Football clubs are always looking to sign new players to improve their squads, but it’s also vital for them to keep hold of the key ones they already have.
Despite that, we have constructed an amazing XI of top-quality talent from seven different leagues across Europe whose contracts are set to expire.
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GK – Iker Casillas (Porto)
Iker Casillas is into the final six months of his contract at Porto and the future of the man who has won the World Cup and three Champions Leagues looks uncertain.
Spain’s all-time most-capped player is 35 but has been Porto’s first-choice goalkeeper this year and can take inspiration from Gianluigi Buffon’s incredible consistency for Juventus and Italy at the age of 38.
RB – Antonio Valencia (Man Utd)
Branislav Ivanovic and Pablo Zabaleta’s respective deals run out next year, however Antonio Valencia has been outstanding at right-back for Man United under Jose Mourinho.
With his pace and power, the Ecuadorian is a genuine outlet and, given his fine form this season, surely the current FA Cup holders will offer the 31-year-old regular a new deal.
CB - Thiago Silva (Paris)
Paris Saint-Germain captain Thiago Silva has been one of, if not, the most dominant central defender in Europe for many years now and is truly world-class.
Nicknamed O Monstro (The Monster), Silva produced some defensive masterclasses last season and is almost unbeatable with his strength, intensity, aggression, organisation and reading of the game.
The master tactician’s contract is running down and, while the 32-year-old Brazilian has expressed his desire to remain in Paris, the rise of compatriot Marquinhos and in particular Presnel Kimpembe means Silva’s time in the French capital could be coming to an end.
CB – Pepe (Real)
Say what you want about some of his antics, but Pepe was absolutely exceptional during the 2015-16 campaign and integral to Madrid’s Champions League triumph as well as Portugal’s Euro 2016 victory.
He will be 34 by the end of the season and Los Blancos already have Europe’s best young centre-back in Raphael Varane, but they are banned from signing anyone in the next two windows.
Pepe is desperate to extend his near nine-year stay at the Bernabeu, although the tough-tackling defender is free to talk to other clubs in January.
LB – Jetro Willems (PSV)
Jetro Willems rose to prominence in 2012 when he became the youngest-ever player to appear in a European Championships and he went on to score twice and notch 12 assists from left-back in PSV’s 2014-15 title-winning campaign.
The Dutchman has suffered with bad injuries since, however, and his contract at Eindhoven expires in the summer. He’s been on Liverpool’s radar in the past, and, still only aged 22, he has the potential to become a top-class full-back.
CDM – Daniele de Rossi (Roma)
Daniele de Rossi will undoubtedly go down in history as a Roma legend and all-time great, having spent an incredible 16 years at the Stadio Olimpico, dating back to his youth days.
The 33-year-old defensive midfielder has the tenacity to break up attacks in addition to the vision and technical quality to singlehandedly control games, and he is a massive fan favourite in Rome.
The World Cup winner has never won Serie A, but given his status as one of Roma’s most influential characters, surely the Italian maestro will come to some sort of agreement with the club soon.
CM – Fernandinho (Man City)
Fernandinho, the unsung hero of Manchester City’s star-studded midfield, has been brilliant under Pep Guardiola in a pivot-type holding role and surely his performances will be rewarded with a new contract.
The 31-year-old Brazil international, who moved to the Etihad for £30 million three years ago, is efficient and comfortable on the ball, energetic, defensively solid and always aware.
CAM – Santiago Cazorla (Arsenal)
Santi Cazorla has already stated that he wants a new deal at Arsenal, however the club are yet to begin talks with the silky Spaniard.
He might only be 5’6” tall, but he’s established himself over the years as one of the Premier League’s most gifted attacking midfielders and added both goals and assists to Arsene Wenger’s side since arriving from Malaga in 2012.
Used in a deeper playmaking role last term, the 31-year-old flourished and, injury withstanding, even though he lacks pace, he has the guile, technique, quick feet and dribbling skills to light up football matches anywhere in Europe.
RM – Arjen Robben (Bayern)
Now into his eighth season at Bayern, Arjen Robben has been sensational in Bavaria, scoring 119 goals and providing 61 assists in 227 games to go with five Bundesliga titles and the winning goal against arch rivals Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League final.
The ex-Real and Chelsea winger turns 33 in January but is in talks to sign a new deal, and the wing wizard still possesses pace, wonderful feet, trickery and deadly accuracy when he cuts inside onto his menacing left foot from the right-hand side.
His world-class abilities haven’t been showcased that often over the past 18 months due to countless injuries, however, he’s back playing for Bayern now and even regained the Dutch captaincy.
LM – Franck Ribery (Bayern)
Franck Ribery, Robben’s partner in crime for so long, is also out of contract at the Allianz Arena next year and has been plagued by injuries ever since retiring from international football in 2014, playing just 35 times for Bayern since.
The French wing wizard is a top-class operator at his best and certainly has the pedigree to remain at the highest level for a while yet, having registered 108 goals and more than 100 Bundesliga assists.
2017 will see the 33-year-old’s Munich career reach a decade in length, and he’s surprisingly been their most consistent performer under Carlo Ancelotti alongside youngster Joshua Kimmich.
That said, he’s missed over 100 matches in the last three years through injury and, as Bayern have ready-made replacements in Douglas Costa and Kingsley Coman, they may not be willing to take a risk on Ribery, who is nearing the end of a fabulous career.
ST – Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Man Utd)
Arguably the biggest name in this XI – although Mourinho wants to extend Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s one-year contract for an extra year, certain clauses need to be met in order to automatically trigger that option.
The enigmatic Swede has won trophies everywhere throughout his glittering career, he made a stunning start to life at Old Trafford and the centre-forward is currently United’s top scorer with eight goals.
The Red Devils would love to have the 35-year-old for a second season, not just because of his ability and personality, but also due to the knowledge he could impart on the club’s promising young strikers such as Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.
While some massive stars from European football could be looking for a new team in the near future, surely most of them will have done enough to impress their current employers by next summer.
Do these players deserve new contracts? What do YOU think of this XI? Share YOUR opinion in the comments box below!
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