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Out of contract in 2020: Football's best free agents at the end of the season

17:00 GMT 13/01/2020
Out of Contract 2020
Some of Europe's greats are into the final year of their contracts and there are some huge names who could leave for free this summer

Signing a player on a free transfer is a cost-effective way of recruitment and there will be plenty of bargain players available for no fee in the summer of 2020.

As fans of the popular Football Manager game will know, assessing the players whose contracts are nearly expired is an essential practice ahead of the transfer window opening.

And those whose deals are running down come in all shapes and sizes - from wizened veterans to disgruntled stars entering their prime.

Goal takes a look at the players who will be available to sign for free once their contracts expire.

  • Luka Modric Real Madrid 2019-20

    Luka Modric | MF | Real Madrid

    After a hugely successful 2018, in which he lifted a third consecutive Champions League trophy with Real Madrid, led his Croatia side to the final of the World Cup and picked up the Ballon d’Or ahead of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric's star has faded.

    Los Blancos have struggled to regain their dominance in Europe and they look set for period of transition – with older players shuffled out and newer ones introduced. Modric still remains a huge asset as a player though, with the likes of the Milan clubs reportedly interested in the midfielder should he not sign a fresh deal.

  • Christian Eriksen Tottenham

    Christian Eriksen | MF | Tottenham

    Tottenham star Christian Eriksen spoke publicly of his desire to seek a fresh challenge away from north London after his side’s Champions League final loss to Liverpool last June, with Real Madrid reportedly interested.

    He failed to realise his move in the summer, however, and it seems unlikely he will renew his deal at Tottenham. He could then leave the club for free in the summer – and being one of Europe’s best midfielders is sure to catch the eye of several clubs, Inter believed to be among them.

  • David Silva Manchester City 2019-20

    David Silva | MF | Man City

    A stalwart for City since his arrival in 2010, David Silva has lifted almost every piece of silverware under the sun at the Etihad. But, despite his role in the squad, he is expected to leave on a free transfer once his contract runs out in the summer, marking 10 years at the club.

    Inter Miami have expressed interest in the midfielder, while he also has been linked to clubs in Japan and Qatar – though it is understood that he won’t make a decision until the season finishes.

  • Edinson Cavani PSG 2019-20

    Edinson Cavani | FW | PSG

    Flanked by Kylian Mbappe and Neymar on either side of him at Paris Saint-Germain, Edinson Cavani is still one of the more under-rated forwards in Europe. He bagged 23 goals for the French giants in 2018-19, and has reportedly attracted the interest of Juventus should he run his contract out – with Thomas Tuchel admitting that he is uncertain of his future in Paris.

    "It's too soon to speak about such [contract] things,” he said in October. “I'm sure Edi is speaking with the club. He knows it's his club. I don’t know Edi’s ideas exactly at the moment.”

  • Willian Chelsea 2019-20

    Willian | FW | Chelsea

    Brazil international Willian has been a Blues mainstay since his arrival in 2013, but at 31, could be headed away from Stamford Bridge at the end of the season - with his former Shakhtar Donetsk manager Mircea Lucescu putting him forward for a move to Juventus.

  • Jan Vertonghen Tottenham 2019-20

    Jan Vertonghen | DF | Tottenham

    Jan Vertonghen is another of Spurs' players likely to leave on free transfer this summer. The defender missed out on a chunk of the start of the season due to injury, but when he revealed that he had been fit, rumours of a reported rift between himself and Mauricio Pochettino swirled.

    "No, no, no – I came back fit. I played in every pre-season game and I didn't miss a [training] session," he said.

    "Like the manager explained before the first game against Villa, it was a tactical decision and I respect that decision. We players have to accept his decisions. I'm very, very happy to be back."

  • Pedro Rodriguez, Chelsea

    Pedro | FW | Chelsea

    Pedro extended his contract with Chelsea in 2018, keeping him at the club until 2020.

    At 32 years of age, however, he might move on from west London, with Frank Lampard keen to prioritise younger talents in his Chelsea side, focusing on developing the likes of Tammy Abraham and Mason Mount.

