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Lacazette, Pogba, Rudiger and the stars who will be out of contract in the summer

Some of the biggest stars in world football are available for free in the summer (Picture: Getty)

Some of Europe’s biggest stars could be set to leave their current clubs for free in the summer.

There is a growing trend of footballers running down their contracts and eventually departing for free, with agents touting them around to potential new clubs in a bid to get the biggest contract and signing on-fee package – something which would suit both the player and his representatives. 

While the buying club would not pay a fee for the player, the forever growing financial packages mean that a free agent often gets more money for a deal than someone who is transferring from club-to-club.

Any player out of contract in the summer is free to sign a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club from January 1 – they are not able to agree these deals with teams from the same domestic competition that they currently play in. 

With the January window just around the corner, Metro.co.uk takes a look at 10 of the best talents who could be available for free in the summer.

Alexandre Lacazette

Alexandre Lacazette’s future at the Emirates Stadium remains in doubt (Picture: Getty)

Alexandre Lacazette has made 142 appearances for Arsenal during his five years at the club so far, but has struggled for game time during the past year.

The French striker revealed last month that his representatives were already looking at potential new clubs for him ahead of the January window, with Atletico Madrid and AC Milan among the clubs reportedly interested in signing him.

‘Of course, my agents are starting to look to the right and to the left. But not until January, I really want to focus myself on something.’ he said in an interview with Telefoot.

‘And then we will see what is on offer, if the challenges are interesting, if there are beautiful projects, how they are counting on me… so there are still many questions, I prefer to wait until January to position myself.’

However, since the remarks of the 30-year-old’s agent, he has started the Gunners’ last four matches and has been captaining the side since the Spanish boss stripped former skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of the role for ‘disciplinary reasons’ earlier this month.

It remains unclear as to whether Arsenal want to keep Lacazette beyond this season, with Mikel Arteta previously stating that the club would wait until the end of the campaign to begin any discussions over new terms.

Paul Pogba

Real Madrid are keen on signing Paul Pogba in the summer (Picture: Getty)

It is looking increasingly likely that Pogba will leave Manchester United in the summer, with the France international remaining reluctant to put pen to paper on a new deal. 

The 28-year-old midfielder has played just nine times for United in the Premier League so far this term and is currently out out action with a thigh injury. 

Pogba, who currently earns a whopping £220,000-a-week at Old Trafford, has been linked with a move to French giants Paris-Saint Germain, while Real Madrid were interested before reportedly pulling out of the race because they do not see him fitting into their squad. 

United’s interim boss Ralf Rangnick is yet to meet Pogba face-to-face, with the former Juventus star spending time in Dubai to work on his fitness and recuperation.

When asked about the prospect of convincing Pogba to stay earlier this month, Rangnick said: ‘If a player doesn’t want to play for a club like Manchester United, even in the long term, I don’t think it makes sense to convince him to change his mind.’

While It is understood that Pogba is yet to make his final decision on whether to sign a new deal or not, United have reportedly already began their their search for a replacement and a list of candidates are being drawn up, with RB Leipzig midfielder Amadou Haidara among the players on that list. 

Thiago Silva

Thiago Silva has been a mainstay for Chelsea so far this season (Picture: Getty)

There were question marks raised when Chelsea signed the ageing Thiago Silva from PSG back in 2020, but the Brazil international has silenced his doubters with some exceptional performances during his first 18 months at the club. 

The 37-year-old has become one of Thomas Tuchel’s most dependable centre-backs among a plethora of options available to the German boss, including Antonio Rudiger, Trevoh Chalobah, Cesar Azpilicueta and Andreas Christensen.

Silva also played an integral role in helping the Blues lift just their second ever Champions League title last term, but was subbed off with a groin injury 39 minutes into the final against Manchester City. 

Speaking at the beginning of the season, Tuchel outlined exactly what Silva needed to do in order to earn himself a new contract at Stamford Bridge. 

‘When you play for Chelsea, you need to deliver and that is what he is doing. He is a top professional and if he wasn’t, it wouldn’t be performing at that level for many years,’ he said.

