The 2021 summer transfer window was one of the most eventful in recent memory.
One of the big winners of the window were Paris Saint-Germain, who landed a stunning array of talent on free transfers. The Ligue 1 giants brought in the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Georginio Wijnaldum, Sergio Ramos and Lionel Messi, all without paying a penny to their former clubs.
Elsewhere, Sergio Aguero, David Alaba and Memphis Depay were among other star players to switch clubs on the same terms.
With a number of top names currently in the final year of their contracts with their existing clubs, we could well see a similar situation unfold in 2022. Here, per FourFourTwo, are 20 of the biggest names who might be available on a free transfer come next summer.
20. Todd Cantwell (Norwich)
19. Niklas Sule (Bayern Munich)
18. James Tarkowski (Burnley)
17. Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
16. Andre Onana (Ajax)
Highly-rated Norwich midfielder Cantwell was linked with a move to Aston Villa this summer. However, the 23-year-old remains at Carrow Road as the months on his current deal tick down.
Bayern Munich saw Alaba join Real Madrid for free when his contract expired at the end of last season – and could potentially lose defender Sule and midfielder Tolisso in the same fashion 12 months later.
Burnley centre-back Tarkowski refused a new contract at Turf Moor last year and the 28-year-old looks set to become a free agent at the conclusion of the current campaign.
15. Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
14. James Rodriguez (Everton)
13. Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
12. Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
11. Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)
Things haven’t gone to plan for James Rodriguez at Goodison Park. The Colombian had seemed a likely candidate to depart Everton this summer, but no takers could be found for the 30-year-old. Far from central to the plans of boss Rafa Benitez, James’ days on Merseyside seem numbered.
The same is true of Arsenal forward Alexandre Lacazette. The Gunners were keen to offload the Frenchman this summer, with his spell at the Emirates widely considered to have been a disappointment. He is almost certain to leave the club this summer.
Chelsea fans, though, will be hoping that a deal to extend the contract of Antonio Rudiger can be reached. The German defender has featured regularly under Thomas Tuchel but has yet to commit his future to the Blues.
10. Franck Kessie (Milan)
9. Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
8. Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
7. Angel Di Maria (PSG)
6. Leon Goretzka (Bayern Munich)
Another Chelsea defender who could be on the move unless he puts pen-to-paper on a contract extension is 25-year-old Andreas Christensen. With great competition for places at Stamford Bridge, the Dane might need to be convinced of his prospects for playing time before agreeing to remain in west London.
Clubs across Europe will be closely monitoring the contract status of Paulo Dybala and Leon Goretzka over the coming months, as both men are due to be free agents come the summer. If their situations remain the same, a scramble for their services might ensue come January.
5. Pedri (Barcelona)
4. Ansu Fati (Barcelona)
3. Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)
2. Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
1. Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
Much has been made in recent months of the way Barcelona chiefs have gone about running the club – with many decisions openly being questioned by fans.
One of these is the fact that the Blaugrana opted to hand contracts to veterans such as Aguero and Eric Garcia in the summer, rather than securing the long-term futures of wonderkids Pedri and Fati.
Barca claim that they have Fati under contract until 2024. However, this is disputed by the player’s agent, Jorge Mendes, who insists that the 18-year-old will be free to leave the Camp Nou this summer.
Former Barcelona man Luis Suarez has also entered the last 12 months of his contract with Atletico Madrid. The Uruguayan will be 35 years of age when his current deal expires – and with the La Liga side having recently secured the return of Antoine Griezmann – there has to be some doubt as to whether Suarez will renew his deal.
A few months ago, it appeared Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba was determined to leave Old Trafford, with PSG reportedly keen to secure his signature. The 28-year-old now has less than a year left on his existing contract, but United are hopeful that their strong recent recruitment will convince him to remain in Manchester.
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Kylian Mbappe could hardly have made it any more clear that he wants to represent Real Madrid next season, making PSG’s chances of convincing him to sign a new deal appear slim.
In a sensational turn of events of transfer deadline day, PSG failed to accept a mammoth €220 million bid from Los Blancos for the 22-year-old. Given that Mbappe has only months left on his current contract in the French capital, the whole scenario was incredibly surreal. The French youngster might be the most high-profile player out of contract next summer, but there’s only one team that he seems likely to join.
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