With their contracts winding down these players would represent some shrewd business in a hugely inflated European transfer market.
It is that time of the year once again as another season is drawing to a close. This season too has had its fair share of hits and misses and stalled contract negotiations. While some players signed extensions with their employers and a few others switched to other clubs in January, contract talks for a number of players have not been resolved. For what it is worth, it looks very likely that some of these players would be moving on a free in the summer.
Khel Now takes a look at 10 players who will most probably be free agents in the upcoming transfer window.
10. Stefan de Vrij- Lazio
Liverpool are front-runners to sign another Dutch regular in their defence
The 26-year-old Dutch international has been an important member for Lazio since joining the club in 2014. The centre-back has been instrumental for the Rome-based club’s push for Champions League football scoring six goals in 32 appearances for the club this term.
The defender though has shirked away from putting pen to paper on a new deal that would keep him at the club beyond his current deal which lapses in June 2018. Lazio bosses have only recently cooled their desire in the player announcing he would be leaving the club in the summer.
De Vrij has drawn interest from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool, but it is reported that Serie A rivals Inter Milan are strong favourites to land the defender.
9. Santi Cazorla- Arsenal
Since joining from Malaga in the summer of 2012, Santi Cazorla has established himself as a fan-favourite at the Emirates. One of the most technically gifted players at Arsenal in recent times, the little Spaniard has been a joy to watch when in full flow. The midfielder’s performances in his debut season won him the Arsenal Player of the Season award.
However, Cazorla has had rotten luck with injuries and has been out of action since sustaining an Achilles tendon injury in 0ctober 2016. He has had to undergo eight surgeries on his tendon since then and at one point his condition deteriorated so much that doctors had to explore the possibility of amputating his affected leg.
The 33-year-old has started running only recently and should be fit by the start of next season. However, with his contract running out in the summer and a new manager coming in, it remains to be seen if the Spaniard will remain an Arsenal player.
8. Giorgio Chiellini- Juventus
Ingrained with all the attributes that has made Italian defenders the masters of their art, Giorgio Chiellini is still going strong at 33 and is still one of the best centre-backs in the world.
Ever since joining Juventus in 2005 he has been integral to their defence making over 350 appearances in Serie A. He was a member of the highly successful defensive trident along with countryman Andrea Barzagli and Leonardo Bonucci nicknamed the BBC.
It is assumed that the Italian would be extending his stay with the Old Lady after his contract expires in the summer. But, Chelsea boss Antonio Conte remains a long-time admirer of Chiellini whom he managed previously at Juventus and the Italian national team. Should the defender be available in the summer, Conte would love to bring him to London.
7. Yaya Toure- Manchester City
The Ivorian has been an instrumental figure in Manchester City’s rise to fame
The powerful midfielder joined Manchester City in the summer of 2010 and became one of the pioneers of the revolution at the then newly cash-rich blue side of Manchester. The Ivorian was a focal point as City established themselves as a domestic force in England.
But, age has caught up with the soon to be 35=year-old Toure who is not the same presence in midfield that he once used to be. He has struggled for game time this season, having managed just 142 minutes in City’s spectacular record-breaking season.
It is understandable that the Ivorian doesn’t feature in manager Pep Guardiola’s project and would be moving on at the end of his contract in the summer.
6. Jack Wilshere- Arsenal
The 26-year-old has been the best player to have come up through the ranks at Arsenal in recent times and has been at his boyhood club ever since making his debut as a 16-year-old.
However, his record with injuries and inconsistent performances has meant he is yet to become the player he was once tipped to be. The England midfielder was allowed to leave the previous summer, but it couldn’t happen due to lack of suitable offers.
This season though, Wilshere has had some good performances under his belt and has managed to stay injury-free prompting Arsenal to offer him a new contract. The deal tabled includes a lower basic wage, but is highly incentivised based on appearances keeping in mind the midfielder’s history with injuries.
However, Wilshere, it appears, has refused to take a pay-cut and contract talks have stretched over the course of the season with no end product. With his current deal ending in the summer, AC Milan, Everton and newly-promoted Wolverhampton Wanderers are reported to have made enquiries.
5. Luke Shaw- Manchester United
Touted to become the best left-back in the world, Manchester United splashed the cash on 18-year-old Luke Shaw in June 2014 making him the then most expensive teenager in football history.
However his career at Old Trafford has been ravaged by injuries and his performances have also not exuded confidence, publicly earning the ire of manager Jose Mourinho.
It is quite clear that the defender is not part of Mourinho’s plans and would be on his way out once his contract ends in the summer. However, with age on his side, there would definitely be no lack of interest in his services.
4. Marouane Fellaini- Manchester United
The burly 30-year-old hasn’t always been a regular starter for Manchester United since joining from Everton on Deadline Day in 2013.
12 months ago the club were reluctant to offer the Belgian a new contract. But, with captain Michael Carrick retiring at the end of the season the club are keen to keep hold of another of their midfield options and hence have tabled a new deal for Fellaini
The defensive midfielder has attracted interest from abroad including the cash-rich Chinese league. Only time will tell whether the Belgian will remain a player at Old Trafford next season.
3. Emre Can- Liverpool
Can has been an integral part of Liverpool in recent years
The 24-year-old is set to leave Anfield in the summer after running down his contract at the club. Juventus were prepared to pay the reported £30million fee to bring the player to Turin last summer, but Liverpool refused to sell and talks over a new have stalled deal since then.
The German midfielder signed for the Reds in the summer of 2014 and has made a name for himself with his strong all-round game. His good performances had earned him a Germany call-up and he has been capped 20 times since.
Juventus are almost certain to get their player in the summer after a long pursuit and an announcement seems imminent.
2. Mario Balotelli (OGC Nice)
Controversy’s favourite child yet immensely talented, Mario Balotelli is most likely to be a free agent at the end of the season. Putting the forgettable spells at Liverpool and AC Milan behind him, the Italian has somewhat resurrected his career at OGC Nice scoring 40 goals in 63 appearances for the Ligue 1 side.
The striker has revealed that this is possibly his last season in France and has no intention of extending his stay. Aged only 27, he will have no dearth of suitors in the summer and it is speculated that a number of clubs in his native Italy are closely monitoring him.
1. Max Meyer (Schalke)
Meyer is one of the hottest prospects in world football right now
FC Schalke 04 are set to lose out on another of their own as Max Meyer looks for a move away from the Veltins Arena as his contract wind down in the summer.
At just 22, the German international is rated as one of the best deep-lying playmakers in the Bundesliga. Played as an attacking midfielder for most of his career, he has found his home as more of a midfield anchor in his best season with the club.
However, his relationship with the board has soured considerably to the point of no return over the matter of his contract negotiations. Arsenal and Liverpool are reported to be very keen to add the German midfielder to their roster.