sarr is likely to be one of the most sought-after free agents on the market this summer. At the age of 21, the centre-back already has more than a century of Ligue 1 appearances to his name, as well as six France Under-21 caps.
Newcastle, Eintracht Frankfurt and Lazio are among the clubs across Europe that are said to be considering a swoop for Sarr, who has no intention of penning a new deal in the south of France.
David Silva (Manchester City)
Silva’s impact at the Etihad has been so spectacular that a book, ‘El Mago – A Decade of Magic’, has been written all about it ahead of his imminent departure.
One of the club’s greatest players of all time, Silva is now 34 years old and ready for a new challenge – which could be a return to Valencia.
Cedric Soares (Southampton)
Soares’ career has stalled somewhat in recent years, with the Portugal international failing to impress on loan at Inter and then suffering an injury before he could play his first game as an Arsenal loanee in February.
The right-back boasts great experience at club and international level and is a proven Premier League operator, but whether that will be enough to convince the Gunners to offer him a permanent contract at the end of the season remains to be seen.
Benjamin Stambouli (Schalke 04)
The former Spurs and PSG defender is set to end his four-year spell with Schalke after his season was ruined by an injury that has sidelined the 29-year-old since October.
Reports suggest that the Bundesliga side aren’t interested in offering the Frenchman a new deal, making him one of the most experienced free agents on the market, having enjoyed spells in three of Europe’s top five leagues.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
Vertonghen has played a huge part in Tottenham’s growth since his arrival in 2012, but his lengthy spell in north London looks set to end this summer.
The 33-year-old is understood to be weighing up his options, which may include a move to Serie A. No matter where he ends up, the Belgian will be a bargain and is far from finished – he’s featured in 19 Premier League games this season.
It’s hard to imagine Willian pulling on the colours of another Premier League club given his lengthy association with Chelsea, but the same could have been said for David Luiz – one of the winger’s best friends in football – before he joined Arsenal last summer.
Willian has made it clear that he would love to stay at Stamford Bridge, but that decision might be taken out of his hands – particularly as Frank Lampard continues to promote young players. Perhaps a reunion with Luiz in north London isn’t entirely out of the question.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)
The Swede’s return to Milan in January was going very smoothly before football ground to a halt. With four goals in 10 games, the 38-year-old continued to prove that age is just a state of mind.
But an extension with the Serie A giants is yet to be agreed, and rumours of a return home have become louder since he started training with Swedish side Hammarby while competitive football was on ice.
Thiago Silva (PSG)
Silva has proven himself as one of European football’s finest centre-backs over the last decade or so, but at the age of 35, his future at PSG is now in doubt.
The Brazil international is still a regular in Paris, making 21 Ligue 1 appearances this season, and his wife recently said he would like to stay in the French capital. But with no new contract on the horizon, we may yet see him grace the Premier League, as rumours of a move to Everton won’t go away.
Lucas Biglia (AC Milan)
Biglia has an impressive CV to send to potential employers, containing four Belgian titles with Anderlecht, 160 Serie A appearances for Lazio and Milan, and 58 Argentina caps that included a run to the World Cup final in 2014.
At the age of 34, the playmaker is in the twilight of his career but could offer valuable experience to clubs across Europe if he opts against returning to Argentina.
Tanguy Kouassi (PSG)
Kouassi is not a household name… yet. But the 17-year-old defender could be one of the bargains of the free agent market this summer, as his deal in Paris comes to an end.
Despite his tender years, the centre-back already has six Ligue 1 appearances and, remarkably, two goals to his name this season. Although he’s been offered a deal by PSG, Kouassi is also considering options in Germany and Italy.
Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool)
Previously in competition with Kyle Walker for England’s right-back spot, Clyne has become the forgotten man for both club and country. The former Southampton man has played just seven Premier League games for Liverpool since 2016/17, with injury problems and the emergence of Trent Alexander-Arnold pushing him closer to the Anfield exit.
Clyne recently turned 29, and as long as he can prove his fitness, the defender still has plenty to offer mid-table Premier League clubs - especially if they can sign him for the last nine games of the season.
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