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Irish Hammer 12:07 Tue May 10
Long article! Who is out of contract in the league this summer
As the Premier League season approaches its curtain call, many players will be bowing out of the English top flight.

The free agent market — for players whose contracts have expired and who can join another club after June 30 without that club paying a transfer fee — is particularly vibrant. Players such as Paul Pogba, Eddie Nketiah and Antonio Rudiger, for example, are available for nothing after running down their deals at Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea. Others on this list have gone so long without making a first-team appearance that you might have forgotten they are still at your club.

It is also interesting to note different Premier League sides’ positions on free agents. Burnley, for instance, have nine players out of contract this summer but Tottenham Hotspur do not have any.

Here, The Athletic’s club reporters run down who is out of contract at your club, if there’s any chance of them staying on and where they might go if it’s time to leave…


Free agents this summer: Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Mohamed Elneny

State of play: Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah’s situations are uncertain. For Nketiah, Mikel Arteta has made Arsenal’s position of wanting to keep him known since the winter.

The Athletic revealed he was offered a new contract last summer, and that the 22-year-old rejected a later offer in December, with his main priority being game time. His recent run in the team may provide a glimpse of next season but it would not be a surprise if Nketiah decided to leave in the summer.

Arsenal have long maintained they want to keep Nketiah at the club (Photo: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)
Arteta has maintained his position that conversations around a new contract for Lacazette would take place at the end of the season. The 30-year-old is widely recognised as an influential dressing-room figure, but his on-pitch impact has dwindled this calendar year. Given the need for a new starting striker, Lacazette’s future may hinge on which European competition Arsenal are playing in next season.

As for Elneny, he has made clear his ambitions to stay in north London and talks have begun about a new deal. The midfielder had not appeared in the Premier League since New Year’s Day before his recent string of starts but he remains a respected figure in the squad.

Art de Roche

Aston Villa

Free agents this summer: Ashley Young, Conor Hourihane

State of play: Villa are in a strong position this summer and hold the power over their top players.

Ashley Young was given a one-year deal when he signed last summer and is keen to extend for another season. Although he will be 37 in July, Villa like his versatility and believe he could still be useful in 2022-23. Talks over his future will continue in the weeks ahead.

Conor Hourihane’s time at Villa is up, though. He will have options to consider when his loan at Sheffield United ends.

Gregg Evans


Free agents this summer: Christian Eriksen, Julian Jeanvier, Mathias ‘Zanka’ Jorgensen

State of play: Let’s face it, although Julian Jeanvier has been a loyal servant for Brentford and Mathias “Zanka” Jorgensen has been a useful squad member this season, the future of Christian Eriksen is their biggest concern.

Eriksen has revitalised Brentford since joining them in January (Photo: Federico Maranesi/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Since he joined the club in January on a six-month contract, the 30-year-old midfielder has played a huge role in propelling Brentford away from the relegation zone. They have taken 19 points from a possible 24 in the eight matches he has started. Thomas Frank has said it is “no secret” he wants Eriksen to stay and insists they have a “good chance”. The Denmark international’s ambition is to represent his country at the World Cup in Qatar this year and Brentford’s chances of keeping him could hinge on the fact they can offer him guaranteed playing time.

Jeanvier, who has not played competitive football since October 2020 after he suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury, looks likely to leave, while Zanka’s adductor and hamstring problems in the last few months might work against him. Brentford have a one-year option on each player.

Jay Harris

Brighton & Hove Albion

Free agents this summer: Danny Welbeck, Pascal Gross, Jayson Molumby, Alex Cochrane, Tudor Baluta, Lars Dendoncker

State of play: The Athletic revealed last month that, although Danny Welbeck is theoretically out of contract at the end of June, there are options in the contract for both parties. That means the former Arsenal, Manchester United and England forward is still likely to be at the club when he turns 32 in November.

