Who are the top out of contract players in England and across Europe? Sky Sports takes a look…
David Ospina’s reputation in England was not helped by an error-prone four-year spell at Arsenal, but he rebounded with Napoli, where he established himself as the No1 as the Italian side secured a Champions League spot. But the Colombia international is yet to commit to extending his four-year spell in Naples, which has reportedly caught the attention of Real Madrid and Villarreal. While he would no doubt serve as back-up to Thibaut Courtois at the Bernabeu, the fact the Spanish champions would consider a move for Ospina shows he is still held in high esteem around Europe. At 33, the goalkeeper still has gas in the tank and would be a bargain signing.
It’s 20 years since Dani Alves first moved to Europe with Sevilla and, remarkably, he’s still competing at the top level, having just completed the campaign with Barcelona. The 39-year-old has been open about his desire to extend his second spell at the Nou Camp, but news on an extension is yet to be forthcoming. Despite his advancing years, Alves remains effective, finishing second for assists and chances created per 90 minutes among defenders in La Liga last season. While he probably cannot be relied upon to start every week, the three-time Champions League winner could be a canny short-term pick-up.
Wolves defender Roman Saiss will be playing for a new club next season after the Moroccan announced on May 31 he would be leaving Molineux at the end of his contract. Saiss has been a stalwart for Wolves since signing from French club Angers, helping the club achieve promotion from the Championship and consolidating their place in the Premier League. At 32, Saiss does not have an abundance of time left playing at the top level, but could be a smart piece of business on a short-term deal for any top-flight club.
Burnley may be going down to the Championship but James Tarkowski will not be joining them. His contract is up at the end of June and he is proving to be one of the more sought-after defenders among Premier League clubs this summer, with Everton closing in. Tarkowski would be a massive coup on a free, having been priced out of a move previously due to Burnley’s high demands.
Real Madrid’s Champions League final win over Liverpool was a glorious ending for Marcelo’s trophy-laden career at the Spanish giants. After 16 seasons, Real’s most decorated player is heading for new pastures after his contract was not extended. The attack-focused left-back has won 25 major honours with Real including five Champions Leagues and six La Liga titles – although his 12 appearances in the latest league triumph pointed to the 34-year-old’s reducing influence in recent seasons.
Juan Mata has bid his final farewell to Manchester United after eight years at Old Trafford as he prepares to make what will likely be the final move of his career. A transfer back to his native Spain feels appropriate for Mata, who has lost most of his speed at 34, but still possesses a magical touch and an eye for a killer pass. The former Chelsea midfielder will be hoping for one last hurrah.
Jesse Lingard’s nightmare 2021/22 campaign is over and he is free to leave Manchester United and find a club that can guarantee him first-team football as he looks to earn a spot in England’s World Cup squad. It’s been a dreary final season at Old Trafford for Lingard, but interested clubs should not forget his loan form at West Ham at the back end of last season when considering a move. The attacking midfielder would be a smart signing for any club aspiring to break into the top six next season and the Hammers, along with Newcastle, are interested, but it is unclear where his future lies.
Christian Eriksen’s return to the Premier League with Brentford has been a revelation. Few knew what level he would be at following his cardiac arrest at Euro 2020, but his six-month spell in west London has re-established him as one of the top creative midfielders in the transfer market. Whoever pulls off this free transfer can count themselves lucky as it is not often a player of Eriksen’s quality is available without a fee. Brentford are hopeful of keeping Eriksen, but they are expected to face strong competition from elsewhere, with Manchester United keen.
Could Luis Suarez be set for a dramatic return to the Premier League? The former Liverpool striker has been linked with a move to Aston Villa, where he would be reunited with former Reds team-mates Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho, although there is also talk of a switch back to his native South America. Suarez will leave Atletico after two years in Madrid that yielded a La Liga title. The 35-year-old scored 34 goals for Diego Simeone’s side, including 13 this season, despite not being a regular starter.
Rarely are clubs presented with the opportunity to sign a player with 32 caps for Argentina, five Serie A titles and more than 50 Champions League appearances to their name, for free. Paulo Dybala is no veteran looking to wind down his career away from the high-pressure environment at Juventus. The forward is only 28 and was desperate to remain in Turin, as shown by the floods of tears on display after his farewell game. But Juventus have decided to let Dybala walk away for nothing, which has reportedly caught the attention of a number of their domestic and continental rivals, including Inter Milan, Roma and Tottenham.
Ousmane Dembele is probably the most high-profile free agent of the summer thanks to the back and forth that has taken place between Barcelona and his entourage this season. The Spanish club told the 25-year-old to leave in January so they could receive a fee for him, but Dembele refused, saying he would not give in to “blackmail”. However, the winger was then reintegrated into the first team by manager Xavi, and talks have taken place over extending his contract. But as things stand, Dembele can sign a deal with a new club, and after recording 13 assists in just 21 La Liga games this season, he will have plenty of interest. Chelsea and Liverpool are among the clubs to be linked with the World Cup winner.
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