Thanks to Jean-Marc Bosman, footballers around Europe have been freely moving from club to club at the end of their contracts for free since 1995. Whether it’s the world’s finest stars who are too expensive to buy or legends of the game looking for a final contract, it’s always exciting to see where players end up in the fire sale that is the summer transfer window.
We’ve picked the best 11 players on offer this summer, as well as seven subs who deserve an honourable mention.
GK: Andre Onana - Ajax
A former player of the Samuel Eto’o foundation, Onana spent five years of his youth career with Barcelona before moving to Ajax, making the jump to the first team in 2016. Since then he’s been in the Eredivisie Team of the Year, CAF Team of the Year and won the league-cup double in the Netherlands twice.
Rumours of the Cameroonian’s departure have been rife since 2017, where he’s been linked to Borussia Dortmund, Spurs, Man Utd, PSG and Chelsea. But it’s Inter Milan that seems to be the most interested this summer, according to Ligue 1 reporter Saber Desfarges. Don’t count out a late change of heart however, after the shotstopper expressed an interest in playing in the Premier League back in 2019. Wherever he ends up, that club needs to make sure they have a copy of Rihanna’s ‘What’s My Name?’ ready to go.
DF: Antonio Rüdiger - Chelsea
Big Toni has been a force at the back for Chelsea this season. After a few years of mixed performances, drawing criticism for his sometimes erratic and unorthodox defending, everything seems to have fallen nicely into place under Thomas Tuchel. Unfortunately for the Blues boss, Rudiger’s contract is up and Chelsea are not willing to pay the price he wants if he is to stay at Stamford Bridge.
The current frontrunners for his signature are Real Madrid, where he has reportedly set his mind on, however rumours of Juventus and Manchester United are still floating around. He’s 29 now and he’ll be looking for a big payday and more trophies before he settles down to enjoy the twilight of his career.
DF: Dan-Axel Zagadou - Borussia Dortmund
The tale of Dan-Axel Zagadou is an unfortunate one. When fit, he is a strong, tall enforcer that excels in the air and with the ball at his feet. Unfortunately for him, he’s missed 83 games for Dortmund since joining the club and played just 91 in all competitions. A recurring knee problem seems to have kept creeping up on the Frenchman, but if he can iron out his injury issues, he’s sure to find success no matter where he goes.
So far there is no genuine interest shown in the former PSG youth prospect, but the usual clubs are being bandied around as scouting the 22-year-old.
DF: James Tarkowski - Burnley
The English centre-back has made a cracking career for himself. Once playing for Maine Road FC back in 2009, he’s gone from non-league to the Premier League and has been a key man at Turf Moor for the last six years.
Tarkowski’s contract is up, and it’s expected that he will search for a move to a bigger side in the summer. He was reportedly a target of Newcastle in January, although they may look for bigger names from abroad rather than attempt to sign the number five.
MF: Boubacar Kamara - Marseille
A name on the lips of many big sides this summer is Boubacar Kamara. ‘Bouba’ has been a hybrid defensive midfielder and centre-back throughout the time at his boyhood club of Marseille, but it appears that he will not be receiving a new contract this summer.
With over 100 first-team appearances at the age of 22, he has experience on his side for such a youngster, and many teams are interested in his signature. In January it was reported that Ralf Rangnick was a fan of the player and wanted Man Utd to bring him to the club, but since we’ve seen the likes of Roma, Chelsea, Leeds and Newcastle look at bringing the Frenchman in this summer.
MF: Franck Kessie - Milan
Before it’s said, Franck Kessie has a verbal agreement with Barcelona, signing on a four-year contract in the summer. Until it is officially confirmed by the club, it’s safe to say that anything could happen with the Ivorian.
Kessie has been huge for Milan’s resurgence in Serie A, joining from Atalanta after a loan spell in Milan from 2017 onwards and his aggressive defensive displays, coupled with intense and technically brilliant build-up play has been vital to the success of the team since he first joined. If he is to join Barcelona in the summer, then it will be a huge coup for them, who can rely on Kessie to bring some fortitude to a young midfield and a potentially outgoing Sergio Busquets.
AM: Paul Pogba - Man Utd
Continually loved and hated in an almost cyclical fashion, it’s been a rollercoaster return to Old Trafford for Paul Pogba. It’s safe to say that the experiment of bringing him ‘home’ has not been a successful one, despite early successes under Jose Mourinho. Often the lightning rod for Man Utd’s criticism, Pogba will no doubt flourish when he departs Manchester this summer, and is expected to join up with one of Europe’s elite clubs.
An offer from Manchester City was rebuked this week, with Real Madrid, PSG and Juventus still in the race to sign the World Cup winning midfielder this summer.
AM: Christian Eriksen - Brentford
Just being able to see Christian Eriksen return to the pitch was a brilliant part of this season. Seeing him return to the same kind of form that won Serie A with Inter was even more special. Since arriving back in London, he’s been in the top 1% of players with the highest assists, expected assists and shot creating actions.
If Brentford were able to keep the Great Dane, then they’d already be safe from relegation next season. Currently it seems that Newcastle are interested in signing him also.
LW: Paulo Dybala - Juventus
It was August 2019 when Heathrow and Manchester airports were being scanned heavily by avid fans of Tottenham and Manchester United, hoping that they’d see the private plane of Paulo Dybala’s representatives. Apparently they did arrive, but there wasn’t a deal to be done for the Argentine.
The Old Lady don’t want to renew his contract this summer, and it remains to be seen whether he will remain in Italy or look to ply his trade elsewhere. So far there are no rumours of a move anywhere, so it might take some time for him to choose his next destination.
ST: Kylian Mbappe - PSG
The big fish in the moderately-sized pond this summer is Kylian Mbappe. The superstar is spearheading the next generation of footballers who are set to replace Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi and it’s expected that he will soon make his decision on whether he will stay at PSG with a mega contract or whether he will live his childhood dream of joining Real Madrid.
It seems that there’s no other teams in the run-in and it’s a straight shootout between the two clubs. Expect the story to continue throughout the summer.
RW: Ousmane Dembele - Barcelona
The €105 million man, Ousmane Dembele, will be on the move this summer, after spending a turbulent five years in Barcelona. He’s suffered recurring injuries since joining the Catalan giants and despite putting in good performances every so often, he’s never really settled in at the club.
Once again, Newcastle have popped up as the most recent club to take interest in the services of the Frenchman.
SUBS: Sam Johnstone (WBA), Alessio Romagnoli (Milan), Noussair Mazrouai (Ajax), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Jesse Lingard (Man Utd), Eddie Nketiah (Arsenal), Luis Suarez (Atletico)