The modern game is certainly filled with some difficult moments.
It doesn’t matter whether you are one of the biggest football clubs in the world or not, when it comes to constructing a football team, it is never easy.
Just because the Premier League is one of the most luxurious divisions in the world, it doesn’t mean English clubs can keep their best players with any longevity.
The traditional ‘Big Six’ tend to dominate above any other club, with Liverpool and Manchester City currently occupying first and second, while Chelsea and Man Utd sit fourth and fifth respectively.
But nothing is ever guaranteed in football, meaning the ‘Big Six’ need to ensure that they can keep their current squads together for as long as possible.
How realistic is that? Well, Squawka have decided to explore which ‘Big Six’ side is the most future-proof, looking into the duration of their players’ contracts and seeing how long they have left until their respective expiry dates.
Should they be worried? Read on to find out:
Average squad contract length: 2021.96
Contract expires 2020: Pablo Mari, Matt Macey, Dani Ceballos, Cedric Soares
Contract expires 2021: Sokratis, Mesut Ozil, David Luiz, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Shkodran Mustafi, Bukayo Saka
Contract expires 2022: Alexandre Lacazette, Sead Kolasinac, Emiliano Martinez, Calum Chambers, Eddie Nketiah, Matteo Guendouzi
Contract expires 2023: Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin, Rob Holding, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Lucas Torreira, Reiss Nelson, Joe Willock
Contract expires 2024: Kieran Tierney, Nicolas Pepe, Gabriel Martinelli
There will be one or two concerns on that list for Mikel Arteta, most notably to star striker and captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as well as wonderkid Bukayo Saka, who will both see their respective contracts expire next summer.
As for this summer, loanees Pablo Mari, Dani Ceballos and Cedric Soares will return to their parent clubs unless Arsenal opt to sign any of them on a permanent deal, while third-choice goalkeeper Matt Macey will also depart upon the expiration of his contract in June.
That puts Arsenal in a much stronger position than this time last year, with the Gunners losing Aaron Ramsey on a free transfer to Juventus, as well as seeing first-team squad players like Danny Welbeck and Stephan Lichtsteiner depart the Emirates — Petr Cech also retired.
Prominent members of the starting XI are tied down to more long-standing deals, including Bernd Leno, Hector Bellerin and Nicolas Pepe, but this summer will remain a precarious one for the north Londoners.
As well as Sako and Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil will also enter the last 12 months of his present deal at the end of the campaign, as too will David Luiz, Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi, leaving Arteta with three senior centre-backs with uncertain futures.
Average squad contract length: 2022.44
Contract expires 2020: Willy Caballero, Willian, Pedro, Olivier Giroud, Marco van Ginkel
Contract expires 2021: Michy Batshuayi, Danilo Pantic
Contract expires 2022: Cesar Azpilicueta, Antonio Rudiger, Emerson, Andreas Christensen, Lewis Baker, Tammy Abraham
Contract expires 2023: Jorginho, Marcos Alonso, Ross Barkley, Kurt Zouma, N’Golo Kante, Billy Gilmour
Contract expires 2024: Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Fikayo Tomori, Christian Pulisic, Mason Mount, Callum Hudson-Odoi
Contract expires 2025: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Reece James
The immediate forecast presents a few challenges for Frank Lampard, with experienced trident Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud all set to depart this summer.
Lampard has forged a strong reputation this season for mixing youth with experience, getting the best out of the club’s academy graduates by easing them into the first-team fold alongside Chelsea’s more seasoned professionals.
However, he looks set to lose three of the club’s more established forwards, as well as Willy Caballero, who has proven a solid deputy in the absence of the waning Kepa, so a rebuild job could be on the young manager’s hands this summer.
Next year presents a more favourable picture for Lampard, with Michy Batshuayi the only recognised first-teamer set to depart, so it will be a case of getting through this summer and remedying the voids of the aforementioned players — unless of course Chelsea opt to retain any of their services.
The summer of 2022 could prove a difficult one for the Blues with captain Cesar Azpilicueta, centre-back maestro Antonio Rudiger and obsessive goalscorer Tammy Abraham all seeing their present deals come to an end, but going forward the capital club are in a healthy shape.
Average squad contract length: 2022.68
Contract expires 2020: Andy Lonergan, Adam Lallana, Nathaniel Clyne
Contract expires 2021: Dejan Lovren, Adrian, Georginio Wijnaldum
Contract expires 2022: James Milner
Contract expires 2023: Jordan Henderson, Xherdan Shaqiri, Roberto Firmino, Virgil van Dijk, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Fabinho, Naby Keita, Caoimhin Kelleher
Contract expires 2024: Joel Matip, Alisson, Divock Origi, Takumi Minamino, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Curtis Jones
Liverpool have not only worked wonders on the pitch, but the club have also been working wonders off it — and continue to do so.
