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The biggest football stars out of contract in summer 2021

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Those of us who have long played FIFA or Football Manager will know all too well that January is the most exciting month in any career mode.

The video game occasionally stupidly forgets to renegotiate contracts for some of the world’s biggest footballers, and you are given a free shot at snapping up icons for absolutely nothing.

Like shooting fish in a barrel, you build a super team of over 30’s on free transfers, and you hastily blitz through the final six months of the season, excitedly anticipating the arrival of your Galacticos.

Well, conspiracy theories that suggest we are living in a computer simulation of reality may be more accurate than we first thought, because someone clearly forgot to trigger the auto-renew button on football’s elite this year.

But which players are up for grabs for free in the summer? 90min is here with a list of the top players ready to walk away from their current clubs on 1 July 2021.

TOPSHOT-FBL-ESP-LIGA-VALLADOLID-BARCELONA
One man and his ball | CESAR MANSO/Getty Images

Not sure if you’ve heard of this guy, but apparently he’s kind of a big deal. Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona at the end of the season, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain want to sign him – but sources tell us he also earns quite a bit of money. It won’t be cheap, guys.

David Alaba
Alaba may be looking for a new challenge | Handout/Getty Images

David Alaba is a Bayern legend, but it looks as if his time in Bavaria has come to its conclusion. Chelsea have been linked with a deal for the Austrian defender in the past, so will they reignite their interest when he is available for nothing?

Gianluigi Donnarumma
The big man for the big occasion | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

On one hand, every statement from Gianluigi Donnarumma indicates he wants to stay at Milan for the rest of his career. On the other, his agent is a certain Mino Raiola, who would not benefit at all from that loyalty. Deadlock at San Siro.

Sergio Ramos
The heart and soul of Real Madrid | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Surely, surely Sergio Ramos won’t leave Real Madrid this summer!? The Blancos captain is yet to put pen to paper, so for now, we can only speculate on his future.

Paris Saint-Germain v Olympique Lyon - Ligue 1
Plotting his next move | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Lyon star Memphis Depay was destined to join Barcelona in the summer, until la Blaugrana failed to stump up the cash. Now available at a much cheaper price (if not for free), Ronald Koeman will look to reunite with his Netherlands star.

Georginio Wijnaldum
Wijnaldum has been pivotal to Liverpool’s success over the years | Michael Regan/Getty Images

A Liverpool legend, and an under-appreciated one at that. Georginio Wijnaldum is another Dutchman being courted by Koeman and Barça, and while some Reds may think he’s past his best, the Camp Nou rumours show he still holds a place at the top of European football.

Sergio Aguero
Aguero hearing about the new Fall Guys update | Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

He may be more of a streamer than a goalscorer nowadays, but Sergio Aguero has definitely got a couple more years left in his legs. That is, if he doesn’t pack in his football career for his fame on Twitch.

SSC Napoli v AC Milan - Serie A
Timeless | MB Media/Getty Images

Everyone thought he was finished when he went to MLS. In January 2020, Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to Milan. He has scored 10 goals in six appearances this season. Whether he stays in Serie A or not, Ibra has plenty left to offer.

Paris Saint Germain v Istanbul Basaksehir - UEFA Champions League
Di Maria is a quality winger | Xavier Laine/Getty Images

Angel Di Maria may be 32 years old, but he could still win games singlehandedly at most levels. Or he could go and tear it up back in his homeland of Argentina. He’s earned it.

Luka Modric
Age is but a number for Modric | Soccrates Images/Getty Images

The years tick by, but Luka Modric’s class remains in tact. His Madrid contract will expire in the summer, but they’d be crazy to lose him for nothing in July.

Edinson Cavani
Cavani in action for Manchester United | Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Edinson Cavani’s brief cameos for Man Utd have demonstrated that he will never lose that goalscoring knack. Will the Red Devils extend his stay beyond this season, or set him free to wreak havoc elsewhere?

Hakan Calhanoglu
Calhanoglu has come on leaps and bounds over the past 12 months | Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

Hakan Calhanoglu was much maligned by Milan fans during his first two and a half years at the club, but he has exploded into the team’s key creator over the past 12 months. Now attracting interest from Manchester United, I Rossoneri have a job on their hands if they want to keep the Turkish playmaker.

Julian Draxler
Draxler in action for Germany | Lars Baron/Getty Images

Once a target for every Premier League club, Julian Draxler is on the verge of waving goodbye to Paris once and for all. Will we finally see him on British shores?

Arkadiusz Milik
Milik has barely featured for Napoli this season | Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Arkadiusz Milik almost left SSC Napoli for AS Roma in the summer, but the move fell through at the last minute. Will I Giallorossi return to sign the Polish hitman?

Henrikh Mkhitaryan
Mkhitaryan is Roma’s key attacker this season | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is expected to renew his contract at Roma beyond the coming summer, but should he decide against it, his new club would be welcoming the Armenian in the form of his life.

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Thauvin has grown considerably since his Newcastle days | NICOLAS TUCAT/Getty Images

Yes, this is the same Florian Thauvin that flopped at Newcastle United. Having proven himself as a quality player at Marseille, the Frenchman fancies one last crack at the big time.

Riqui Puig
Puig could leave Barcelona this summer | Pool/Getty Images

Although he is considered one of the hottest prospects in Spanish football, Riqui Puig has failed to convince Barcelona coach Koeman of his talents. Who will leave first though?

