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Player power is on the rise and more and more of the game’s superstars are choosing to run down their contracts in a bid to enter the lucrative free agent market.
This summer, in-demand players and household names like Paul Pogba, Franck Kessie and Paulo Dybala among others will change clubs for zilch after their deals expired, while Kylian Mbappe – who is arguably football’s most valuable commodity – almost walked to Real Madrid for free before penning a bumper new contract with the Parisians.
In 12-months’ time however, the list of contracts set to expire is mind-blowingly long and with dozens of high-profile performers potentially on the market for nothing, the summer of 2023 could become one of the most intense and impactful transfer windows in decades.
There is of course the possibility that clubs will look to cash in the players whose contracts are dwindling during the current transfer window in an attempt to extract some kind of value from their prized assets, though as things stand, we’re looking at a free transfer free for all next year.
Below, we’ve taken a closer look at some of the stars who will be out of contract in 2023.
Mohamed Salah – Liverpool
Prolific Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah has been at the centre of lengthy protracted contract negotiations with Liverpool, though with talks at an impasse and a summer sale this year unlikely, the Kop icon could walk for free in a year’s time. Salah seems to be committed to the Reds for one more campaign, though the latest rumours suggest he would be open to joining one of Liverpool’s Premier League rivals in 2023.
Raheem Sterling – Manchester City
Still just 27, Raheem Sterling became more of a peripheral figure at Manchester City in 2021/22 and the England international is rumoured to be questioning his future at The Etihad. If he can stay patient for another year, Sterling will have a lengthy list of suitors to choose from as a free agent.
Marcus Rashford – Manchester United
Marcus Rashford cut a forlorn figure at Manchester United last season and many observers have suggested that a change of scenery might do the forward some good. A return to form under new United boss Erik ten Hag would allay any expiring contract fears however, while United also have an +1 year option in Rashford’s current deal that they can trigger.
Serge Gnabry – Bayern Munich
Serge Gnabry has chipped in with double-figure goals in each of his last four seasons for German giants Bayern Munich, however, with just 12 months left to run on his deal in Bavaria, the Bundesliga champions are believed to be open to selling the wide attacker this summer. Gnabry turns 27 in July and his list of admirers is thought to be long.
Lionel Messi – PSG
Lionel Messi sent shockwaves across Europe when he signed a £25m net per year deal with PSG in 2021, though that eye-watering deal is set to expire in a year. Messi has always been open about his desire to return to Argentina in the twilight of his career, however, at 34 he still has miles on the clock and a new short-term contract in Paris looks the likeliest scenario.
Cristiano Ronaldo – Manchester United
Is Ronaldo the cause of or solution to Manchester United’s problems? Nobody is quite sure, however, the Red Devils are stuck with the Portuguese veteran for another year. With few clubs able to match his salary demands, it will be interesting to see where Ronaldo heads in 2023, though a new deal to keep him at Old Trafford probably won’t be on the table.
Jan Oblak – Atletico Madrid
Atletico Madrid keeper Jan Oblak is widely considered to be one of the best players in the world in his position and at 29, he could potentially have another decade ahead of him at the top. After eight years with Atletico in Spain, the Slovenian stopper might fancy a new challenge in 2023 and he has the quality to excel anywhere in the world.
Riyad Mahrez – Manchester City
Riyad Mahrez is one of a number of big-name Man City first-teamers whose contracts are due to expire next year and the Algerian wing wizard could well head for pastures new when his deal runs out. Mahrez started just 15 times in the Premier League for the champions last term and he might feel its time to seek out a more prominent role elsewhere.
Wilfried Zaha – Crystal Palace
Eagles attacker Wilfried Zaha has long pined for a move away from Crystal Palace, though the hefty price tag placed on his head by the Londoners has scuppered many a potential switch. However, in the summer of 2023, Zaha will finally have control of his own destiny and the Ivorian international seems certain to step up a level.
Kalidou Koulibaly – Napoli
Giant centre-back Kalidou Koulibaly has been filling transfer gossip column inches for years, though a move away from Napoli has never quite got over the line. However, in 2023, the Senegalese international could earn a free transfer to end his eight-year association with the Partenopei. With few top tier defenders around, Koulibaly could be a bargain worth pursuing for many.
Milan Skriniar – Inter
27-year-old Slovakian defender Milan Skriniar is known for his tough tackling and no-nonsense style and the Inter lynchpin could be on the move for nothing next year. A Serie A title-winner under Antonio Conte and a 54-times capped international, Skriniar has plenty of pedigree and there promises to be an intense scramble for his signature if he allows his current contract to finish.
Jorginho – Chelsea
Jorginho has been a key component of Tomas Tuchel’s midfield at Chelsea, though the Italian national team regular has just 12 months to run on his current arrangement with the Blues. Jorginho’s fellow engine room operator at Stamford Bridge, N’Golo Kante, could also sweep out the exit door for nothing when his contract runs out next summer.
Roberto Firmino – Liverpool
With Sadio Mane working on an exit to Bayern Munich this summer and Mohamed Salah seemingly keen on engineering a move away from Anfield, Liverpool face the prospect of losing all three of their famed attacking triumvirate by next year. Brazilian Roberto Firmino has just 12 months to run on his contract with the Reds and with his number of starts on the wane, a departure looks probable.
Ilkay Gundogan – Manchester City
German schemer Ilkay Gundogan won the Premier League title for Manchester City on the campaign’s final day with two goals off the bench against Aston Villa, though his love story with the Cityzens could draw to a close next year. Gundogan has already made noises about potential moves elsewhere and City could cash in on the 31-year-old before August.
Karim Benzema – Real Madrid
Karim Benzema wrote a new chapter in his increasingly glorious career in 2021/22 when he helped to fire Real Madrid to a somewhat unexpected triumph in the Champions League, though the talismanic French forward’s deal with Los Blancos runs out in 2023. Real supporters wouldn’t accept the loss of Benzema, especially on a free transfer, so expect a renewal before Christmas.
Other players out of contract in 2023
Gavi – Barcelona
Youri Tielemans – Leicester City
Fabian Ruiz – Napoli
N'Golo Kante – Chelsea
Gabriel Jesus – Manchester City
Caglar Soyuncu – Leiecester City
Luke Shaw – Manchester United
Thomas Lemar – Atletico Madrid
Jose Gaya – Valencia
Memphis Depay – Barcelona
Raphael Guerreiro – Borussia Dortmund
Yves Bissouma – Brighton
Leander Dendoncker – Wolves
Naby Keita – Liverpool
Stefan de Vrij – Inter
Konrad Laimer – RB Leipzig
Nordi Mukiele – RB Leipzig
Houssem Aouar – Lyon
Fred – Manchester United
Toni Kroos – Real Madrid
Yerry Mina – Everton
Leandro Trossard – Brighton
William Carvalho – Real Betis
David de Gea – Manchester United
Nick Pope – Burnley