  • Fernandinho Manchester City 2019-20

    Fernandinho | MF | Man City

    Though reports in the summer stated that Fernandinho would be offered an extension to his contract at Man City, it is understood that Rodri is viewed as his potential long-term replacement.

    At 34 years old, the Brazil international is still a vital player for his squad, but could be asked to move on in favour of fresher talents.

  • Olivier Giroud Chelsea

    Olivier Giroud | FW | Chelsea

    France international Olivier Giroud signed a contract extension in May 2019 that will keep him at the club until 2020, though as he now approaches the end of his deal, looks likely to leave London in the summer.

    Giroud joined Chelsea from Arsenal in 2018 and has already lifted the FA Cup and Europa League. Having been delegated to the second string by Lampard this season, Giroud has reportedly struck the interest of Inter.

  • Mario Gotze Dortmund

    Mario Gotze | MF | Borussia Dortmund

    Mario Gotze's role at Borussia Dortmund has diminished for a couple of years now and, with his contract winding down, he could seek a move elsewhere for a fresh challenge in order to reignite his career.

    At just 27, the midfielder still has great potential to excel elsewhere (he did score the winning goal in a World Cup final for Germany once upon a time after all) as he approaches his prime.

  • Giorgio Chiellini Juventus 2019-20

    Giorgio Chiellini | DF | Juventus

    Juventus legend Giorgio Chiellini is in his final year of his contract at the club, his career winding down at 35 years of age after winning title after title with the Serie A giants.

    A cruciate ligament rupture kept him out of the opening half of the season, but he could return for his final few months at the Turin club before potentially leaving in the summer.

  • Blaise Matuidi

    Blaise Matuidi | MF | Juventus

    Impressive midfielder Blaise Matuidi has entered the last six months of his contract, though reports have suggested that the Turin side are keen on tying the France international down for another year until 2021.

  • Jurgen Klopp Adam Lallana Liverpool 2019-20

    Adam Lallana | MF | Liverpool

    Injuries have blighted Adam Lallana’s career and with the Reds having a surplus of talented competition in midfield – Jordan Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Xherdan Shaqiri – he has found opportunities at Anfield limited.

    An upturn of form, however, might reignite his career on Merseyside, with his current contract having an option for a one-year extension.

  • Dries Mertens Napoli 2019-20

    Dries Mertens | FW | Napoli

    Dries Mertens has potentially put several clubs on high alert when he kept his future vague, telling Voetbal Sport/Magazine in October: “Here at Napoli, I still have seven months left on my contract. I don't know where I'll be playing next season.

    “At the end of this year, I'll assess whether to renew my contract or not, but it's still too early. I'm not in a position to rule anything out.”

    Though he turns 32 in May, his form is consistently impressive for Napoli and he could be set to be available for free.

  • Thomas Meunier PSG 2019

    Thomas Meunier | RB | PSG

    PSG defender Thomas Meunier has already been the target of several clubs despite being in and out of the first team in 2018-19.

    He even came close to signing for Everton in the summer, revealing: “I could have signed with Everton. I would have played a lot, that’s for sure, and had a lot of fun too.”

    However, he has since stated that his mind was always set on the Ligue 1 giants: "I have always made it clear that my ambition was to stay with PSG. I did not want to leave."

  • Thiago Silva PSG

    Thiago Silva | CB | PSG

    At 35, Thiago Silva remains one of the best centre-backs in Ligue 1, but this season could be his last at Parc des Princes. His form has been exceedingly consistent during his time in Paris, showing no signs of slowing down.

    Though he has been optimistic of having a few years ahead of him still, he has previously made clear his desires of finishing out his career in Paris – so could he hang up his boots once this campaign finishes?

    “I would like to finish my career in Paris, but it will depend on how this season ends,” said the Brazil captain.

  • Eric Bailly Manchester United 2018-19

    Eric Bailly | DF | Man Utd

    It’s been an injury-ravaged year for Eric Bailly, who suffered a knee injury against Tottenham in a pre-season friendly in China, leading him to have surgery.

    He missed out on a large portion of the 2018-19 season due to knee problems and has only recently begun his on-field return to action. With the Ivory Coast international already having spent so much time on the sidelines for Man Utd, he might be soon headed out of Old Trafford.