Eric Garcia
Garcia has expressed his desire to join Barça | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Eric Garcia has expressed his desire to leave Man City and join Barça, while Barça have expressed their desire to sign Garcia. All feels fairly routine and inevitable for this one.

LEVERKUSEN, GERMANY - DECEMBER 19:
Boateng is back to his best with Bayern | Lars Baron/Getty Images

Jerome Boateng hit his dodgy spell and came out the other side as a stronger man. Whichever team snaps him up can most definitely count on his endless experience.

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Bernat has been a solid player for PSG over the years | FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Juan Bernat is another PSG player set to leave the French giants this summer, and they’ll be losing a valuable squad player at that.

Joshua King
Josh King in the Championship | Naomi Baker/Getty Images

it wasn’t long ago that Josh King was being tipped for a switch to Man Utd, but injuries and relegation have seen his stock fall dramatically. Now scrapping in the Championship, is he still on the mind of the Premier League giants?

Moussa Marega
A proven prospect for Premier League sides | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Moussa Marega has been a consistent goalscorer for Porto over the years, and he is ready to put his clinical nature to the test in the Premier League.

Juan Mata
Mata remains a wonderful player on the eye | Pool/Getty Images

Juan Mata should go down as a Premier League legend for all his years of service to Chelsea and Man Utd, but the time to make a return to Spain may be upon him.

Shkodran Mustafi
Mustafi – the Barcelona target | Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

As if 2020 wasn’t mental enough, Shkodran Mustafi is a genuine target for Barça. Stop the world, I wanna get off guys.

Elseid Hysaj
Hysaj has been a loyal servant to Napoli over the years | Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

Elseid Hysaj was a Napoli regular for five years, but he has barely featured for I Partenopei this season. Time to part ways, perhaps.

Fabian Schär (Newcastle)
Schar has had his work cut out with the Magpies | MB Media/Getty Images

It’s fair to say that Fabian Schar has shown himself to be a competent Premier League defender – he’s had a lot of practice at the heart of this limp Newcastle side. A good squad player for almost any top flight team.

Lucas Vazquez
The ultimate squad player | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Lucas Vazquez has been a bit-part Madrid player for far too long. Leave your comfort zone and show us exactly what you can do on a weekly basis, Lucas.

SS Lazio v Zenit St. Petersburg: Group F - UEFA Champions League
Driussi has time on his side | Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images

Only 24 years of age, there is still plenty of time for Sebastian Driussi to fulfil the potential he showed during his early years at River Plate.

Jonny Evans
Evans has excelled at Leicester City | Michael Regan/Getty Images

Jonny Evans has confirmed all our suspicions during his time at Leicester City: he can cut it among the big boys. The 32-year-old has even been linked with a move back to Man Utd – that’s not a bad idea, actually.

Ryan Bertrand
Bertrand is a decent Premier League left-back | Pool/Getty Images

Southampton are believed to be in talks with Ryan Bertrand over a new contract, but there will be plenty of vultures circling should a deal fail to materialise.

Javier Martinez
Javi Martinez is a mountain of experience | Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images

For any team needing to boost their experience and squad depth in the midfield or defence next year, Javi Martinez is the man. A winner at all levels.

Demarai Gray
Gray has failed to deliver on his early promise | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Having threatened to become a Premier League star, Demarai Gray has never quite delivered on those promises. His time at Leicester City is coming to an end, and he has to find a new home next year.

Jesse Lingard
Lingard’s Man Utd career has spiralled terribly | James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images

Get Jesse Lingard happy and firing again, and you’ll have earned yourself a lovely little player on the cheap. This deal’s got a successful couple of seasons at Roma (or Newcastle) written all over it.

Diego Costa
A scary man | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Diego Costa’s return to Atletico Madrid has been nothing short of an unmitigated disaster. Somehow, I don’t think he’ll be sticking around beyond the summer. A year in China, perhaps?

Danilo D'Ambrosio
A useful and versatile defensive option | Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Danilo D’Ambrosio must be Inter coach Antonio Conte’s dream defender: a wing-back who can do a job at centre-back if needs be. It’d be a shock if I Nerazzurri didn’t tie him down for longer.

Juventus v Torino FC - Serie A
N’Koulou is ready to leave Torino | Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Nicolas N’Koulou has caught the eye of Italy’s big guns in recent transfer windows, but Torino blocked his exit. There’s nothing they can do to stop him leaving now, though.

Danny Rose
Danny Rose is not enjoying his football | Alex Morton/Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur and Danny Rose’s relationship has come to a bitter halt, and the end is finally in sight. The left-back still has a few good years left in the tank though, despite what Jose Mourinho thinks…

David Luiz
Luiz has proven a poor signing | Pool/Getty Images

FOR SALE: Ticking time bomb. Price £0, ONO. Arsenal may decide to chuck this human hand grenade far from the Emirates stadium this summer, but who will be crazy enough to pick David Luiz up?

Christian Benteke
Benteke has not enjoyed a successful spell at Palace | Sebastian Frej/MB Media/Getty Images

Are you on the look out for a striker who has scored nine goals in three and a half seasons? Then look no further than Christian Benteke!

Marcos Rojo
Rojo’s Man Utd journey has reached its end | Rodrigo Valle/Getty Images

Who doesn’t want a hot-headed, unreliable Argentine at the heart of their defence? Marcos Rojo won’t be Man Utd’s problem after this summer, but he’ll find a loving home elsewhere.