It’s fair to say that the coronavirus outbreak has shook up the world of football to its core.
Such is the decimation to the domestic season that Euro 2020 has had to be delayed a year to ensure all of the fixtures are played, and the extension of the campaign does pose another question too.
If a player’s contract runs out on June 30, will they still be allowed to play for their club after that point? And, perhaps more pertinently, will their agent allow them to risk getting an injury with the turnaround time between this season and next likely to be so short?
Either way, the players on the list below are all available to walk away from their clubs for free on July 1, and that will surely spark a major scramble for their signatures.
Edinson Cavani (PSG)
He may not be as prolific as he once was, but Edinson Cavani still commands plenty of respect in the game and, having only just turned 33, still has a strong season or two in the locker.
The Uruguayan has been a goal and assist machine for PSG through the years, and his technical-yet-languid style would be perfect for Italian football – could a move to Juventus or former club Napoli beckon?
As you might expect for a player of Cavani’s stature, the media has been rampant with guesses as to where he might be heading this summer, with one firm stating that he is poised to join Atletico Madrid and another claiming that he will be retiring!
Dries Mertens (Napoli)
Here’s another player who, despite turning 33 in May, still has plenty of offer at the top level.
Dries Mertens could walk away from Napoli on July 1 – rumours suggest a new contract is on the table, and there will be no shortage of admirers trying to persuade him to leave for pastures new, with Inter Milan thought to be at the front of the queue.
The Belgian has been a prime performer in Naples for a number of seasons, and he remains one of the very best creative talents in Italian football.
Here’s his Napoli career in numbers:
- 2019/20 – 12 goals, 5 assists, 1.6 key passes per 90
- 2018/19 – 19 goals, 13 assists, 2.0 key passes per 90
- 2017/18 – 20 goals, 9 assists, 2.3 key passes per 90
- 2016/17 – 33 goals, 11 assists, 1.4 key passes per 90
Mario Gotze (Borussia Dortmund)
A player seemingly with the world at his feet when scoring the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, Mario Gotze’s career has not exactly gone how he and others have envisaged.
He has struggled to nail down a starting place first at Bayern and now Borussia Dortmund, and at the age of 27 time is running out for the attacker to fulfil his early potential.
His stats have been down for the last couple of seasons – not aided by starting most games on the bench, and Gotze will have to prove to any prospective new clubs that he still has the game to shine at the top level.
That said, they always say be wary of the player with a point to prove….
The Brazilian has been a key and loyal player at Chelsea for a number of seasons, but with talks of a new deal having stalled it appears that Willian’s future lies away from London….unless Arsenal make an eye-catching bid to lure him across the capital, that is.
The likes of Juventus and Barcelona have also been mentioned in passing, and that’s because the 31-year-old has been churning out decent numbers this term:
- Goals = 6
- Assists = 6
- Key Passes = 2.3 per 90
- Dribbles = 2.9 per 90
- Pass Success = 81%
Something of a fan favourite at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea fans are likely to say a sad farewell to the winger this summer.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan)
Does your club need a proven goalscorer?
They may already be on the trail of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who at the age of 38 still has a remarkable appetite for putting the ball in the back of the net.
He netted four in eight starts for AC Milan in a short-term spell this term, but is likely to walk away from the Rossoneri in the summer.
Reports suggest his next challenge could be in management, but put enough money on the table and Zlatan is usually open-minded about listening to any offers that head his way.
David Silva (Manchester City)
It has already been confirmed that David Silva will bid a fond farewell to Manchester City this summer.
The diminutive midfielder has cemented his status as a club legend in a silverware-laden spell, and at 34 he leaves in a move that suits all parties concerned.
A switch back to his native Spain would appear to be the most likely port of call, but there are rumours circulating that David Beckham wants Silva to be the centrepiece of his new Inter Miami project when the MLS gets back underway.
Charles Aranguiz (Bayer Leverkusen)
The little Chilean is a fine player, and while he might not be as showy as some on this list Charles Aranguiz will still draw plenty of admirers should he walk away from Bayer Leverkusen on July 1.
He is a metronomic presence in midfield, with a gift for retaining possession and laying the foundation for attacks – his pass success rate this season of 86.1% in 18 Bundesliga appearances is outstanding.
Aranguiz is the kind of player who you could imagine pulling on an Arsenal or Tottenham shirt, so fans of the North London clubs should be watching this space.
Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham)
It’s been a nightmare season for Tottenham, and their former captain could be a major casualty of a summer cull at the hands of Jose Mourinho.
Apparently Spurs want to keep the Belgian, but it’s telling that they have offered Toby Alderweireld a new deal but not Vertonghen.
At 32, surely a move to a more a lower-paced and less physical league awaits a player who still has plenty to offer a club should he feel loved.