Mbappé, Williams, Rabiot, Dier among top free agents in 2024
The list of high-profile players whose contracts expire in summer 2024 is not quite as impressive as it was a year ago, but there are still some big-name stars whose futures are far from being resolved.
The saga around Kylian Mbappé’s potential move to Real Madrid continues, though sources have told ESPN he’s in talks over signing a new deal (which has been enough to see him reintegrated into the first-team squad again.) The usual array of ageing players such as Luka Modric and Toni Kroos make another appearance as they enter the final year of their contracts, but there are some youngsters who could be snapped up for nothing if they don’t put pen to paper over the coming months.
Meanwhile, there are already a few players who have yet to find themselves new clubs after being released over the summer.
Here’s a rundown of the most coveted.
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David de Gea, 32, GK
The former Manchester United goalkeeper has been linked with a host of clubs, particularly those from Saudi Arabia. With no contract, his next move won’t be subject to any transfer deadlines, so expect it to happen once he gets a wage offer he can stomach.
After years of Real Madrid links, it was something of a surprise when the LaLiga giants opted to sign Kepa on loan instead, so De Gea may take his time.
Jesse Lingard, 30, AM/FW
Released by Nottingham Forest, the former Man United midfielder could rejoin West Ham after he impressed during a loan spell in 2020-21. Lingard has also caught the eye of Wolves and — you guessed it — a number of clubs from the Saudi Pro League.
Eden Hazard, 32, FW
In 2019, Hazard made a €100 million move to Real Madrid from Chelsea as one of the world’s top players. The Belgium international struggled with injury and form — scoring just seven goals in 76 games — and left Madrid in June by mutual consent after his contract was terminated a year early.
“I still feel capable of being a professional footballer; my body can take it,” Hazard told Belgium’s RTBF. But he will have to prove it. Otherwise you may see him retire soon.
AVAILABLE IN 2024
Kylian Mbappé, 24, FW, Paris Saint-Germain
One of the sagas of the summer. Mbappé signed a new three-year deal in 2022, spurning a free transfer to Real Madrid in the process, but it was revealed later that it was a two-year contract with a third year eligible only if the France international activated it. He chose not to and told club president Nasser Al-Khelaifi he wanted to leave, which saw him exiled from the first-team squad during the preseason tour in Japan.
PSG were open to offers and Al Hilal in Saudi Arabia’s Pro League made a world-record €300m bid, which was accepted by the club but rejected by Mbappé.
Eventually, the signing of Mbappé’s friend Ousmane Dembélé and the €90m exit of Neymar persuaded the 24-year-old to change his mind. He agreed to sign new terms — likely containing a release clause of around €100m to €150m — so the club can get a transfer fee when he does depart. Those terms have yet to be confirmed, so watch this space, but it’s likely he’ll be a Madrid player in the next 12 months — if they’ll have him.
Nico Williams, 21, FW, Athletic Club
Still only 21, Williams is a key player for Ernesto Valverde and Athletic would be loathe to lose him for nothing. The speedy winger has attracted glances from the Premier League, but is reported to be ready to sign a two-year extension with a release clause of €50m.
“Everything has a process and everything is going very well,” he told Relevo. “I want to send calm, that the people be calm that everything is going very well.”
Adrien Rabiot, 28, CM, Juventus
After months of speculation that he could leave for Man United or Barcelona, Rabiot signed a one-year extension to his Juve contract in June, but that just delayed a long-term decision over his future by another 12 months. The France international is a key player in Turin and fans will want him to sign up for longer.
Ian Maatsen, 21, LB, Chelsea
Maatsen rejected a £31m move to Burnley — where he spent last season on loan — on deadline day. But his future at Chelsea isn’t certain as Ben Chilwell is first choice at left-back and Marc Cucurella is still around as well. The club want him to sign a new contract, but probably only so they can recoup a transfer fee when they move him on.
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Kyle Walker, 34, RB, Man City
After almost leaving to join Bayern Munich, Walker is set to follow Bernardo Silva in signing a new contract at City. And if he sees out all three years, it will take him to a decade at the club he joined from Tottenham Hotspur in 2017.
“In the back of my head I always wanted to play for Man City, but I had to do what was right for me and my future and that was just whichever club gave me the most years,” he said. “Why should I walk away if I am going to get enough game time that’s right for me? That is all I want. I want to play football. I love the game and want to play, whether that’s here, Germany, Italy, Spain or in the Championship. I wanted to play football so if I don’t feel that I am getting enough game time, whether that is on X amount of pounds or no pounds, I just want to play football.
“The money, I don’t care about it. You might say that’s a cliché, but I don’t care about it. I am just worried about my happiness and playing football.”
Luka Modric, 37, CM, Real Madrid
Still going strong at the age of 37, Modric joined Madrid in 2012 and has won 23 trophies in 11 years at the Bernabeu. The Croatia international is no longer the central force he once was and has got added competition for places from Jude Bellingham, Eduardo Camavinga, Aurelien Tchouameni and Federico Valverde. He is not happy with his playing time though, with three appearances from the bench so far, so don’t rule out him extending his career elsewhere.
Meanwhile, Modric’s teammate Toni Kroos is a bit younger (33), but had already considered taking an early retirement before his improved form and fitness over the past two years convinced him to continue playing. However, the German midfielder has been clear that he will retire at Real Madrid, so no other club will get the benefit of his skills on a free transfer.
Eric Dier, 29, CB, Tottenham
Dier appears to not be a part of new boss Ange Postecoglou’s plans at Spurs, leaving him able to sign a pre-contract agreement with a club in Europe in January. Bayern were linked, after they signed his former teammate Harry Kane for €100m, while Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Fulham showed interest from the Premier League this summer. He could run his contract down and leave on a free, but it’s unlikely he’ll get much game time if 18-year-old summer signing Ashley Phillips is named ahead of him in the matchday squad.
Thiago, 32, CM, Liverpool
Liverpool have reshaped their entire midfield this summer, but the 32-year-old may also find himself ushered out of the exit door when his deal expires. Injuries have limited his impact, though the Spain international does bring valuable experience to a midfield that is now lacking it. The Saudi Pro League have poached a number of players from Anfield in recent months, and it could be a future destination for Thiago as well.
Alejandro Balde, 19, LB, Barcelona
Balde’s rise has been incredible in recent years as he is now Barca’s first-choice at left-back. The 19-year-old has also broken into the Spain squad, so there is little chance he will leave Camp Nou. In fact, despite interest from every elite club in Europe, Balde has agreed terms on a new long-term contract that he should sign soon.
Having only made his debut for the club last season, another youngster whose terms end next summer is 16-year-old winger Lamine Yamal. A star for Spain’s youth teams, he has been called up by Spain’s senior side and will become the youngest player (16 years and 57 days old) to ever represent the country if he plays against Georgia in a qualifying game for next summer’s European Championship on Sept. 8.
Don’t worry, Barca fans: Yamal is set to pen new terms as well, which should mean you can relax.