This summer presents no major concerns for Jurgen Klopp, with Adam Lallana the only real worry for the German, but at 31 and out-of-favour, the creative Englishman is perhaps in need of a fresh challenge to reinvigorate his own career.
Beyond that, next summer could prove problematic with Georginio Wijnaldum set to see his contract expire. The Dutchman is the only first-team regular whose current deal will run out in the next three years.
In 2022 veteran James Milner will likely leave Anfield, but he is the only one in danger of departing Merseyside. As for the big hitters, Van Dijk, Salah, et al., they all have contracts running until 2023 and beyond.
Average squad contract length: 2022.71
Contract expires 2020: David Silva, Claudio Bravo, Scott Carson
Contract expires 2021: Fernandinho, Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane
Contract expires 2022: Nicolas Otamendi, Mix Diskerud, John Stones, Eric Garcia
Contract expires 2023: Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Benjamin Mendy, Riyad Mahrez, Gabriel Jesus
Contract expires 2024: Kyle Walker, Oleksandr Zinchenko, Rodri, Phil Foden
Contract expires 2025: Aymeric Laporte, Joao Cancelo, Ederson, Bernardo Silva
Of course, Man City will lose playmaker grandmaster David Silva this summer, which will be a huge blow to, not only the club, but also the Premier League.
However, Pep Guardiola needn’t fear too much, as the man earmarked to succeed the Spanish genius, Phil Foden, has a contract until 2024.
This summer will be an interesting one if you’re a City fan, as Sergio Aguero enters his final year, as does Leroy Sane.
The German has been injured for much of the campaign but has been consistently linked with a move to Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich.
With the incisive winger entering his last 12 months this summer, the Bavarians are likely to renew their interest, which could make for a riveting transfer saga.
Fernandinho also enters his last year, so Guardiola will likely be in the market for a versatile anchorman of the Brazilian’s ilk, though that will not be easy to find.
Other than that the reigning Premier League champions are in pretty good shape, with four players boasting contracts lasting until 2025, including Laporte, Ederson and Bernardo Silva.
Average squad contract length: 2022.46
Contract expires 2020: Odion Ighalo, Timothy Fosu-Mensah
Contract expires 2021: Lee Grant, Sergio Romero, Juan Mata, Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Nemanja Matic
Contract expires 2022: Eric Bailly, Tahith Chong, Brandon Williams
Contract expires 2023: David de Gea, Phil Jones, Luke Shaw, Fred, Andreas Pereira, Marcus Rashford, Scott McTominay, Diogo Dalot, Mason Greenwood
Contract expires 2024: Anthony Martial, Victor Lindelof, Daniel James, Aaron Wan-Bissaka
Contract expires 2025: Harry Maguire, Bruno Fernandes
Following the resurgence of Matic, Manchester United were quick to trigger his one-year contract extension, and the club may well look to extend his stay beyond summer 2021.
Ighalo has also made himself something of a cult hero during his embryonic days in a Red Devil jersey, with four goals in eight games, so Ole Gunnar Solskjaer could be tempted to make his temporary stint a permanent one in the summer.
And just like Sane for City, Man Utd could have a dilemma on their hands with one of their major assets in Paul Pogba. The Frenchman has seen his name heavily associated with a move to Real Madrid over the years and that interest is likely to reignite this summer.
Pogba will enter the last year of his contract at the end of the season, so the summer window will certainly be an interesting one, to say the least. Lingard will also enter the last year of his contract, as too will Grant and Romero, meaning the club may be eyeing up backup ‘keepers.
Average squad contract length: 2022.75
Contract expires 2020: Michel Vorm, Jan Vertonghen, Japhet Tanganga
Contract expires 2021: Eric Dier, Gedson Fernandes, Oliver Skipp
Contract expires 2022: Hugo Lloris, Erik Lamela, Serge Aurier, Paulo Gazzaniga, Juan Foyth
Contract expires 2023: Toby Alderweireld, Moussa Sissoko, Heung-min Son
Contract expires 2024: Lucas Moura, Harry Kane, Ben Davies, Dele Alli, Harry Winks, Davinson Sanchez
Contract expires 2025: Steven Bergwijn, Giovani Lo Celso, Ryan Sessegnon, Tanguy Ndombele
Worryingly for Spurs, Vertonghen looks set to leave this summer, with the Belgian yet to extend his present contract, though, at 32, some fans may point to his ageing legs as a reason to part ways.
Next summer could also see midfield duo Dier and Skipp move on to pastures new, while Fernandes will see his 18-month loan deal from Benfica come to an end; the Portuguese youngster is yet to justify a permanent deal under Jose Mourinho.
Further forward, Lloris, Lamela and Aurier are the only real concerns for 2022, putting Spurs in a strong position, with the likes of Kane, Alli, Bergwijn and Lo Celso all set to remain at the club until at least 2024.