The transfer market has seen plenty of big-name players move clubs on free transfers lately, but who could be next on the agenda?
The class of 2022 already includes Gareth Bale (LAFC), Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid), Niklas Sule (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Perisic (Tottenham) and Lorenzo Insigne (Toronto). Paris Saint-Germain striker Kylian Mbappe could have been one of the hottest free agents of all time, but opted to sign a new contract, although there are other stars who aren’t. have not yet agreed terms, either with a new club or on a new contract this summer too.
Barcelona winger Ousmane Dembele, Juventus striker Paulo Dybala and Brentford midfielder Christian Eriksen are just some of the biggest stars still available, while sources have told ESPN Juventus have reached an agreement to sign Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and Barcelona are close to securing a brace. move for AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie and Chelsea defender Andreas Christensen once they are able to sort out their finances in order to save them.
And when you look further afield to 2023, the excitement level kicks up a notch. Here are some of the biggest names and potential bargains clubs could land as they now have less than a year left on their contracts.
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The big names
Mohamed Salah, 30, striker, Liverpool
In a similar vein to Lewandowski, Liverpool have spent months facing a dilemma over how to strategically deal with a world-class player on an expiring contract. On the one hand, Salah is one of the few real difference makers at the top level of the game (although his productivity dipped towards the end of last season), while on the other, Liverpool seem admirably adamant about s to stick to its philosophy of trust. their own assessment regarding transfer fees and wages. While there is no doubt that Salah is among the best strikers in the world, his salary demands limit his options to a very small selection of suitors. Liverpool can hold on, but it’s a risk.
Robert Lewandowski, 33, centre-forward, Bayern Munich
Arguably the best No.9 in world football in recent years, Lewandowski’s future has been the subject of much debate this summer. Sources have told ESPN that Barcelona have made three offers to sign the Poland international and the 33-year-old has already expressed a desire to leave, despite Bayern not playing ball. Although the years are catching up with him, Lewandowski is still exceptionally fit and has a pretty spotless injury history which indicates he could even continue at the top level well into his late 30s. If Bayern hang on, he could be one of the best signings next summer.
Raheem Sterling, 27, striker, Manchester City
With Sterling at his peak and having performed well for Manchester City over the past few seasons, it’s surprising that City let the winger’s contract end with the uncomfortable scenario of the past year. Of course, Sterling’s representatives are well aware of his transfer value with demands to be matched, but as much as City have no shortage of options in the wide areas of their attack, only an offer of around €60m – with sources telling ESPN Chelsea are interested – would justify his departure from the Etihad.
Youri Tielemans, 25, central midfielder, Leicester City
A wonderfully complete midfielder who is arguably only a touch of pace away from making it into the game’s elite No.8s. With over 300 league appearances to his name, despite being only in his twenties, Tielemans is naturally valued closely by Europe’s biggest clubs. His work-rate, first-class shooting technique and excellent passing game – fast, precise, progressive in view of the end product – make him a player who always seems to have a positive impact on a match.
The good deals
Marcus Thuram, 24, attacking midfielder / striker, Borussia Mönchengladbach
Partly due to injuries and unfavorable form, Thuram’s development appears to have stagnated somewhat over the past 18 months – his younger brother Khephren now drawing praise at Nice. Still, this could be an opportune time to sign the three-time France international. Although Thuram prefers to operate as a left winger, to cut on his stronger right foot, he can – with his impressive ball progression, power and aerial strength – also offer an option in the middle or on the opposite side of the game. ‘offensive. Sevilla, Arsenal and Inter Milan have been linked with him in the past.
Renato Sanches, 24, central midfielder, Lille
Although he has yet to deliver on the incredible promise made during his first breakthrough as a teenager at Benfica in 2016, the former Bayern Munich midfielder has developed and matured over the last year. If not totally reborn, Sanches is one of the best ball carriers in Europe’s top leagues and can break down the midfield dribbling like few others – he faces opponents four times a game while managing nearly half the time. His gradual transformation hasn’t gone unnoticed, with AC Milan and Paris Saint-Germain reportedly set to negotiate a possible €12m move this summer.
Sasa Kalajdzic, 24, centre-forward, Stuttgart
Despite missing the first half of last season, the Austria international enjoyed a decent spell after returning in early January to finish with six goals in 15 games. At 6ft 7in his movement is somewhat restricted (but not for lack of running errands), but if Kalajdzic is supplied from wide areas and finds a team willing to build the game around his strengths (aerial game and goal poaching ) then it can be a great success. Having already been touted as a possible replacement for Lewandowski at Bayern, there’s every chance the towering leader will soon swap Stuttgart for a bigger club.
Konrad Laimer, 25, defensive midfielder, RB Leipzig
Although he may lack creativity in possession, the Austria international is a sure and reliable passer and one of the most assiduous central midfielders at the top level of the European game. Thanks to an exceptional ability to press – he averages more than 30 presses per game – Laimer is extremely difficult to face. He is always proactive, mentally alert and his positional sense gives him an almost uncanny ability to find himself where the ball is falling. Tailor-made for modern, high-energy football, Laimer – who is also capable of filling in as a wide midfielder or full-back – is said to be on the shortlist of a number of top clubs, including Bayern and Man United. around 25 million euros.
Houssem Aouar, 24, attacking midfielder, Lyon
The technically gifted, mobile and press-resistant midfielder may not be attracting the same attention as a few years ago, given that his career at Lyon has taken a bit of a sideways turn, but Aouar can nevertheless enjoy a respectable Ligue 1 season. Previously linked with Arsenal and Barcelona, the 24-year-old now finds himself being chased by the likes of Roma and Nice. Given the right environment and position within the team, Aouar could potentially have a similar impact to Bernardo Silva at Manchester City. As well as having excellent vision, an excellent first touch and a high footballing IQ, the Lyonnais is among the easiest midfielders to trigger at the top level of French football and, for a reduced transfer fee of around 20 million euros, could prove to be a real bargain.
Rayan Cherki, 18, attacking midfielder, Lyon
Like Aouar, Cherki may not have liked the progress announced just a year ago. Although a serious foot injury in February ended his campaign prematurely, the France Under-21 international never managed to clinch a regular place in Peter Bosz’s Lyon first team. Certainly, there is room for improvement in his defensive work, but once he has acquired a better appreciation of the concept of teamwork (he still strongly favors individual actions – almost five dribbles per match – rather than the incisive final ball), his potential is beyond doubt. With the right coach, he might eventually be able to use his flair more effectively, as there are few more spectacular and creative players in the final third.