‘The age does not play a role. The only question we have to ask at the end of the season is this: Is he at the level that we need at Chelsea to compete in every competition? We have time for that, and we don’t have to answer that right now.’

Latest reports suggest that Chelsea believe Silva has done enough to be awarded a new one-year deal, with an agreement set to be reached in the coming weeks.

Antonio Rudiger

Manchester United and Real Madrid are keen on Antonio Rudiger (Picture: Getty)

While things look positive with regards to Silva’s Chelsea future, the same unfortunately cannot be said about Antonio Rudiger.

The German defender has been a stalwart at the back for Tuchel’s men so far this campaign, starting 19 of the club’s opening 20 Premier league matches, scoring two goals in the process. 

Chelsea want to pin down the 28-year-old to a new deal, however talks have hit a stumbling block with the west London club reluctant to meet the centre-back’s demands of a salary in excess of £200,000-a-week.

Premier League rivals Manchester United have reportedly registered their interest in Rudiger, but it’s Real Madrid who lead the race for his signature and already have an ‘informal agreement’ reached with the defender’s brother and agent Sahr Senesie following talks last month.

Speaking earlier this month, Tuchel admitted that ‘nobody is bigger than the club’, while calling for patience as he tries to resolve the former Roma star’s future. 

‘We absolutely accept and are fully aware of the importance of Toni and the role that he’s playing on and off the pitch,’ said Tuchel. ‘There is no doubt about that.

‘It’s true that nobody is bigger than the club and this is a team effort and a strong club. It’s not only about Toni and I mean that in the best way because we know what he’s doing and we’re fully aware of it.

‘In the end, we need a bit of patience.’

Jesse Lingard

Jesse Lingard wants to play more minutes (Picture: Getty)

After a successful second half of last season on loan at West Ham United, Lingard has struggled since his return to Old Trafford and has failed to start a single Premier League match for the Red Devils so far this term. 

Despite his lack of playing time, reports suggest that Lingard wants to stay at the club in January in order to give it one last shot at fighting for his place before his contract expires in the summer.

Talks over a new deal were shelved earlier this year and no further discussions have taken place since, with United unwilling to offer the England international the wage he is asking for given his limited role within the first-team squad. 

Newcastle were interested in signing Lingard, however they have reportedly backed out of the running because they feel that other areas of their squad need strengthening first. 

When new interim boss Ralf Rangnick came into the club earlier this month, he promised that all of the fringe players, including Lingard will be given a chance to impress in the dead rubber Champions League game against Young Boys on December 8.

‘Everyone has the chance to perform and present themselves,’ he said.

‘I’m happy to give game-time to quite a few of those players to see them under pressure in a Champions League game. This is a perfect opportunity to get to know the players.

‘We’ve only had a week so far but every match and training session is an opportunity to get to know the players better.’

Lingard started that game, but was subsequently named as an unused substitute in the Premier League match against Norwich.

The likelihood of a new deal being agreed now is rather slim, but if United suffer from injuries and Lingard is given a chance to impress – anything can happen. 

Franck Kessie

Could Franck Kessie soon be on his way to the Premier League? (Picture: Getty)

Kessie could soon be coming to the Premier League with his current club AC Milan still some way off agreeing a new deal for their star midfielder. 

Reports in Italy even suggest that Kessie’s wage demands are increasing with every meeting between his representatives and Milan, wanting an annual wage of around €9m (£7.6m), a figure much higher than the €6.5m (£5.5m) that the Italian giants are willing to offer.

The Ivory Coast international’s agent George Atangana has previously urged the Rossoneri to increase their offer if they stand any chance of keeping the player.

‘A footballer of Franck’s calibre does not need to be proposed to anyone. And in any case, I’ve never talked to Inter,’ Atangana told Calciomercato when asked about reported interest from AC Milan’s rivals Inter.

‘There was an official offer from the club [AC Milan] and a request from the agent, but we are talking about figures very far from what you are referring to. 

‘For an important player, you always need a contract worthy of it.’

However, with no fresh offer looking likely, it is now being reported that Kessie has informed the San Siro club of his desire to leave the club, with Tottenham Hotspur the frontrunners to sign him. 

