Out of contract in 2023: Football's best free agents at the end of the season

Lionel Messi Karim Benzema Cristiano Ronaldo 2022-23Getty/GOAL composite

With Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and several other high profile footballers yet to renew their contracts, GOAL takes a look at the players who will be available to sign for free once their current deals come to a close at the end of the 2022-23 football season.

  • Ronaldo Manchester United 2022-23Getty Images

    Cristiano Ronaldo | FW | Manchester United

    Cristiano Ronaldo's dream return to Manchester United has not gone according to plan and his second stint with the Red Devils could potentially come to an end in 2023.

    Manchester United have an option to extend Ronaldo's contract by a year to the summer of 2024 but no contract talks are being reported at the moment.

    The Portuguese forward has not enjoyed a glowing start to the season under Erik Ten Hag and the situation could well be that fans will see the former Real Madrid star in new colours next season.

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    Lionel Messi | FW | PSG

    Lionel Messi is enjoying the second and final year of his current contract with PSG after making the move from Barcelona in 2021. However, like Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United, the Paris-based club have the option to extend Messi's stay in France by one more year.

    Despite leaving Barca behind, talk has persisted regarding a potential return to Catalunya to close out his career, with Joan Laporta declaring: "I don't believe Messi's chapter at Barcelona is over. And I believe it is our responsibility to make sure that chapter is still open, that it hasn't closed."

    Major League Soccer and an Argentina homecoming have also been touted, but Messi appears to be enjoying life in France for now.

  • Benzema Real Madrid 2022 2023Getty Images

    Karim Benzema | FW | Real Madrid

    Karim Benzema has been in such incredible form for Carlo Ancelotti's Real Madrid that his exploits have thrust him firmly into the discussion for the 2022 Ballon d'Or. However, the contract extension he signed in 2021 is set to expire at the end of the 2022-23 season.

    There are talks of an imminent one-year extension for the French striker, which would come as a surprise to no one, but that move is still pending official confirmation.

  • N'Golo Kante Chelsea 2022-23Getty Images

    N'Golo Kante | MF | Chelsea

    N'Golo Kante's current contract with Chelsea will expire in the summer of 2023. After signing for Chelsea from Leicester City in 2016, the French international midfielder then signed a fresh five-year contract back in 2018 and it is coming to a conclusion at the end of the season.

    It remains to be seen what Kante's next step will be, but the winds of change have blown through Stamford Bridge in the last six months and he has been linked with some of Europe's elite, including Barcelona.

  • Marcus Rashford Manchester United 2022-23Getty

    Marcus Rashford | FW | Manchester United

    Manchester United doesn't seem to have taken a decision on the future of Marcus Rashford at the club. The England international forward will be a free agent by the summer of 2023, with the contract he signed in 2019 nearing its expiry date. However, United can trigger a one-year extension.

    Rashford's previous contract extension came with more than one season left for it to expire. With only a few months left this time around, it will be interesting to see if the club decides to do something about the situation in January.

  • Sergio Busquets(C)Getty Images

    Sergio Busquets | MF | Barcelona

    Sergio Busquets' 14-year stint with Barcelona could be coming to an end soon when his contract expires at the end of the 2022-23 season. There haven't been talks of a new deal with the Catalans and the midfielder, who will be 35 next summer, could be moving on following an exceptional, trophy-laden stay.

  • Jorginho Chelsea training 2022-23Getty Images

    Jorginho | MF | Chelsea

    Jorginho's five-year stay at Chelsea will come to an end next summer if both parties do not agree to an extension during the remainder of the ongoing season.

    Jorginho arrived from Napoli back in 2018 and has since been a central figure at Stamford Bridge. There was rumoured interest from Juventus in the summer but there could be talks between the club and the player soon, according to his agent.

  • Ilkay Gundogan Manchester City 2022-23Getty

    Ilkay Gundogan | MF | Manchester City

    Ilkay Gundogan joined Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund in 2016 and has experienced a stellar stint in the Premier League so far. The four-time Premier League champion has been extremely useful in Pep Guardiola's midfield but he could be on his way out if City do not grant him an extension to his contract, which expires in June 2023.

  • Toni Kroos Real Madrid 2022 2023Getty Images

    Toni Kroos | MF | Real Madrid

    Toni Kroos has been nothing less than a star in Real Madrid's midfield since joining the Liga club from Bayern Munich. However it looks the German midfielder's eight-year-long stay is set to end at the end of the season. Kroos will be 33 come the end of the campaign and Madrid already look to be planning for the future, with the arrival of a number of young midfielders.

  • Roberto Firmino Liverpool 2022Getty

    Roberto Firmino | CF | Liverpool

    Roberto Firmino is playing in his eighth season at Liverpool and it looks like the 2022-23 campaign may well be his last with the Reds. The Brazil star is one of the old guard at Anfield, but, despite being in his thirties, he has had a fire lit under him with the big-money arrival of Darwin Nunez. Firmino's future will ultimately depend on how Liverpool's season pans out.

  • Modric Celtic 2022-23Getty Images

    Luka Modric | MF | Real Madrid

    Luka Modric's Real Madrid contract was set to expire in 2022 but the Croatian midfielder signed a one-year contract extension in June. The current contract is set to keep the 37-year-old at Madrid until the end of the 2022-23 season but there have been suggestions that there is an option to extend the deal till 2024.

  • Naby Keita of Liverpool and Guinea.Getty.

    Naby Keita | MF | Liverpool

    Naby Keita had his season disrupted early in Liverpool's Community Shield win against Manchester City and will be playing catch-up as he seeks to justify a contract extension at Anfield. The midfielder's career with the Reds has been disappointing, with injuries taking their toll, but a strong finish to the campaign could be enough.

  • Oblak Atlético de MadridGetty Images

    Jan Oblak | GK | Atletico Madrid

    Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak has a contract with the Liga club that ends in the summer of 2023. Widely regarded as one of the best shot-stoppers in the world, there would be no shortage of suitors for his signature (Manchester United reportedly among them), but Atleti boss Diego Simeone will be keen to keep hold of his asset.

  • Zlatan Ibrahimovic AC Milan 2021-22Getty Images

    Zlatan Ibrahimovic | FW | AC Milan

    There were whispers of Zlatan Ibrahimovic retiring before the 2022-23 season began but those rumours were put to rest when the Swedish forward signed a new deal that will keep him at the club till the end of the current campaign. However, Ibrahimovic is currently recovering from a knee injury and may only return to action in 2023. It'll be interesting to see if AC Milan and the player, who will be 41 at the end of the season, decide to extend the deal.

  • Marco Reus Borussia Dortmund 2022-23Getty

    Marco Reus | MF | Borussia Dortmund

    Marco Reus previously pledged to end his career at Borussia Dortmund. However, the 33-year-old winger's contract is set to expire in the summer of 2023 after he only managed to land a one-year extension last season. Circumstances can change and the Germany veteran could surely be tempted to give somewhere else a try before he hangs up his boots.