With the summer transfer window fast approaching, clubs are getting together a list of their top targets for the future – but amid the coronavirus pandemic many will be strapped for cash.
Consequently very few clubs will be in the running for the two biggest prizes this summer: Paris Saint-Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland. The latter’s agents have already held talks with several clubs over a potential £154million transfer.
However, for numerous clubs tapping into free agency could be the most cost-effective method to bolster their squads – and they could be spoilt for choice given the top talents that are out of contract this summer.
Here, Sportsmail ranks the top 10 high-profile stars who are set for free transfers this summer and takes a look at where they could end up.
There are several high-profile stars set to become free agents for this summer’s window
10 – Jerome Boateng
Bayern Munich centre-back Jerome Boateng could be waving goodbye to the German giants after 10 years at the club.
While the defender is interested in staying at the Allianz Arena, there is still very little sign from the Bundesliga champions that they are going to offer him a new deal.
Boateng still has plenty to offer at the age of 32, with Tottenham, Chelsea and Arsenal having all previously shown an interest in him.
Having seen the value that adding an experienced trophy-winner brings, such as Thiago Silva at Stamford Bridge, more Premier League clubs could follow suit and look to acquire Boateng.
Interested – Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal.
Centre-back Jerome Boateng (left) could be waving goodbye to Bayern Munich this summer
9 – Hakan Calhanoglu
AC Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu has been stuck in contract negotiations now for some time, with a move in the summer becoming more likely.
Reports have claimed that the Serie A giants are some way off the Turkish international’s demands of a £4.2million-per-year deal at the San Siro.
The playmaker is entering the prime of his career at 27, and if a deal could not be reached with Milan then there will be a line of clubs ready to take advantage come this summer. According to reports, Manchester United and Napoli are ready to make bids.
Interested – Manchester United, Napoli.
AC Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu is still stuck in contract negotiations in his final year
8 – Lucas Vazquez
The industrious and versatile Lucas Vazquez never steals many headlines at Real Madrid but he is a good servant to the club and manager Zinedine Zidane.
Despite this, in the final year of his deal at the Bernabeu, Vazquez wants a salary increase that fairer represents his standing in the Madrid pecking order, while the cash-strapped club are still looking to cut costs due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Leeds, Everton, Tottenham, AC Milan and Bayern Munich are all monitoring the 29-year-old’s situation as it develops with Los Blancos, and the 29-year-old right midfielder/right back could be set to leave on a free in just a few months.
Interested – Leeds, Everton, Tottenham, AC Milan, Bayern Munich.
Lucas Vazquez (left) could be cast adrift by Real Madrid with several suitors interested in him
7- Gianluigi Donnarumma
Earlier in the season, Gianluigi Donnarumma looked set to sign a new long-term deal with AC Milan. But now he looks destined for the exit door.
The highly-rated 22-year-old goalkeeper has refused two contract extensions with the Serie A giants and clubs are beginning to circle in an attempt to snap up the Italian international.
Juventus, Manchester United and Real Madrid are all reportedly interested in Donnarumma but Chelsea, who have been long-term admirers of him, are said to be favourites to land the stopper should he enter free agency this summer, despite signing Edouard Mendy last year.
Interested – Juventus, Manchester United, Real Madrid, Chelsea.
Gianluigi Donnarumma has rejected a contract extension with AC Milan and looks set to walk
6 – Edinson Cavani
The veteran striker looked like a potential panic-buy from Manchester United when he arrived on last October’s transfer deadline day.
However, unlike other high-profile striker signings such as Radamel Falcao, Cavani has been an astute piece of business by the Red Devils – but he is already approaching the end of his one-year deal. Boca Juniors are reportedly interested.
Upon signing him, United did ensure they had an option to extend his deal for another season at Old Trafford, with many expecting them to do so, but there is still a chance United could release him to free up space on the wage bill for a younger, more long-term arrival.
Interested – Manchester United, Boca Juniors.
Manchester United have the option to extend Edinson Cavani’s deal with them for one year
5 – Georginio Wijnaldum
The Liverpool midfielder has been heavily linked with Barcelona due to his relationship with his former Holland boss Ronald Koeman.