Head coach Graham Potter is keen to keep Pascal Gross for a sixth season. Much will depend on whether the versatile German, 31 in June, wants the security of more than a year. West Bromwich Albion manager Steve Bruce has already confirmed that 22-year-old Republic of Ireland midfielder Jayson Molumby’s season-long loan move to the Championship club has become permanent.

Brighton have the option of another year in the contract of Alex Cochrane. The 22-year-old defender has been on loan to Hearts in the Scottish Premiership this season.

Tudor Baluta and Lars Dendoncker are not in Potter’s plans and are likely to leave.

Andy Naylor


Free agents this summer: Ben Mee, James Tarkowski, Phil Bardsley, Erik Pieters, Jack Cork, Dale Stephens, Aaron Lennon, Matej Vydra, Ashley Barnes

State of play: The announcement of a new two-year deal for Jay Rodriguez last week was the first of 10 contract situations that Burnley need to sort out by the end of the season.

Several factors have to be considered, from the uncertainty of which division Burnley will be in next season to timing and the negotiation positions of both the club and player. Now we can add in the uncertainty of the club’s next manager and how they will see the future of certain players.

Mee is one of 10 Burnley players who are out of contract this summer (Photo: Dave Howarth – CameraSport via Getty Images)
Captain Ben Mee is the obvious name fans want to pen a new deal but it is understood his focus is on keeping Burnley in the Premier League before contract discussions continue. Meanwhile, you would expect Jack Cork and Ashley Barnes to have their one-year extensions triggered.

James Tarkowski has made his intentions clear and he will leave in the summer. Striker Matej Vydra is expected to follow him out the door after failing to ever establish himself as first choice at the club.

Andy Jones


Free agents this summer: Antonio Rudiger, Andreas Christensen, Cesar Azpilicueta, Charly Musonda, Danny Drinkwater, Jake Clarke-Salter

State of play: Antonio Rudiger is expected to sign a pre-contract agreement with Real Madrid in the coming days, though the move may not be officially announced until the end of the season. Andreas Christensen is regarded as Barcelona-bound, and club captain Cesar Azpilicueta could still follow him to Catalonia despite automatically triggering a one-year extension clause in his Chelsea contract. Potentially losing all of the back three that finished the 2021 Champions League final means investing in defensive reinforcements will need to be an immediate priority for the club’s incoming ownership.

Chelsea, Rudiger
Rudiger is heading to Real Madrid (Photo: Alexander Hassenstein – UEFA/UEFA via Getty Images)
In more positive news for all involved, Danny Drinkwater’s disastrous (though highly lucrative) five years at Stamford Bridge will come to an end this summer with the expiry of the £100,000-a-week deal he signed in the summer of 2017. Academy graduates Charly Musonda and Jake Clarke-Salter will also leave as free agents, with Coventry City reportedly interested in signing the latter.

Liam Twomey

Crystal Palace

Free agents this summer: Martin Kelly, James Tomkins, Jaroslaw Jach, James McArthur, Cheikhou Kouyate, Nathaniel Clyne, Jordan Ayew.

State of play: It will be another important summer of rebuilding for Palace, but there is less work to be done this time around. Talks have continued with Cheikhou Kouyate but Martin Kelly and Jaroslaw Jach are expected to be allowed to leave. James Tomkins, who has started only six games this season, could join them if the option for a further year is not pursued.

Decisions have yet to be made on the futures of Nathaniel Clyne, who has impressed of late, and Jordan Ayew. Palace will likely opt to trigger the one-year option in Ayew’s contract. That clause also exists for James McArthur, but the list of FA intermediary transactions suggests his deal has been renewed already without any official confirmation. In any case, he is expected to stay.

Matt Woosnam


Free agents this summer: Jonjoe Kenny, Gylfi Sigurdsson, Fabian Delph, Cenk Tosun, Asmir Begovic

State of play: With five first-team players out of contract this summer, Everton have some decisions to make.

Let’s start with the easy one. Cenk Tosun has not been offered a new contract and is set to leave Goodison Park when his deal expires, most likely for a club in his native Turkey.

