A scary-looking Premier League XI of contract concerns…

Ian Watson
Youri Tielemans, Paul Pogba, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane all have contract talks coming up.

You could pick three-quarters of Chelsea’s defence and Liverpool’s entire front three in this XI of PL players giving their clubs food for thought over their contracts ahead of their expiry next summer or in 2022.


GK: David De Gea (Manchester United)
It will be fascinating to see how Manchester United approach De Gea’s next contract given the headache the last one gave them after making the Spain stopper their highest-paid player. Those terms expire in 2023, by which time De Gea will have served a 12-year stretch in United’s goal. The Red Devils have the option to extend the deal for a further year but with his enormous wages, that looks far less attractive now than it did when he put pen to paper in 2019.  The No.1 is never going to be offered a renewal on the same terms, nor will he get the same elsewhere as he approaches his 32nd birthday. United may well look to sell next summer to claw back a fee, in which case his return to form is a very good thing indeed.


RB: Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
The Chelsea captain is in the final year of his contract and the Blues will have to balance out the skipper’s importance to Thomas Tuchel with their aversion to offering contracts to players in their 30s. Azpilicueta will be 33 next August but he has played in every Premier League game so far this season, despite Chelsea’s other options at right-back.


CB: Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Three-quarters of this back four could be made up of Chelsea players, with Andreas Christensen joining Azpilicueta and Rudiger as potential free agents at the end of this season. The expectation is that Christensen will sign a renewal but Rudiger’s representatives appear to be driving a harder bargain. The Germany defender is reportedly ‘disappointed’ by Chelsea’s latest offer and Bayern Munich’s interest is sure to turn the 28-year-old’s head.


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CB: James Tarkowski (Burnley)
Burnley have been trying to tie Tarkowski down to new terms for the last two years but, in the defender’s words, their offers have been “nowhere near good enough”. In the meantime, Burnley have stubbornly refused to entertain interest from West Ham and Leicester but they will have no choice but to watch the 28-year-old pick his next club unless they come up with an offer out of the blue in the next few months. With Ben Mee also approaching free agency, Sean Dyche may have a defence to rebuild.


LB: Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
For all the talk of Jose Mourinho not being Shaw’s biggest fan, it was the former Manchester United manager who gave Shaw a new contract two months before he was axed as boss at Old Trafford. Those terms expire in 2023, though United chucked in their usual one-year option meaning they have some time before having to panic over Shaw’s status. Reports suggest that his form over the last year has given United the impetus to discuss a new deal.

Pogba Kante


LM: Paul Pogba (Manchester United)
There is rather more urgency over Pogba. The France star is out of contract at the end of the season, with United having already used their option to extend for a year. So they either need to dazzle Mino Raiola in the coming months or Pogba will be free to talk to foreign clubs in January. You know there’s no swift resolution in sight, not while Pogba has a documentary to play up for – the sequel to Antoine Griezmann’s sh*tshow.


CM: N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Kante’s Chelsea contract expires in 2023, by which time the midfield machine will be 32 years old, meaning there is unlikely to be anything more than an extra year on the table. Still, reports suggest the Blues are working on that new deal and, knowing Kante, it will probably be the easiest negotiation they have ever done.


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RM: Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
Leicester have been trying to avoid the prospect of Tielemans entering the final year of his contract, which is due to run until 2023, knowing full well there will be a queue across Europe of clubs looking to seize upon his looming free agency. But the Foxes still have a little time to come up with an offer Tielemans can’t refuse, even if the likes of Real Madrid and Juventus, as well as a host of Premier League clubs, continue to be linked with the Belgium star.


LF: Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
The Manchester City forward seems to have been in contract talks with the champions for the last 427 years yet it appears that the two parties are no closer to an agreement. Sterling’s slipping status at City won’t further his bargaining position, with Pep Guardiola handing the 26-year-old only two Premier League starts so far this season. Rumours of Barcelona’s interest won’t go away but, unless Joan Laporta has started sh*ting euros, then Sterling is unlikely to get more from Barca than he might at City.


CF: Mo Salah (Liverpool)
Salah’s recent performances only heighten the sense of urgency around Liverpool to get the Egyptian tied down to an extension. But it won’t come cheap. Some reports suggest Salah is looking for parity with the Premier League’s highest-paid players, which is hardly an unreasonable request given his current form. Liverpool, though, may struggle to match Kevin De Bruyne’s £385,000-a-week salary. This one will rumble on, with Europe’s biggest clubs keeping a very close eye on negotiations.


RF: Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
The Senegal star’s contract expires on the same day Salah’s does – as does Roberto Firmino’s – meaning Liverpool have plenty of work to do around the negotiating table. Apparently, with Mane, it’s already begun, with the Reds keen to tie down the forward on a deal worth £200,000 a week until 2025. With both Mane and Firmino turning 31 by the time their current deals expire, Michael Edwards must balance the desire to reward Liverpool’s current strikers with the need to freshen up their forward line.