Despite the new 2021-22 Premier League season being just seven games in, clubs all around the country will already be working on their recruitment plans ahead of next summer.
With several top players set to see their current contracts expire within the next 12-months, come January 2022, those players will be able to discuss the possibility of agreeing a pre-contract with foreign clubs.
Therefore, deciding on which players to open contract extension talks with, which ones to offload in January and which ones to let go next summer, for free, will be high on many clubs’ winter agendas.
Ahead of the New Year, CaughtOffside has looked at some of the best players who are currently facing uncertain futures.
GK: Hugo Lloris – Tottenham Hotspur
Lloris, 34, is out of contract with Tottenham Hotspur next summer and although there is very little talk of talks regarding a new deal, Spurs may be wise to tie the veteran goalkeeper down on a new deal.
With the likes of Harry Kane publicly preferring to move on (as per The Overlap), seeing their French 2018 World Cup-winning number one extend his stay could prove to be as positive as bringing in a fresh face.
However, should Daniel Levy decide to put his experienced goalkeeper on the winter market, according to Transfermarkt, he is valued at just over £8m.
Since joining the club nearly 10-years-ago, Lloris has featured in 380 matches, in all competitions, keeping 129 clean sheets, along the way.
CB: Cesar Azpilicueta – Chelsea
Skipper Cesar Azpilicueta is the first of a trio of Chelsea defenders to make up our best Premier League starting 11 of soon-to-be free agents.
The Spanish veteran, now aged 32, is into the 10th year of his Chelsea career.
Having featured in all of the Blues’ opening seven domestic matches, as well as twice in the Champions League, it is going to be hard to foresee a scenario where manager Thomas Tuchel would be happy to see the back of the 32-year-old.
However, should the Londoners surprise fans and opt to bid farewell to the Spaniard once the January window opens, Transfermarkt estimates they could recoup around £11m for his services.
CB: Andreas Christensen – Chelsea
In addition to Azpilecueta, teammate Andreas Christensen, 25, is also facing an uncertain future.
Despite featuring slightly less than the side’s captain, the Denmark international does still continue to play a major role in Tuchel’s first-team plans.
Added to the fact the Blues sold Kurt Zouma to West Ham United earlier this summer, Christensen’s inclusion in the Blues’ matchday squads have become even more vital.
Failure to extend the 25-year-old’s deal would likely mean Chelsea’s hierarchy have no choice but to put the centre-back up for sale in the coming months, and according to Transfermarkt, they could demand as much as £31.5m for him.
CB: Antonio Rudiger – Chelsea
The final Chelsea name to make our list is Germany’s Antonio Rudiger, 28.
Despite arguably enjoying the best 12-months of his career, Rudiger’s long-term future is desperately uncertain and after being linked with a summer switch to the likes of Barcelona (Mundo Deportivo), the next couple of months are going to prove decisive.
Should Chelsea fail to get their pacey centre-back to pen a new deal, Rudiger, similarly to Christensen, is also valued at £31.5m by Transfermarkt and that could very well force the Blues’ hand when it comes to the winter window.
RWB: Calum Chambers – Arsenal
English defender Calum Chambers, 26, is the first of three Arsenal players to make our list.
With his deal set to expire next summer, the 26-year-old is facing a decision over whether or not to sound out a new challenge.
Having featured in just two Premier League matches, so far this season, the Englishman could very well be forced to instruct his representatives to find him a new club.
Should Arsenal be considering the same outcome, they could hope to secure as much as £10m (Transfermarkt) once the January window opens.
LWB: Jeffrey Schlupp – Crystal Palace
With the Eagles now under new management following Patrick Viera’s appointment earlier this summer, resolving the future of Jeffrey Schlupp, 28, will likely be something fans can expect to see happen before the New Year.
Despite being somewhat of a fringe player under previous managers, the fast-paced Ghanian has surprisingly featured quite frequently under Viera.
His manager’s apparent trust could prompt the club to offer him a new deal, however, should they opt to see the back of him, as valued by Transfermarkt, Palace could sanction a winter move worth around £8m.
CM: Mohamed Elneny – Arsenal
Having started in just 17 Premier League matches since the start of last season, Elneny, 29, is one of the likeliest players on our list to depart their current clubs.
Although it is clear Elneny is not part of Mikel Arteta’s long-term plans, the recent injury to Granit Xhaka, understood to rule him out until 2022 (Arsenal’s official website), could very well force the Gunners to retain the Egyptian until his deal expires next summer.
According to Transfermarkt, the 29-year-old midfielder is currently valued at just £9m.
CM: Paul Pogba – Manchester United
Undeniably the biggest name on our list is Manchester United and France superstar Paul Pogba.
The United-faithful have been sweating over the future of Pogba, 28, for quite some time.
Heavily linked with a move back to former club Juventus, as well as to the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid (Don Balon), next summer could very well see the Red Devils lose one of football’s biggest talents.
Although it is very unlikely United’s hierarchy will sanction a sale in January, according to Transfermarkt, selling the 28-year-old could bring in as much as £54m.
Paul Pogba has been linked with a return to Juventus next summer.
RW: Jesse Lingard – Manchester United
Jesse Lingard, 28, like teammate Pogba, is out of contract in under 12-months time.
Despite being loaned out to West Ham United for the latter part of last season, a recent report from The Sun has suggested manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is keen to see the midfielder extend his stay.
However, with it noted the England international would like to play more (Sky Sports), the Red Devils, should they fail to agree to the 28-year-old’s terms, will undoubtedly be facing a decision come January.
Should the Premier League giants opt to find a suitable buyer for Lingard, according to Transfermarkt, they could ask for as much as £20m.
LW: Todd Cantwell – Norwich City
Following the departure of former midfielder Emi Buendia, who joined Aston Villa earlier this summer, wide-attacker Todd Cantwell, 23, can now safely be regarded as the Canaries’ best player.
However, with his deal set to expire next summer, fans will be wondering how much longer they can expect to see the attacker turn out in green and yellow.
Earlier transfer windows have seen the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal both linked (Fichajes) with a move for the Englishman, therefore, should the Canaries consider it best to admit defeat, as per Transfermarkt, they could ask for around £20m once the January window opens.
ST: Alexandre Lacazette – Arsenal
Despite arriving in the Premier League from French side Lyon, four years ago, tipped to be one of England’s most prolific strikers, Lacazette, now 30, has struggled to cement his place among the country’s best.
Widely expected to see out his contract and move on (Football London), it is going to be tough for the Gunners to command a January fee, however, should a club look to try and prize the Frenchman away from London ahead of time, as per Transfermarkt, they will likely have to pay at least £19m for the privilege.