Football Features

Players who are free to talk to clubs from other leagues this month

By Harry Edwards

Published: 18:50, 26 January 2022

The January transfer window is nearing it’s conclusion so there is still time to bring in any last-minute recruits.

Of course, it’s not just immediate moves that will be on the cards, though. As we’re into January, players whose current deals are set to expire in the summer are now available to talk to clubs from other leagues and agree pre-contracts.

And this month there are quite a few BIG names who could be free to talk to whomever they please. We’ve picked out some of the most notable, including a few whose contract details may have slipped under the radar.

1. Paul Pogba

Club: Manchester United

Paul Pogba signed a six-year contract when he re-joined Man Utd in 2016 and he has finally entered the final six months of that deal. The Frenchman has had good and bad times at Old Trafford but remains a quality player when fit and loved, as shown by his seven assists in four appearances at the start of the 2021/22 Premier League campaign.

He recently returned to training after a protracted stint on the sidelines with a thigh injury, and interim manager Ralf Rangnick said only last week that the midfielder may be driven to perform to put himself in the shop window over the coming months.

He said: “He wants to show the whole world what kind of player he can be, even if it’s for only showing up for a new contract elsewhere, he will be highly motivated to do that.”

2. Franck Kessie

Club: AC Milan

Franck Kessie has quietly become one of the top midfielders in Europe right now and he could be on the move soon with AC Milan unable to secure him on a new deal. The Ivorian only joined AC Milan in 2017 on an initial loan move from Atalanta, but has played 205 times for the club and will be on the radar of a number of European clubs.

3. Ousmane Dembele

Club: Barcelona

Things just haven’t worked out for Ousmane Dembele at Barcelona due to a variety of reasons including injury problems. The Frenchman was meant to be the next big thing when he joined from Borussia Dortmund in 2017 and the potential is still there. It may just be a case of Dembele moving elsewhere to finally realise his potential.

And a move could be on the cards this month after Barca’s director of football Mateu Alemany told reporters that the winger must leave the club with “immediate” effect after he rejected their latest contract offer.

“We told him and his agents that he must leave the club immediately because we want to have players committed to the project,” he said.

“We expect a transfer to take place before January 31. The sporting consequence is that we don’t want to have players who don’t want to be at Barca.”

Dembele ultimately hit back in the wake of Alemany’s comments. The Frenchman took to social media to say that contract talks remain “ongoing”, and he will be available to play for Barca should Xavi need him.

Dembele wrote on his Instagram: “Don’t think I’m out of the project. Don’t speak of intentions I never had.

“I have a contract and I’m available for Xavi. I’m not gonna give up.

“There are contract talks ongoing. My agent is on it – I’m only focusing on the pitch.”

4. Antonio Rudiger

Club: Chelsea

Antonio Rudiger is one of four defenders Chelsea are in danger of losing in the summer due to their contract running out, and he could be their biggest miss and most popular name in the market. The German is at the peak of his game, helping Chelsea win the Champions League in May and having also made a quick start to the season, before injuries hampered Thomas Tuchel’s defence. And he’s catching the eye of a lot of clubs according to reports, including Real Madrid.

5. Niklas Sule

Club: Bayern Munich

Not too long ago it felt as though Niklas Sule would be signing a new deal with Bayern Munich, but now, he appears to be off. The German has been at Bayern for almost five years, signing from Hoffenheim in 2017 and has featured 155 times, helping them dominate the Bundesliga and win the Champions League. Bayern CEO Oliver Kahn recently confirmed Sule will leave at the end of the season.

“The negotiations with Niklas dragged on for a very long time. We made him an offer. He didn’t accept it. He wants to leave the club at the end of the season,” Kahn said.

“We have a certain responsibility when it comes to the offers. We have to stick to certain financial conditions. It’s normal in this business that you’ll not always reach an agreement.”

6. Andrea Belotti

Club: Torino

Andrea Belotti was once one of the most popular strikers in Europe, outside of the big names, and he remains a top goalscorer in Serie A. Now he could be on his way out of Torino, with club president Urbano Cairo saying in December: “I don’t see big chances to extend his contract, but we’ll see.”

7. Denis Zakaria

Club: Borussia Monchengladbach

Denis Zakaria is another player once linked with a big transfer away from his club and the Swiss midfielder could be on the move soon. He is still a player with bags of quality despite playing in a struggling Gladbach side, and the likes of Liverpool, Juventus and Barcelona are all being credited with interest in his signing.

8. Andrej Kramaric

Club: Hoffenheim

Andrej Kramaric did not enjoy his time in the Premier League with Leicester but since joining Hoffenheim in 2016, the Croatian striker has been on fire. He has 99 goals in 202 games for Hoffenheim across all competitions, but the German club could be losing Kramaric soon with no signs of a new deal right now.

9. Noussair Mazraoui

Club: Ajax

Ajax are known for producing quality players and Noussair Mazraoui is just the latest of a long list of stars. But he could also be the latest of a long list of players produced by Ajax to leave the club before their peak. The Moroccan full-back is out of contract in the summer and has been tipped to leave Amsterdam either for a fee in January or for free at the end of the season, with the defender himself saying there’s only a “5%” chance he stays.

When quizzed by Dutch media on were he will be next season, Mazraoui responded: “That’s a good question.

“I think the chances of me remaining at Ajax are very small, maybe 5%.

“I am open for something new, I have played here for 16 years and I think it’s a good moment to leave.”

10. Jason Denayer

Club: Lyon

It really is centre-back season this year with Jason Denayer another player who would be available to talk with other clubs over a free move in January. After spells with Galatasaray and Lyon, the Belgian has become a top defender and at the age of 26 is still yet to hit the peak of his game. And this is a known fact around Europe, with the likes of Newcastle, AC Milan and Real Madrid being linked with a January move for Denayer.

11. Ivan Perisic

Club: Inter Milan

Ivan Perisic has been at Inter Milan for almost seven years now but it appears his time at the club is finally nearing its end. He now has just six months left on his contract and may want to look elsewhere as his career winds down, though Perisic isn’t worrying too much about his future right now. “We haven’t talked, we still have six months,” he said of his contract with Inter.

“We’ll see.”

12. Federico Bernardeschi

Club: Juventus

Federico Bernardeschi is perhaps an under-appreciated name at Juventus, certainly among those who don’t follow the club week-in-week-out. But he may get a move away from the Italian giants as his contract is set to run out in the summer. The Italian, who played four games for the Azzurri at Euro 2020, is currently being linked with a move to Barcelona – who would certainly be looking for free transfers given their financial situation.

13. Corentin Tolisso

Club: Bayern

Another big central midfield name who could be available for a free move is Corentin Tolisso, who has really struggled at Bayern Munich since joining in 2017. It hasn’t been his fault though, with Tolisso struggling from injury problems, and the quality is certainly still there for someone to sign in the summer.

14. Kylian Mbappe

Club: PSG

One bonus name as all signs point to a contract renewal, including a cheeky picture with teammates for his birthday, but if he wanted to, Kylian Mbappe could start talks for a free transfer in January. Who wouldn’t want to sign one of the best players in the world on a free transfer?

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