Everton, Tosun
Tosun’s time at Everton is set to end this season (Photo: Emma Simpson – Everton FC/Everton FC via Getty Images)
But that is where the certainty (or near-certainty) ends. No extensions have been agreed with Fabian Delph, Jonjoe Kenny, Gylfi Sigurdsson or Asmir Begovic, the last of whom has a one-year option. As the clock ticks down, the likelihood of each player leaving increases.

Whichever division they’re playing in next season, Everton will see departures as a helpful way of bringing down a wage bill that is eighth-highest in the Premier League. After three successive years of £100 million-plus losses, they know they need to reduce costs and find a more sustainable way of being.

The combined weekly salaries of Sigurdsson, Delph and Tosun are estimated to be worth comfortably more than £200,000. That is one of the key reasons the bulk of those out of contract are likely to be looking for new clubs this summer.

Patrick Boyland


Free agents this summer: Laurens De Bock, Nohan Kenneh

State of play: Most people will have forgotten that Laurens De Bock is even on the books at Leeds. He signed in January 2018, played seven times and has never been seen since. He’s on loan at the fourth different club in four years and will leave quietly at the end of the season.

Otherwise, virtually everyone at Leeds is tied down beyond the summer. Under-23s centre-back Nohan Kenneh could be offered new terms. The club have been weighing up a decision on him.

Phil Hay

Leicester City

Free agents this summer: Eldin Jakupovic

State of play: For the last two summers, Eldin Jakupovic had been expected to move on before quietly signing one-year contract extensions. At 37, he seems happy to play the role of third-choice goalkeeper, even though he has made just four appearances in five seasons since signing from Hull City for £2 million in July 2017.

Younger goalkeepers are coming through at Leicester now. Daniel Iversen has impressed on loan at Preston North End and Jakub Stolarczyk has also gained valuable experience at Dunfermline. Leicester also have 19-year-old American goalkeeper Chituru Odunze emerging.

However, Leicester are likely to want those youngsters to go back out on loan. The role of third-choice keeper has limited benefits for a young player, considering the lack of game time. Brendan Rodgers has also said he prefers to have three senior keepers on the books, so Jakupovic may not be finished at Leicester just yet.

Rob Tanner


Free agents this summer: James Milner, Loris Karius, Divock Origi

State of play: Loris Karius will end his six-year association with Liverpool this summer. Karius has trained with the main group of goalkeepers at Liverpool throughout the campaign but has not featured in a single match-day squad, so the clause of an extra year if he makes a set number of appearances is very unlikely to be triggered.

Divock Origi will also wave goodbye in the coming months. The Belgian striker’s last game involvement could be the Champions League final against Real Madrid. The 27-year-old has not reached the number of appearances that would have triggered a one-year extension on the deal he signed in 2019. The player’s representatives have been in advanced talks with AC Milan over a move to Italy.

Origi scores against Everton in April (Photo: Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images)
What happens with James Milner will be interesting. The midfielder’s plans are up in the air but he is not short of options. Jurgen Klopp wants him to stay and Milner’s representatives have held initial talks with the club, but it is understood Fenway Sports Group will make the final decision on the offer to the 36-year-old.

Caoimhe O’Neill

Manchester City

Free agents this summer: Fernandinho, Scott Carson

State of play: Fernandinho announced, to the surprise of even Pep Guardiola, during a press conference in April that he will be leaving at the end of the season. It turns out that he had made that decision a couple of months earlier, and he intends to continue playing for another year or two in Brazil.

Scott Carson is basically on a rolling agreement. He was signed as third-choice goalkeeper in 2019, on loan from Derby County for a year, but he proved so popular that the loan was extended by a further 12 months. When that ended last summer City signed him permanently on a one-year deal. That is now expiring and although he is 36 now, he has been a big part of the dressing-room environment, has been very good for first-choice goalkeeper Ederson and is never really going to have to play (young goalkeepers would probably get the nod in an injury crisis). So it would make sense, on paper at least, for him to get another deal at least.

