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Football

Messi, Ronaldo and eight huge stars out of contract next summer

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Both Messi and Ronaldo are set to become free agents in 2023; Photo/CODE Sports
  • When a player only has one year left on their contract and no intention of signing a new deal, they are often available for cut-price transfers
  • Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, and Cristiano Ronaldo are set to become free agents in 2023.

Free transfers are becoming more common in football as stars choose to run their contracts down and hold out for higher salaries.

Some of the biggest names in football including Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski, and Cristiano Ronaldo are currently set to become free agents in 2023.

When a player only has one year left on their contract and no intention of signing a new deal, they are often available for cut-price transfers, and clubs around Europe will be keeping an eye on the men listed below.

We’ve picked some top players who have entered the final 12 months of their contract with their deals set to expire in the summer of 2023, and looked at whether they might move on in the next two summers or sign an extension.

1. Lionel Messi

Messi signed a two-year deal when he made his shock transfer to PSG last summer and does not look likely to extend that after what was a fairly difficult first season in France.

There is always the possibility that Messi returns to Barcelona once his PSG deal expires, but a new contract in Paris is not currently on Messi’s mind.

“I don’t know what I will do after the World Cup. I am thinking about what is coming. After Qatar, I will have to reassess many things,” the 35-year-old told reporters back in March.

2. Robert Lewandowski

The prolific Bayern Munich striker is still operating at a very high level, but with just one year left on his deal, Lewandowski is reportedly interested in a move to Barcelona.

Whether Bayern decides to cash in now rather than losing one of their best-ever strikers for free will depend on their ability to command a sizeable fee this summer. Whatever happens next, it appears bridges have been burned and he won’t be extending his stay.

With 50 goals in 46 appearances last season, it’s no surprise that Barcelona is so desperate for his signature.

3. Cristiano Ronaldo

Ronaldo’s shock return to Old Trafford has not been the fairytale story that was on the cards when he moved from Juventus last summer.

Despite performing well and scoring 24 goals, United finished a fifth consecutive year without silverware and missed out on Champions League football for next season and that is reportedly why he’s keen to jump ship this summer.

The 37-year-old penned a two-year deal on his return to Manchester, but it remains to be seen what the future holds for Ronaldo whilst United undergoes a rebuild under Erik ten Hag.

4. N’Golo Kante

Everyone’s favorite Chelsea midfielder, the Frenchman is still a key player for Thomas Tuchel’s side, and the club will not want to lose a fan favorite cheaply.

Arsenal links to Chelsea star N'Golo Kante quashed and 'no proposal' for  Lille winger Edon Zhegrova

N’Golo Kante is everyone’s favorite Chelsea midfielder; Photo/ESPN

Whilst Chelsea’s new direction is up in the air under their new ownership, they will be encouraged that he has shown no indication that he wants to leave the club.

He’s got plenty left in the tank. But will he be plying his trade elsewhere come 2023?

5. Riyad Mahrez

The 31-year-old winger has been inspired at Manchester City, and 24 goals last term was his best return yet.

Mahrez is a popular figure at the Etihad Stadium and is reportedly close to signing a new contract that will keep him at the club beyond 2023.

The Algerian joined City from Leicester in 2017 and has played an integral part in winning countless trophies under Pep Guardiola.

6. Roberto Firmino

Up until recently, all three members of Liverpool’s famous old trident were free to leave next summer.

But Sadio Mane has since departed in a £27million switch to Bayern Munich, while after long, protracted talks, Mohamed Salah has extended his stay at Anfield to 2025.

Roberto Firmino fires Liverpool to Club World Cup win | Sports | German  football and major international sports news | DW | 21.12.2019

Roberto Firmino’s contract expires in 2023; Photo/DW

That leaves Firmino as the last loose end to tie up. The Brazilian has been a key player under Jurgen Klopp, but increasingly peripheral following the arrivals of Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, and now Darwin Nunez.

There are no suggestions the forward will leave this summer, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see him depart on free in a year’s time.

7. Marcus Rashford

The Manchester United forward endured a nightmare 2021-22 season, attracting criticism for his poor performances as United finished an underwhelming sixth in the table.

Rashford looks more likely to leave than sign a new deal with the club, and a fresh start to revive his career could be what he needs – but perhaps he’ll find that at a revitalized United with Erik ten Hag at the helm.

With the World Cup coming up in December, Rashford will need to rediscover his form or risk losing his spot on the plane, and a move may be the best way to force his way into Gareth Southgate’s plans.

His current deal expires in 2023, but there is also a one-year option that can be triggered to extend it for another 12 months.

8. Serge Gnabry

The German winger has been a star at Bayern Munich since his arrival in 2018, but contract talks stalled, and the 27-year-old may well be on the move this summer if the situation can’t be resolved.

Gnabry has often spoken about his affection for Arsenal, where he came through the academy, and a potential return to north London could be on the cards.

Unfortunately for Arsenal, and fortunately for the Bavarians, reports from Germany suggest a breakthrough for a new deal at the Allianz Arena could soon be reached. Kicker report the club is confident that Gnabry will remain at the club past 2023.

Elias Makokha is a professional Media Practitioner venturing into Corporate Communications, Radio Broadcast and Digital content creation with a keen interest in videography, photography and online Writing. He works well individually and collaboratively with his juniors, peers and seniors. He adheres to the hallmarks of journalism and accurately reports by conducting fact checks from reputable sources before publishing.

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