And while Wijnaldum has played an integral role in Jurgen Klopp’s Champions League and Premier League winning formula, he has been unable to negotiate a new deal with the Reds and looks set to become a free agent in the next window.
Despite the club wanting to keep the Dutch playmaker, Barcelona will be able to make another attempt to sign him with much more ease and he could be enticed by a move to the Nou Camp.
Interested – Barcelona.
Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum has not agreed a new deal and is linked with Barca
4 – Memphis Depay
The Lyon forward has been linked with a move to Barcelona several times but has remained in France to see out his contract while the Catalan giants wrestle with their crippling £1billion debt.
Much like Wijnaldum, Depay is a player that Barca boss Koeman is very interested in having worked together during their Holland days.
Depay has flourished in Ligue 1 since joining from Manchester United in 2016 and has rejuvenated his career after flopping in the Premier League.
While the 27-year-old has waved away rumours linking him to the Nou Camp, this is a transfer that appears inevitable and one of the few that Barca can afford. Intriguingly, Liverpool have entered the race to sign him, according to Marca.
Interested – Barcelona, Liverpool.
Lyon forward Memphis Depay has been linked with Barcelona several times already
3 – Sergio Ramos
Four Champions Leagues, five LaLiga trophies, nine UEFA team of the year appearances and one World Cup. Sergio Ramos, ladies and gentlemen.
The Real Madrid centre-back revealed last month that he had still not signed a new contract with the club and potential suitors are preparing for his exit this summer.
Club captain Ramos, according to reports, will commit his future to Madrid if he is offered a two-year deal, but the club are remaining firm on offering him just a one-year extension after 16 years at the club.
It is also well known that Los Blancos are planning to scoop up David Alaba from Bayern Munich for free this summer, further fuelling a potential summer exit for Ramos.
A number of Premier League clubs will be interested in Ramos’ experience and leadership qualities – having seen the positive impact of Thiago Silva at Chelsea – but PSG are also in the mix with potentially greater funding than any of their competitors.
Manchester United are also linked with Ramos – but he has deviously used the club’s interest to win a new contract with Real once before, back in 2015, which left a bitter taste.
Interested – Paris Saint-Germain, Manchester United.
Time is running out for Sergio Ramos to extend his stay at Real Madrid after 16 years at the club
2- Sergio Aguero
Manchester City recently confirmed that Sergio Aguero will not be extending his stay at the Etihad Stadium at the end of this season.
After joining in 2011 from Atletico Madrid, Aguero took to the Premier League like a duck to water and became the club’s all-time top goalscorer. City will mark Aguero’s contribution to the club by building him a statue.
The Argentine will turn 33 this summer but still has plenty to offer – and City’s Premier League rivals are already eyeing him up. Sportsmail revealed that Chelsea are leading the race to sign Aguero as he does have a desire to stay in England.
Barcelona, Real Madrid and PSG are also said to be interested in snapping the frontman up on a free.
Interested – Chelsea, Barcelona, Real Madrid, PSG.
Sergio Aguero will leave Man City this season – with Chelsea leading the race to sign him
1- Lionel Messi
Of course, Lionel Messi was going to sit at No 1 in the list.
The Barcelona forward would be the most highly sought-after free agent of all time following his very public fallout with the club’s board last summer – if he were at all affordable.
Messi has continued to let his football do the talking this season under new boss Ronald Koeman, with 23 goals and eight assists in 26 LaLiga matches. While it is not a certainty that he will leave the Nou Camp this summer, a departure seems possible as the weeks roll on towards the transfer window and no new contract is signed.
New president Joan Laporta thinks he has convinced Messi to stay, yet while his arrival has helped clear the club of the toxic relationship their greatest ever player had with former chief Josep Bartomeu, it was all too clear that Messi wanted out only a few months ago.
And that £1billion debt is certainly not helped by Messi’s eyewatering £107.6m-per-year wages.
While many clubs will be interested in him, only a tiny number of the elite will have the funds to afford his wages – and that would still be at a stretch.
Manchester City have been favourites to land the Argentine ever since there was rumblings of a fallout in Spain due to Messi’s relationship with Pep Guardiola, but Paris Saint-Germain could also throw their hat in the ring.
Interested – Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain.
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi will be one of the most sought-after free agents ever