Sam Lee

Manchester United

Free agents this summer: Paul Pogba, Jesse Lingard, Edinson Cavani, Juan Mata, Lee Grant

State of play: Barring a dramatic change of heart, Paul Pogba’s last action for United will be a nine-minute appearance during a difficult defeat to Liverpool at Anfield. The Frenchman is likely to depart United on a free this summer for the second time and has already decided against a move to neighbours Manchester City.

Pogba, Manchester United
Pogba reacts to boos at Old Trafford (Photo: Simon Stacpoole/Offside/Offside via Getty Images)
Edinson Cavani and Juan Mata were given farewell appearances in United’s final home game of the season, and are likely to be looking for pastures new in the summer. Jesse Lingard, who did not feature in that game, is also seeking a new club in the summer.

In all likelihood, United will have new names adorning their No 6, 8, 14, and 21 shirts next season.

Carl Anka

Newcastle United

Free agents this summer: Sean Longstaff

State of play: After Fabian Schar and Paul Dummett agreed new deals last month, Sean Longstaff is the only player at Newcastle out of contract this summer. Discussions are continuing over an extension and he is expected to stay.

His situation has changed in recent months. He had looked destined to leave in January and then this summer, but Eddie Howe wants to keep him as a midfield option. Replacing Longstaff with a player of equivalent or better standard is seen as an unnecessary cost when he could be kept on. There has been long-term interest from Everton, which has cooled slightly since Rafa Benitez left Goodison Park, and clubs abroad, although Longstaff is viewed as a decent free transfer.

Chris Waugh

Norwich City

Free agents this summer: Lukas Rupp, Josip Drmic, Aston Oxborough, Reece McAlear

State of play: Having taken up their 12-month options on Teemu Pukki, Todd Cantwell and Matthew Dennis, Norwich have a quartet of players with first-team experience whose contracts expire this summer.

Pukki will stay at Norwich for at least another 12 months (Photo: Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images)
Lukas Rupp is set to leave the club following relegation, with Norwich opting against offering him a new deal and the German not looking for a Championship return. Josip Drmic will also leave having spent this season on loan at Croatian side Rijeka. Aston Oxborough already has interest from a handful of EFL sides as he prepares to leave his boyhood club, while Reece McAlear has impressed during a season on loan with Inverness Caledonian Thistle and should have plenty of suitors in Scotland.

Michael Bailey


Free agents this summer: Fraser Forster, Harry Lewis, Willy Caballero, Shane Long

State of play: Southampton have three goalkeepers out of contract this summer, and it is likely Fraser Forster and Harry Lewis will not sign new contracts. There remains a possibility that Willy Caballero, who joined the club in December on an initial one-month deal before signing a six-month extension in January, is handed fresh terms. Shane Long has featured heavily in recent weeks but it remains to be seen whether Southampton look to extend his stay.

Dan Sheldon

Tottenham Hotspur

Free agents this summer: None.

State of play: The closest Tottenham have is Pierluigi Gollini, whose one-year loan expires at the end of the season. The 27-year-old can’t hit the threshold of 20 appearances that would have triggered a permanent move to Spurs and is expected to return to Atalanta but there remains the possibility of another season-long loan.

Charlie Eccleshare


Free agents this summer: Ben Foster, Nicolas Nkoulou, Andre Gray, Dan Phillips, Juraj Kucka, Maurizio Pochettino

State of play: Relegation has changed the picture. Some players — such as captain Moussa Sissoko — have relegation release clauses so will effectively become free agents. They will be allowed to leave and find new teams rather than burden the club with high wages.

Ben Foster
Forster is one of several Watford players out of contract at the end of the season (Photo: Marc Atkins/Getty Images)
It’s unclear what will happen with Danny Rose. He has been training with the under-23s having been cut from the squad in January. Peter Etebo had a loan with an option to buy from Stoke, so that will need to be assessed too.

