As we inch towards the opening of the summer transfer window, the futures of a host of top players around Europe have been thrown into doubt by the coronavirus outbreak. In this article, we take a look at some of the most high-profile stars entering the final months of their current contracts.
Football at a standstill
The worldwide COVID-19 (more commonly referred to as coronavirus) outbreak has of course been headline news across the globe for several weeks now.
As of this evening, over 270,000 people around the planet had tested positive for COVID-19.
Of these individuals, over 11,000 have passed away.
The scale of the outbreak has inevitably also had major ramifications on the sporting world, with football having been hit particularly hard.
The ‘top-5’ European leagues have all been brought to a complete standstill over the course of the last week, as authorities attempt to contain further spread of the virus.
The Premier League, FA, EFL and WSL have collectively agreed to postpone the professional game in England
— Premier League (@premierleague) March 13, 2020
The unprecedented COVID-19 situation, meanwhile, as outlined above, has also thrown the futures of players throughout Europe into doubt.
A raft of stars are currently tied down by deals set to expire on the 30th of June.
Incredibly, this could actually see some of these individuals on the move before the campaign comes to an end, if the resumption of football pushes fixtures back as late as July.
Free agency pool
Below, we take a look at some of the most high-profile names who could be left in such a situation over the coming months, in the form of 2020’s free agent class:
Speculation surrounding the future of Chelsea attacker Willian has been rampant for some time now.
The Brazilian admitted earlier this month that negotiations over extending his time at Stamford Bridge had reached an impasse:
‘The situation with Chelsea is still that way. They offered me two (years). I demanded three. And it stopped there.’
As such, a summer transfer now appears almost inevitable.
Another of Chelsea’s stars who could yet move on for nothing this summer comes in the form of Olivier Giroud.
The Frenchman was hotly-tipped for a January departure, after falling behind both Tammy Abraham and Michy Batshuayi in the attacking pecking order of the Blues.
Hearing Olivier Giroud is now on Spurs’ radar – can’t really see Chelsea letting him move there even if they pursue interest, but might be worth keeping an eye on
— Dean Jones (@DeanJonesBR) January 28, 2020
However, following an upturn in both game-time and form over the last couple of months, Giroud could yet stay put, despite rumoured interest from Serie A high-flyers Lazio.
Swedish icon Ibrahimovic made the return to Europe in January, on the back of a prolific spell in MLS with the LA Galaxy.
The now 38-year-old rejoined former club AC Milan, and has since gone on to notch a respectable 4 goals and an assist in 10 appearances for the Rossoneri.
However, it currently remains altogether unclear whether those in charge at the San Siro intend to extend Ibra’s stay, meaning he could yet be on the move once more this summer.
Brazilian veteran Thiago Silva has long stood as an absolutely integral cog in the backline of Ligue 1 champions PSG.
However, with the stopper set to turn 35 this summer, and his current deal at the Parc des Princes due to expire in June, Silva’s future is looking more and more likely to lie away from Paris.
A return to AC Milan cannot be ruled out, with the South American’s agent having recently admitted that all options remain on the table:
‘He has always had a great relationship with Milan. And if we don’t renew with PSG, everything is possible.’
Versatile Belgian attacker Mertens recently equalled Marek Hamsik as Napoli’s all-time scorer.
However, the soon-to-be 33-year-old could yet be set for a San Paolo exit this summer.
While Napoli’s form had improved considerably under Gennaro Gattuso ahead of Serie A being brought to a halt last week, Mertens may be tempted by the prospect of one final major pay day, as the gifted technician enters the twilight years of his career.
The Chinese Super League remains an option, though Chelsea were also named as keen suitors in January.
One of the few names on this list who’s summer exit from their current club appears certain is Adam Lallana.
Amid another injury-blighted campaign for the Englishman, it was recently reported by the Liverpool Echo that Lallana has not been offered a new contract by Liverpool.
Lazio, Leicester and even Arsenal have all been named as potential landing spots for the experienced midfielder.
#Leicester and #Lazio are interested in a summer move for Adam #Lallana. They are keen on signing him as a free agent at the end of this season, when his contract with #Liverpool expires. #transfers #LFC #LCFC
— Nicolò Schira (@NicoSchira) February 23, 2020
Perhaps the most in-demand individual on this list comes in the form of Edinson Cavani.
After reportedly making his intentions to depart PSG clear during the winter window, Atletico Madrid emerged as the clear front-runners to strike a deal for the Uruguayan.
However, in the end, somewhat surprisingly, Cavani was forced to stay put, despite Mauro Icardi’s hot start to life in the French capital.
A divorce upon the expiration of his deal this summer, though, looks inevitable.
The 3rd and final Chelsea star on this list is Pedro Rodriguez.
Much like Olivier Giroud, after being left out in the cold over the early months of the season, Pedro had actually begun to reestablish himself as an important contributor in Frank Lampard’s squad in the weeks leading up to the coronavirus outbreak.
In fact, the Blues’ latest outing saw the former Barcelona man notch a goal and assist versus Everton.
With Hakim Ziyech set to reinforce the flanks at Stamford Bridge in the summer, and Jadon Sancho continuing to be heavily linked with a Chelsea switch, though, Pedro moving on looks highly likely as things stand.
The future of Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen has long remained up in the air.
The experienced Belgian has been in and out of the starting XI in north London since the appointment of Jose Mourinho, with former club Ajax having made their interest in a reunion clear ahead of next season.
However, just last month, Vertonghen’s agent, Tom De Mul, confirmed that that the Spurs star was still taking the possibility of remaining in the English capital into consideration:
‘We consider everything. There is a lot of interest for Jan, certainly as a free agent, but Tottenham also remains an interesting option for us. The door is still open.’
While Juventus stopper Chiellini must be included on this list due to his expiring deal, it is common knowledge that the Bianconeri legend will soon put pen-to-paper on fresh terms at the Allianz Stadium.
— Romeo Agresti (@romeoagresti) February 18, 2020
Dries Mertens isn’t the only long-time attacker whom Serie A giants Napoli could be forced to part ways with this summer.
Jose Callejon, despite having turned 33 last month, continues to act as a key component in the frontline of the Partenopei, having started in 19 of the club’s 26 league outings this season.
However, the Spaniard’s current contract is entering its final months, with Callejon’s agent having admitted earlier today that an agreement over the terms of a new deal is yet to be found:
‘At this time there is no agreement, the two positions are very respectable and there has never been a discussion of any kind between the parties.’
‘There is mutual affection, we have lived together for many years and these situations are part of football.’
Sevilla and Aston Villa, meanwhile, have both been named as potential destinations, should the veteran opt to move on.
The final inclusion on our 2020 free agent list comes in the form of David Silva.
Manchester City icon Silva has long stood as one of the Premier League’s most beloved players.
However, with the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva to compete with for a spot in the Sky Blues’ midfield, and Phil Foden beginning to push for a regular starting berth, it was confirmed last summer that this season would stand as the former Valencia man’s last at the Etihad.
David Beckham’s Inter Miami, meanwhile, are expected to snap Silva up upon the expiration of his contract in June.