The January transfer window is open, with clubs around Europe looking to bolster their squads for the second half of the season. But many teams will also be planning ahead for 2021-22, especially when there are so many high-profile players who are set to become free agents. These six stars are now free to discuss terms with other clubs – but where will they move? Here are six huge players who are out of contract in the summer of 2021.
Six out of contract players in 2021
Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
Messi failed to force his way out of Barcelona last year, but the club is now powerless to prevent the Argentina icon from leaving at the end of his contract. It is not out of the question that Messi performs a U-turn and opts to commit to Barcelona again. Much is likely to depend on the outcome of Barca’s upcoming presidential elections, with Josep Maria Bartomeu having finally bowed to overwhelming pressure to resign last October.
Despite Pep Guardiola regularly saying he believes Messi should end his career at Camp Nou, Manchester City would be an obvious landing spot for the 33-year-old. Neymar has also told the media he wants to play with Messi again, with Paris Saint-Germain a potential destination.
Messi himself has indicated a desire to experience life in MLS, while he previously claimed he wanted to finish his playing days in his homeland with Newell’s. The future of Messi is sure to be one of sport’s biggest stories for the first half of 2021. Arguably the greatest player of all time understandably leads our list of out of contract players in 2021.
Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
Another La Liga icon who could be on the move to pastures new is Ramos, who has reportedly turned down an offer of a one-year contract to extend his time at Real Madrid. The captain has led Madrid to four Champions League titles and five La Liga crowns since signing from Sevilla back in 2005.
Manchester City have denied planning a move for Ramos with their back line having been solidified by the signing of Ruben Dias. But if Ramos were to become available on a free transfer, there would be a long list of interested parties trying to sign the 34-year-old.
Madrid team-mate Luka Modric is also due to become a free agent, but reports in Spain indicate an agreement has been reached with the former Ballon d’Or winner on a new one-year deal.
Mesut Ozil (Arsenal)
The unhappy saga of Ozil’s time at Arsenal is finally set to come to a conclusion this year, when the midfielder’s lucrative contract at Emirates Stadium expires.
Despite having been forced to the fringes by Mikel Arteta – who left Ozil out of both Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads – the ex-Germany international has regularly insisted he will not leave the club before his contract runs out.
And why would he? Ozil earns a reported £350,000 at Arsenal, wages that no other club would be willing to match for the 32-year-old. Ozil’s agent says many clubs are interested in his client and it will be fascinating to watch the next chapter of his career, with some sources claiming a deal with Fenerbahce is close..
Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)
City’s record goalscorer could be moving on this year, with talk surrounding a potential new contract for Aguero having gone quiet of late. Injuries have restricted Aguero to just five Premier League appearances this season – only two of them starts – and he last scored in the competition nearly a year ago.
Like Messi, Aguero has often talked about returning to Argentina to finish his career, but he will turn 33 over the summer and it is surely still too early to consider such a move. Should Messi pitch up at the Etihad after all, it may prove irresistible to pair the countrymen together for a Chicago Bulls/Michael Jordan-style Last Dance. Despite his injury record, Aguero will be one of the most in demand out of contract players in 2021 should be decide to leave.
Gianluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
Goalkeeper Donnarumma is carrying out talks over a new deal with the Rossoneri, but if no agreement can be reached he will be in huge demand.
It feels as though Donnarumma has been around for many years but the Italy goalkeeper is still just 21 years old – he could be a club’s number one for more than a decade.
Chelsea are said to be keen on bringing in Donnarumma on a free transfer despite landing Eduoard Mendy from Rennes last year, while Inter Milan and Juventus could both offer the goalkeeper the chance to stay in Serie A.
As Donnarumma is represented by agent Mino Raiola, he is sure to demand very high wages – this is a saga that could be right to the wire.
David Alaba (Bayern Munich)
Last on our list of out of contract players in 2021 is Alaba, with the versatile Austria international seemingly certain to leave Bayern after helping the Bundesliga giants to win the treble last season.
Madrid are thought to be front-runners for the 28-year-old, who has developed into one of the world’s best centre-backs having previously mostly played at left-back. Alaba would potentially replace Ramos at the Santiago Bernabeu if the captain does not renew his contract.
Liverpool have reportedly also joined the race for Alaba, having signed his team-mate Thiago Alcantara from Bayern last summer. Should Alaba opt for Anfield, it could help to make up for the expected loss of Georginio Wijnaldum, who is out of contract at Liverpool in 2021 and has been linked with Barcelona. He could thrive in the Premier League however, should he opt to move to England.