Players on the move
The end of the 2017-18 campaign is on the horizon, and attention will soon turn towards the summer transfer window. Some wantaway players may have already spoken to their agents about a potential move elsewhere, especially as the World Cup in Russia will reduce negotiation time in June and July.
In this slideshow, we pick out 11 Premier League stars who are unlikely to be at their current clubs at the start of next season.
Jonny Evans (West Brom)
Evans is coveted by some big names at the top of the Premier League and, given how far that interest has been taken, it’s strange that he’s still at The Hawthorns.
However, if ever a season has convinced a player his future should lie elsewhere, it’s surely this one. From a personal perspective, Evans must know he’s still capable of playing at a higher level (and for greater reward).
More broadly, why would the 30-year-old spend the good years he has left at what increasingly seems like a dysfunctional club? He's a free agent in 2019, but there’s little chance of Evans sticking around at West Brom beyond this season.
Eden Hazard (Chelsea)
Hazard is now in his prime at 27, meaning he faces the threat of spending his best years at a club who are unlikely to challenge for the Champions League – indeed, will probably not even be in it at all next season – and appear unwilling to award him the kind of wage that players of his standing can now expect to command.
Added to this is the tempestuous atmosphere which has descended upon Stamford Bridge and the uncertainty created by Antonio Conte’s increasingly fractious relationship with his employers.
The fact that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are now in their thirties may be playing on the Belgian’s mind too. The duo’s inevitable abdication will allow other players to compete for the Ballon d’Or, a prize which has only gone to players at an English club twice since the 1960s; Hazard may figure he needs to leave Chelsea this summer or that prize will forever elude him.
Manuel Lanzini (West Ham)
Gifted and creative, Lanzini is the type of attacking midfielder who would fit in well at a top-six club. Consider, for instance, what he might bring to a Liverpool side who could benefit from partially filling the gap left by Philippe Coutinho.
Further down the table, it’s certainly conceivable that Everton or Leicester might take a punt, and both options would likely appeal to a player who has probably grown disillusioned with the way his current club is being run.
Riyad Mahrez (Leicester)
He should have gone about it in a different way, but Mahrez would have deserved his move to Manchester City in January. Whether it would have been in his best interests is another matter, but the Algerian has done enough to warrant a permanent home at a top-six Premier League side.
He’ll go at the end of the season and, although Pep Guardiola would seem to be in pole position to sign him, expect a long queue for his services. Perhaps Arsenal or Tottenham would be a better fit, but Mahrez won’t be at Leicester in 2018-19.
Anthony Martial (Manchester United)
Marcus Rashford is generally assumed to have suffered most from Alexis Sanchez’s arrival at Manchester United, but Martial is at least an equal victim. Of his 29 Premier League appearances at the time of writing, he's only completed the 90 minutes three times – a situation which isn’t exactly conducive to his long-term development.
It’s not a situation befitting his standing in the game, either. Trapped between the marquee signing and the exciting local kid, Martial – himself only just 22 – is one of the most promising players in Europe and any time spent away from either his best position or the starting line-up is a waste. There have already been links with Juventus and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him move on this summer.
Alfie Mawson (Swansea)
Mawson’s secret was out long before Gareth Southgate called him into the England squad: he’s an excellent defender who’s hitherto been disregarded because he plays for a lesser club.
Swansea now look likely to avoid relegation this season, but the club’s owners like a profit and are short on rebuilding funds for next season. Given the kind of fee Mawson could command, it seems probable that he’ll be finding a new home over the summer.
Whether the ex-Barnsley man would truly belong at a top-six side is debatable. He’s more of an old-school centre-half than an ultra-modern ball-player, but he’d certainly be an asset to the sort of upper mid-table club with designs on being the best of the rest.
Simon Mignolet (Liverpool)
Time has finally run out for Mignolet at Anfield, with Loris Karius clearly now Jurgen Klopp’s first choice between the posts – pending various potential big signings in summer. The Belgian isn’t a bad goalkeeper, though, and he’d be a perfectly serviceable option for a club further down the table or a European side looking for experience.
Liverpool’s owners will presumably be keen to get Mignolet off the wage bill, so there’s unlikely to be a big quibble over a fee. With the Belgian still just 30, plenty of teams could do worse – and already are.
Despite Watford’s slump, Richarlison remains one of the signings of the Premier League season. His talent has never been in doubt and he now has the evidence to prove he can perform in the top flight, so the Hornets will do very well to retain his services for a second season.
Although Marco Silva’s sacking was probably for the greater good, that decision’s legacy might shape Richarlison’s future. The forward was clearly disappointed by Silva’s departure, and Javi Gracia’s record to date doesn’t suggest Watford are on to anything better with him at the helm.
Danny Rose (Tottenham) and Luke Shaw (Man United)
A slightly reductive assumption, perhaps, but it does seem as if the two left-backs’ futures are intertwined. Relations between Shaw and Jose Mourinho appeared to thaw earlier in the year, but the defender has been cast back to the periphery and publicly shamed by his manager again.
Further south, Rose and Mauricio Pochettino appear to have mended their relationship and the bridges burned in the summer have evidently been rebuilt. However, the full-back is far from the player he was last season and appears to have lost a yard of acceleration. One suspects that any attempt by Manchester United to sign him, with Shaw as a possible makeweight, would now be welcomed by Tottenham.
Jack Wilshere (Arsenal)
A free agent in the summer, Wilshere is already the subject of interest from Everton and would probably intrigue several European clubs as well.
The 2017-18 season has been a qualified success for the midfielder, who’s largely stayed fit since his return to the Arsenal first team. Whether that’s enough to earn a new deal at the Emirates remains to be seen, and there’s also a chance that Wilshere could turn down fresh terms in favour of a change of scenery.
The England international may not be a complete enough player to exist at the very top of the game, but he needs to play regularly and a move to a slightly less competitive squad might be in his best interests.
Premier League, Lists, Eden Hazard, Simon Mignolet, Jack Wilshere, Anthony Martial, Jonny Evans, Riyad Mahrez, Richarlison, Danny Rose, Luke Shaw, Manuel Lanzini, Alfie Mawson, Swansea City, West Ham United, Southampton, Manchester United, Watford, Leicester City, West Bromwich Albion, Arsenal, Chelsea