Dan Phillips has been on loan at Gillingham but the club has an option for another year, and it’s the same with Juraj Kucka. With Maurizio Pochettino, Watford hold an option to extend his deal until 2024.

Adam Leventhal

West Ham

Free agents this summer: Angelo Ogbonna, Ryan Fredericks, Andriy Yarmolenko, Lukasz Fabianski, Mark Noble (retiring), Dave Martin

State of play: The Athletic revealed West Ham intend to exercise the one-year option in Angelo Ogbonna’s contract. The 33-year-old has not featured since sustaining an anterior cruciate ligament injury against Liverpool in November. But he is still highly thought of by David Moyes and his backroom staff.

It is believed Lukasz Fabianski will stay for another year but it is yet to be determined whether the club will activate the one-year options in Ryan Fredericks’ and Andriy Yarmolenko’s contracts. David Martin’s future is dependent on whether West Ham decide to have three or four senior goalkeepers next season.

Roshane Thomas


Free agents this summer: Joao Moutinho, Romain Saiss, Fernando Marcal, John Ruddy.

State of play: Wolves would like to keep Romain Saiss and Joao Moutinho, who has enjoyed another really solid season despite his age (35), and have been in discussions with both. Saiss, who has been with the club for six years, turned down a deal last summer and says he will look for “the most interesting project” — be that at Wolves or elsewhere — and seems more likely to move on than not. Bruno Lage will see it as more important to keep Moutinho, an important, experienced figure in the dressing room.

The injury-prone Fernando Marcal is expected to move on. John Ruddy, like last year, will wait until the summer to weigh up his options.

Tim Spiers

(Top photos: Getty Images/Design: Sam Richardson)

Replies - Newest Posts First (Show In Chronological Order)

North Bank 5:05 Wed May 11
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Surprising that no-one has mentioned Lingard, still a top player and would certainly improve the side, we need some players who would push for a first team place so would take Origi & Tarkowski and loo to keep Ogy from our out of contracts

ludo21 2:42 Wed May 11
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
BillC79 3:18 Tue May 10

I’d have Kouyate back as cover

Yes, so would I, he seemed to do well at Palace after stagnating here. Not sure how old he is now but better back up than Kral (I assume!) if he would be happy in that role.

daveyg 7:49 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Steve and others.
None of the players mentioned are any better than what we have.
Gross was ridiculed for much of the season at Brighton only just come good. I've seen him play and he's slow, Noble would beat him for pace.
Origi will frustrate, many think Antonio is frustrating, watch Origi play for us and you'll want Hugill back.
We need better than those mentioned. Quality of quantity

Nagel 7:12 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Nketiah's probably wise enough to realise that he'll still be a bench sitter at Arsenal next year. He started the last 5 games but they were his first league starts all season, even with Lacazette barely scoring, and he was only getting about 10 mins a game as a sub before that, and not even making the subs bench when Aubamayeng was still there, so it looks like he's only getting a run out now to help convince him to sign a new contract.

dealcanvey 5:11 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Be surprised if Arsenal let Lacazette and Nketiah go.

The latter looked a handful against us!

Stevethehammer 4:53 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Tarkowski and Origi
Solves 2 problems and relatively cheap. We can hopefully offer European football to them and Origi would surely get more game time then he ever has.
Pascal Gross aswell would be good cover, decent player.
I know he hasn't done much since moving to Newcastle but I'd like us to try and get someone like Jamal Lewis. Was very highly rated when at Norwich and would give competition to Cresswell next year and wouldn't cost the earth.

Matthew Holmes 4:12 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Tomkins back to us
Ben foster

Go Daves!

BillC79 3:18 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
I’d have Kouyate back as cover

RoyalDocksGK 2:56 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Pascal Gross
James Tarkowski
Divok Origi

Nagel 2:24 Tue May 10
Re: Long article! Who is out of contact in the league this summer
Cheers Irish.

Seems like a better crop of freebies available this year than most. Be nice if we can pick up one or two of the better ones, given how much squad rebuilding we need to do.

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