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SOME of football’s biggest names will be able to agree to join which ever club they want next month – and there is not a thing their current sides can do to stop them.
Kylian Mbappe is the star name at the top of the free transfer listCredit: Splash
Gareth Bale is set to end his spell at Real Madrid and leave for freeCredit: Getty
They would NOT move to their new club until the summer, but there would be no transfer fee.
An astonishing 539 players from Europe’s top five leagues are entering the last six months of their current contracts, meaning they can agree free transfers abroad on the first day of the New Year.
Players moving for nothing is not something new, but few years have seen such a stellar cast of talent who are counting down the days until they become free agents at the end of the season.
Which leaves some of the biggest clubs desperately trying to wrap up contract talks or spending the next month hawking the players around in the hope of at least getting a small fee for assets they will lose without a fee in the summer.
Sam Johnstone (West Brom)
England’s number three keeper has a host of admirers in the Premier League having chosen to run down his contract at the Hawthorns.
Tottenham and West Ham are among those keen to land the stopper.
Hugo Lloris (Tottenham)
The veteran French keeper will mark his tenth year in North London in 2022 but neither club or player have decided if he will stay on for longer.
Lloris has interest from several European clubs.
Hugo Lloris has been at Spurs since 2012Credit: Rex
Andreas Christensen (Chelsea)
The Champions League winner finally established himself over the last 18 months but the club have not come up with a deal he feels matches his standing in the game.
Both sides currently in a stand-off, the Blues are hoping a change of agents by the player may break the deadlock.
Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Emerged has an inspirational figure at Stamford Bridge, but has a major offer on the table from Real Madrid as well as interest from Bayern Munich and feeling at Chelsea is he wants out having rejected contract offers.
Antonio Rudiger is listening to offers from Bayern Munich and Real MadridCredit: Rex
Thiago Silva (Chelsea)
Veteran defender may be 37 now but shows his class every time he plays.
He seems settled in West London but the fact no new deal is signed is causing concern among fans.
James Tarkowski (Burnley)
A big target of Newcastle as they seek to avoid the drop, but Burnley have to decide if £10million now is better than the gamble of losing over £100m if they themselves get relegated.
An obvious choice for clubs looking to bring a rugged Premier League defender.
Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
In and out the side under Thomas Tuchel, he is the least important for Chelsea to tie down to a new deal with emergence of Reece James.
Still has Barcelona interested in him though.
Paul Pogba (Man Utd)
United stand to be major losers having forked out £89million to sign Frenchman but after talks over a new deal reached stalement, agent Mino Raiola is touting him round.
Divisive figure at Old Trafford, but PSG and Juventus would love him on a free in the summer and United look destined to give up battle to keep him.
Paul Pogba has enjoyed mixed fortunes on his return to Man UtdCredit: EPA
Franck Kessie has become a star in midfield for AC MilanCredit: Getty
Boubacar Kamara (Marseille)
Impressive young defensive midfielder watched by some of the biggest clubs in Europe, including United and Chelsea.
One of the best free agents around, Newcastle may try to offer big money to land him in January as others wait until the summer.
Axel Witsel (Dortmund)
Approaching the veteran stage at 32, but the midfielder has been at top level for club and Belgian for years and still has a good three years left in the tank.
Franck Kessie (AC Milan)
Ivory Coast star has long been highly regarded and has told Milan he wants out.
Tottenham lead the race for his signature in a deal that could be done next month ahead of the summer.
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
Class remains though the ability to get round the pitch may not be the same.
Former world player of the year would still be a catch for someone if he decides to extends his career.
Gareth Bale (Real Madrid)
Once one of the best in the world, the last few years have been ruined by injury.
Few takers could come close to matching his £650,000-a-week wages and the big decision for the Welshman is to play on or retire at the age of 32.
Kylian Mbappe (PSG)
One of biggest stars in world football, has so far rejected six new contract offers from PSG and has heart set on Real Madrid.
PSG rejected £200m offer from Real last summer – will go for mere compensation next summer and a deal could be signed in Janaury.
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Kylian Mbappe has set his heart on a move to Real Madrid in the summerCredit: Getty
Juventus star Paulo Dybala has attracted plenty of interest from the Premier LeagueCredit: AP
Paulo Dybala (Juventus)
A target for Manchester United and Tottenham in the past, his days at Juve finally look numbered.
Argentine has talent to burn but has not reached heights expected when he burst onto the scene as a youngsters.
Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona)
Linked with virtually every club in Europe, French ace has talent to burn but is constantly let down by his body.
Still won’t be short of offers, a worth a gamble if you are signing a £135m footballer for nothing.
Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli)
One of Italy’s Euro 2020 heroes has offers from across Europe but also the MLS. Napoli have failed in repeated attempts to tie him down to a new deal.
How a free XI could line up
Andrea Belotti (Torino)
As committed a forward as they come, and at 28 is in the peak of his career. Torino may want to cash in next month to at least get some money for the European champion.
Alexandre Lacazette (Arsenal)
In a state of limbo at Emirates having started season expecting it to be last but suddenly emerging as the influential captain of a young team.
Gunners have to make a decision quickly or striker will walk out door and cause more uncertainty in Mikel Arteta’s dressing room.
Jesse Lingard (Man Utd)
Brilliant at West Ham on loan last season but returned to be a forgotten man at Old Trafford.
Down to him now whether he wants out mid-season to keep World Cup dreams alive, or wait until summer where he will have choice of several bigger contracts.
Divock Origi (Liverpool)
Even Jurgen Klopp cannot believe Belgian has stayed at Anfield so long. Top talent but needs regular games.
Liverpool would sell in January if the right offer came in – West Ham have him in their sights.