It is understood that Antonio Conte has been promised funds to improve the squad, with the club willing to offer the 25-year-old midfielder a £160,000-a-week deal to come to north London.

Kylian Mbappe

PSG turned down a mammoth £189m for Kylian Mbappe from Real Madrid last summer (Picture: Getty)

One of the best young talents in the world looks set to be available for free in the summer after failing to agree new terms with his current club PSG as of yet.

Mbappe wanted to leave the French giants to join Real Madrid last summer, but the Parisians’ owners turned down an incredible £189m and instead are willing to risk the France international leaving on a free transfer in 2022.

The Spanish club are thought to have been the team Mbappe supported growing up and are expected to attempt to sign him again in January.

However, the 23-year-old has cast doubt over a move that looked to be a certainty, saying that he doesn’t currently know where his future lies beyond this season.

‘I don’t know. Today I have to take the time. It is not easy. Either way, I’ll be playing for a big club,’ Mbappe told Amazon Prime.

‘At first I was disappointed [not to leave]. But well, I am not in the third division, I am in a club that wants to win the Champions League.

‘I am Parisian, I have my family, I feel good, I have always said it. I just wanted to discover something else.’

One thing that is for certain is that he won’t be joining Tottenham, with Mbappe saying ‘no, impossible,’ when asked if he would join the north London club by Spiderman actor and Spurs fan Tom Holland.

Ousmane Dembele

Ousmane Dembele has failed to live up to his potential at Barcelona so far (Picture: Getty)

Dembele’s future remains uncertain with talks over a new deal ongoing between his representatives and current club Barcelona.

The France international joined Barca for a massive £135.5m from German giants Borussia Dortmund back in 2017, but his spell at the Catalan club has been blighted with injuries so far. 

Newcastle United, Liverpool and Manchester United have all been linked with a move for Dembele, with his agent Moussa Sissoko telling the player that he would likely earn more money if he left.

The 24-year-old has contributed 30 goals and 22 assists in 125 appearances for Barca and has become somewhat of a regular under new boss Xavi.

However, fresh reports suggest that Barca are unwilling to offer the salary Dembele wants, with the former Dortmund winger holding out for a whopping €43m (£36m) a year to extend his stay at the club.

It is now looking likely that Dembele will leave the club, while Barca could look to sell the player in January.

Denis Zakaria

A whole host of Premier League clubs are keeping tabs on Denis Zakaria (Picture: Getty)

Denis Zakaria is a combative central midfielder who has reportedly attracted interest from the likes of Arsenal, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur. 

Zakaria has received several offers to stay at his current club Borussia Monchengladbach, but has rejected every single one of them as his future seems destined to be elsewhere. 

On Wednesday, Monchengladbach confirmed that both Zakaria and his current teammate Matthias Ginter would be leaving the club when their contracts expire in the summer.

In a statement released on the club website, Monchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl said: ‘We know now who we can plan with for next season and who won’t be here.

‘We have clarity going into the second half of the season. This was important for us.’

United and Arsenal are both reportedly in the market for a central midfielder to bolster their options, with Zakaria seen by many as the perfect option due to his abilities both defensively and in the attacking third.

Niklas Sule

Niklas Sule reportedly doesn’t feel valued enough at Bayern Munich (Picture: Getty)

Sule wants out of German giants Bayern Munich as he doesn’t feel valued enough by the club’s management, according to Sky Germany. 

The 26-year-old has played in 15 of Bayern’s opening 17 Bundesliga games so far this season, but has only started three of their six games in the Champions League,

Because of that, Sky’s report added that it will be difficult or even impossible to convince him to extend his contract, with his departure ‘as good as sealed.’

Sule has been of interest to Newcastle United and Chelsea in recent weeks, with the Germany international open to joining either club. 

Chelsea are in the market for a central defender amid the uncertain future of Rudiger with Thomas Tuchel placing his fellow countryman Sule on a list alongside several other centre-backs.

Meanwhile, Sport Bild’s Christian Falk reports that Newcastle opened talks to sign Sule around three weeks ago, adding that the 26-year-old is ‘interested’ in the project at St James’ Park.

Metro.co.uk’s best XI of players out of contract in the summer (Picture: Getty)

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