The list of high-profile players whose contracts expire this summer is impressive, but there are a number who look set to remain at their clubs. Real Madrid veterans Karim Benzema, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos are all reportedly close to agreeing another year, with forward Marco Asensio ready to sign up for another four, while the futures of Chelsea‘s N’Golo Kante and Borussia Dortmund‘s Marco Reus are likely to be resolved soon too.
Manchester United have an option to extend goalkeeper David de Gea by a year, though want him to accept a lower salary, so that could go either way. Meanwhile, a number of players have already agreed to move on including: Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skriniar, Eintracht Frankfurt attacking midfielder Daichi Kamada and RB Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer.
Yet there are several exceptionally talented players who are still to have their futures sorted just weeks before the end of the season. So here’s a rundown of the most coveted.
The most high-profile of them all, Messi looks set to leave PSG as the option to extend into a third year of his contract is reportedly required to have the consent of both club and player. Sources have told ESPN that the Argentina World Cup winner is not prepared to reduce his salary, despite a disappointing season in Paris, and is awaiting offers.
MLS side Inter Miami are keen, as are his former club Barcelona if they can work out the financial aspect, while there remains interest from Saudi Arabia club Al Ittihad. A return to his first club Newell’s Old Boys has been mooted, but it’s unlikely Messi will want to head back to Argentina just now.
Marcus Thuram, 25, forward, Borussia Monchengladbach
Undoubtedly the most attractive young free-transfer proposition available this summer. The France international mostly featured as a winger early in his career but has successfully claimed the centre-forward spot for Gladbach this season with 16 goals from 28 games.
His finishing abilities still require some polishing, but his hold-up play — he drops deep to provide a link to the midfield and distributes well with nice touches and lay-offs — plus his aerial prowess and clever movement off his defender make him a fairly complete target man.
While Serie A side Inter appeared early favourites to close a deal, the Premier League increasingly looks like his next destination with Man United, Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Newcastle all reportedly prepared to battle it out for his signature.
Evan N’Dicka, 23, centre-back, Eintracht Frankfurt
Recently linked with a move to Liverpool, Ndicka has repeatedly attracted interest from European powerhouses since contract extension talks with Frankfurt broke down last year. Barcelona and Arsenal had seemed the most insistent suitors, but it appears that the left-footed centre-back is delaying any decision on his future until the end of the season.
As much as the powerful 6-foot-3 defender possesses great pace and aerial dominance, his audacious style — which often sees him setting off on high-risk runs — and recurring concentration lapses, can make him prone to errors. The France U21 international may not command more than a back-up role at the aforementioned giants, so needs to consider his next move carefully.
Youri Tielemans, 25, central midfielder, Leicester City
Though the Belgium international hasn’t managed to hit the heights of previous seasons — injuries have played a part, as well as a deteriorating Leicester side — Tielemans is a tantalising proposition for clubs hovering around the Champions League spots.
With over 500 games at senior level before his 26th birthday, Leicester City’s record signing (€45m from AS Monaco in 2019) is not just experienced, but his defensive work-rate, attacking creativity, purposeful off-the-ball movement and excellent shooting skills make him a multi-faceted central midfielder.
While he might lack the extra touch of dynamism and line-breaking ball-carrying associated with the best in the business, it would be surprising if Tieleman doesn’t seal a move to a big club this summer.