Ah, the January window. Managers trying to fix their broken teams to save their season. Forget all of that though, the real fun is in the scramble for free transfers.
In six months, players across the country see their deals expire and teams are already laying the groundwork for potential signings for nothing. Some even go as far as to pen pre-contract agreements.
Here are the 10 biggest names in the Premier League who are available on a free and a few in Europe worth keeping an eye on too.
James Milner -Liverpool
Few would have anticipated James Milner’s improved reputation when he moved to Liverpool. But he is ageing like a fine wine, getting better as the years go by, and there will be plenty of suitors when his contract does expire.
He has done this before, at the end of his time at Manchester City. It remains to be seen where he might go, although it would not be a surprise if he’s keeping an eye on boyhood club Leeds’ fortunes in the Championship.
Juan Mata -Man United
Juan Mata has had a good season and one thing is clear, Manchester United are weaker without him in the side. Now they risk losing him for nothing at the end of the season, and neither Ole Gunnar Solskjaer nor his permanent replacement will be particularly happy about that. Expect any team looking for a No 10 or a wide midfielder to come calling if he does not pen fresh terms.
Aaron Ramsey -Arsenal
Arsenal may come to regret the manner in which the Aaron Ramsey situation has been handled. He agreed new terms before Unai Emery’s side suddenly withdrew the offer. Now he is being coveted by PSG, Juventus, Real Madrid, Inter Milan and Bayern Munich, all teams Arsenal would love to compete with. It seems as though PSG have a slight advantage, but it could all change between now and the summer.
Cesc Fabregas -Chelsea
There were fond farewells from Cesc Fabregas at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night. He has had success at Chelsea but, no longer first choice, it is time to move on. While his contract runs out in the summer, it seems as though he will be moving to Monaco in this window for a fee as Thierry Henry looks to rescue a terrible campaign for the principality club.
David Luiz -Chelsea
The Brazilian is a key man for Maurizio Sarri after being welcomed back into the fold. He may fall foul of Chelsea’s policy of only offering one-year extensions after the age of 30. The 31-year-old would prefer a longer deal. Willian urged the club to tie down his compatriot this week, saying: “For me, I want him to stay.”
Vincent Kompany -Man City
Injuries no longer seem to be the great problem they once were for Vincent Kompany, although he has been sidelined recently. That means he should be a target for a number of clubs. However, he has already spoken this season about wanting to extend his stay at the Etihad Stadium and if City were to offer him a new deal, it’s unlikely the Brussels-born defender would do anything but remain.
Daniel Sturridge -Liverpool
Daniel Sturridge was probably not expected to have much of a say on the title race this season. His wondergoal against Chelsea was, however, key to Liverpool reaching this stage unbeaten. He has proven his fitness, keeping a regular place on the bench and coming into the side when required. Liverpool may now offer him a new deal, with Sevilla, Valencia, Monaco, and Inter Milan keen.
Ander Herrera -Man United
Ander Herrera has been clear in his desire to stay at Manchester United. He’s also been playing regularly since Solskjaer took charge as caretaker manager. Still, while talks are ongoing, no agreement has been reached. His boyhood club Athletic Bilbao are also interested in bringing him back to the Basque region at the end of the season and he could be tempted.
Olivier Giroud -Chelsea
It feels like Olivier Giroud has barely even been at Chelsea for a year and there is good reason, he only moved there last January. Still, his contract expires in six months. He is in the same boat as Luiz, only really eligible for a one-year extension at Stamford Bridge. If another option arrives that offers him more security, it would not be a surprise to see him switch.
Mousa Dembele -Tottenham
There was a stage in the very recent past when Mousa Dembele was considered to be one of the best midfielders in Europe. He has not, however, featured for Spurs since November 3 and they seem to be coping without him. He’s a target for Inter Milan and Juventus, and it would not be a surprise to see whichever team misses out on Ramsey, possibly both, go for him.
Adrien Rabiot -PSG
Adrien Rabiot seems to be Barcelona-bound. Even so, Tottenham have been credited with an interest in the wavy-haired young playmaker, and Barcelona did recently deny they had agreed a deal with him. Seems to be clearly out of the door and has been dropped by PSG.
Diego Godin -Atletico
Veteran he might be, but few defenders on the planet can compete with Diego Godin, who tends to leave a trail of broken strikers in his wake. He would immediately fit into Premier League life.
Filipe Luis -Atletico Madrid
Remember Filipe Luis’ spell at Chelsea? Few people do. He returned to Atletico Madrid pretty swiftly, but there’s no denying that he’d be a useful option for any team in England.
Arjen Robben -Bayern
How about a Premier League return for Arjen Robben? No longer the player he was at Chelsea, he’d still give most sides in the division a real boost. -DAILYMAIL