A brilliant Xl of players who are now available on a free transfer: Messi, Mata

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Former Manchester United, Chelsea and Tottenham players are among the highest-profile free agents currently without a club.

The current financial uncertainty has led to many big clubs tightening the purse strings and they may be looking to sign free agents this summer.

We’ve made an Xl of the best players currently available to sign on a free transfer, arranged in a 4-2-3-1 formation.

GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma

Despite only being 22 years old, Donnarumma somehow made over 250 first-team appearances during his time at AC Milan.

Guided by super-agent Mino Raiola, the goalkeeper failed to reach an agreement on a contract extension at the San Siro and has now left the club.

“I can’t hide my sorrow,” former Milan manager Arrigo Sacchi told Gazzetta dello Sport in June 2021. “If he [Donnarumma] was happy with Milan, the club that made him grow and valued him, then he had to stay.

“In life, it is important to show gratitude towards those who gave you an important chance and this was an opportunity to demonstrate it. Also, the club had offered him a rich contract. So, I ask myself: why is he leaving? Why force the situation?”

According to reports, he won’t be a free agent for much longer as Paris Saint-Germain are finalising a five-year contract for the Italy international.

RB: Elseid Hysaj

Hysaj has previously been linked with a move to the Premier League, with Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham all registering interest in the full-back.

The Albania international has spent the last six seasons at Serie A side Napoli but eventually decided against signing a contract extension.

“After many years and so many meetings with failed attempts to reach an agreement, it is only right that he has a change of scenery and experience new things,” agent Mario Giuffredi said in May 2021.

Despite reported interest from Atletico Madrid, AC Milan and Juventus, he is reportedly set to reunite with former manager Maurizio Sarri at Lazio.

CB: Sergio Ramos

One of the greatest centre-backs of all time, Ramos has officially left Real Madrid after a 16-year spell in which he won 22 trophies.

He has become the latest Madrid player to have an acrimonious exit from the Bernabeu after falling out with club president Florentino Perez.

“I never wanted to leave Real Madrid, I always wanted to stay here,” Ramos said. “In the last few months, the club made me an offer of one year, with a pay cut. I want to highlight that money has never been a problem, the president knows that.

“It wasn’t a financial problem. They offered me one year, I wanted two. I wanted calm and continuity for my family … In the latest conversations, I accepted the offer with a pay cut, and I was told there was no longer an offer.

“I was told that despite having given the OK to the proposal, it had an expiry date and I didn’t realise … It surprised me.”

The 35-year-old has recently been linked with moves to PSG, Bayern Munich and Manchester United.

READ: Where are they now? Real Madrid’s XI from Sergio Ramos’ debut in 2005

CB: Jerome Boateng

Having failed to establish himself at Manchester City, Boateng joined Bayern Munich in 2011 and spent the next 10 years at the Allianz Arena, making over 350 appearances in all competitions.

The 32-year-old has fallen down the pecking order in recent seasons and wasn’t offered a new contract by the Bundesliga side at the end of 2020-21.

He is yet to make a decision on his future but the likes of Tottenham, Monaco and Roma are all reportedly vying for his signature.

“I don’t know where I will go yet, but I have a clear idea in my head,” Boateng told Kicker in June 2021. “I’ve had a great season and didn’t miss a single game through injury. With the shape I’m in, I can definitely play at the top level for another two or three years.

“After that, you can always go somewhere where the demands aren’t as high. If it becomes a struggle at some point, I’ll stop playing.”

LB: Ezgjan Alioski

Alioski joined Leeds United in the summer of 2017 and has endeared himself to the club’s supporters enormously over the last four years.

Despite making 36 Premier League appearances for the club in 2020-21, the left-back failed to agree on a new contract.

He has come in for some stick from Leeds fans over his links to Galatasaray but now looks set to join either Trabzonspor or Fenerbahce.

READ: Leeds United’s loveable mad dog Alioski deserves a hero’s farewell

CM: Paulinho

Paulinho has the last three years at Chinese Super League side Guangzhou Evergrande but his contract was mutually terminated in June 2021 due to complications caused by the pandemic.

The former Tottenham midfielder has been linked with a move to Atletico Madrid but is keen to join Barcelona, having played for the club in 2017-18.

“Barca are a team I know well,” Paulinho said in June 2021. “I spent an unforgettable year there, both at the club and in the city, and we won La Liga and the Copa del Rey. If I had another chance, and it was a good thing for both me and my family, I would be delighted [to return].”

CM: Ramires

A former Chelsea fan favourite, Ramires has been without a club since leaving Palmeiras by mutual consent in November 2020.

The 34-year-old has rejected offers from teams in Japan and the United Arab Emirates, as he would prefer to finish his playing career in Brazil.

“I’ve had some proposals since my departure from Palmeiras, but it was all from abroad, from afar, and my goal, since when I returned to Brazil, was to play here and end my career, not having to go abroad again, since I’ve been there a lot,” Ramires told UOL in March 2021.

“But it didn’t happen as I wanted. I’m stopped, just training, I don’t have any club yet. I’ll wait a little longer, sometimes something comes up. It’s very difficult to stay idle for a long time, just training, even more at the age I am.”

READ: A love letter to Ramires and his perfectly-timed moment of magic

RW: Lionel Messi

Having joined Barcelona’s academy in 2001, Messi was contracted to the club for 7,478 straight days before his deal expired at the end of June 2021.

Despite being heavily linked with a move to Manchester City in 2020, he is reportedly happy to stay at Camp Nou and contract discussions are ongoing.

“Leo Messi’s boots will continue on the Camp Nou pitch,” club president Joan Laporta said in June 2021. “He wants to stay. I do not contemplate a no. But it isn’t easy.

“We’ll do what we can. There is no need to seduce him, he is determined if there are a series of circumstances to stay.”

CAM: Juan Mata

After joining Manchester United from Chelsea in January 2014, Mata made over 250 appearances for the club and cemented himself as a firm fans’ favourite.

The midfielder has struggled to nail down a starting berth under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but continues to be a well-respected figure inside the Old Trafford dressing room.

“I’ve kept the dialogue with Juan and we’re due to speak again very soon,” Solskjaer said in May 2021. “Of course he’s not played as much as he would like and that’s a decision we will make with him.

“He’s in charge of his own future, he’s been such a good servant for the club. But it’s hard to leave good players and good people out of the team, and it’s about what does he want as his next step in his career.”

According to the Manchester Evening News, the 33-year-old wants to stay at United for another season but nothing has been signed at this stage.

READ: An ode to Juan Mata at Man Utd, a magical square peg in a round hole

LW: Franck Ribery

The Bayern Munich legend joined Fiorentina in 2019 and made 51 appearances over the last two seasons, registering five goals and nine assists.

Ribery wanted to remain at the Artemio Franchi for another season but they ultimately decided not to offer him a new contract.

The 38-year-old isn’t ready to hang up his boots just yet and has been linked with a return to the Bundesliga.

READ: Franck Ribery may be 38, but four Napoli men still couldn’t tackle him

ST: Diego Costa

Having agreed to terminate his Atletico Madrid contract in December 2020, Costa has now been without a club for six months.

The former Chelsea striker could reportedly return to the Premier League with Wolves but has also been offered a £1.3million signing-on bonus to join Turkish side Besiktas.


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