Love it or list it: One per club with one year on contract

Date published: Thursday 10th June 2021 8:25 - Sarah Winterburn

With just a year left on their contracts, there are decisions to be made about these players, including Paul Pogba and John Stones.


ARSENAL: Alexandre Lacazette
Selling your top scorer sounds objectively unhinged but this is Arsenal and they a) don’t have an awful lot of money to spend despite b) needing something of an overhaul and c) are understandably petrified of going down the Ozil/Aubameyang route of throwing a whole lot of money at a 30-year-old only to see their performances fall off a cliff. So if Atletico Madrid or Juventus offer a decent wedge then Lacazette will be off after a four-year spell that has never quite edged into the realms of success.


ASTON VILLA: Kortney Hause
Is Kortney Hause happy being the third-choice centre-half at an upwardly mobile football club? Are Aston Villa happy to have Kortney Hause as their third-choice centre-half? If the answer is yes to both those questions, then expect Villa to quietly take their option for an extra year on the former Wolves man’s contract.


BRENTFORD: Pontus Jansson
He’s the Brentford captain and he is finally in the Premier League. Of course they will bloody keep him; if only to hear the ‘welcome’ he will get at Elland Road.


BRIGHTON: Pascal Gross
Only four Premier League first-teamers create more chances than Brighton’s Pascal Gross, while only eight players have been credited with more than his eight assists this season. It should be a no-brainer to keep hold of the German, who made our best uncapped Premier League XI for services to the Seagulls but never the Germans.


BURNLEY: James Tarkowski
Trouble is brewing for Burnley, who have eight first-teamers out of contract in 2022. Chief among those is Tarkowski, who has declared his proposed Clarets extension to be “nowhere near good enough”. There has been reported interest from Leicester and West Ham, both of which can offer both European football and more money. “If someone wants to write a cheque for an immeasurable amount, then that might be different, but at the moment he’s a Burnley player and he’s done very well again for us this season,” said manager Sean Dyche.


CHELSEA: Antonio Rudiger
So, so close to leaving Chelsea last summer and then absolutely central to their revival and resounding success under Thomas Tuchel, the German is expected to be offered a pretty hefty new contract, along with captain Cesar Azpilicueta. He was frankly phenomenal as the Blues reached and then triumphed in the Champions League final.


CRYSTAL PALACE: Cheikhou Kouyate
Converted to centre-back by Roy Hodgson, Kouyate played more Premier League minutes than any other Palace player last season. But he will turn 32 and Palace are trying desperately hard to bring down their average age and their average wage. The new Palace manager – whoever he may be – has an awful lot of decisions to make about a dwindling squad.


EVERTON: James Rodriguez
In April there was talk of a new contract for the Colombian but by June his beloved Carlo Ancelotti had left for Real Madrid, leaving him contemplating his own future at the club. The question might not be whether a new Everton manager wants to keep him but whether any other club in Europe want to take on his reported £140,000-a-week wages.

James Rodriguez Everton


LEEDS UNITED: Laurens De Bock
Who? Indeed. De Bock joined Leeds United in January 2018 and last played for Leeds United in March 2018. He spent last season on loan at Zulte Waregem and latest reports suggest he could yet sign permanently even though they did not exercise the automatic option to buy. List, list, list.


LEICESTER CITY: Marc Albrighton
Having tied down Danny Ward, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Jonny Evans to new terms recently, Leicester’s next contract priority is ensuring they reward one of their last remaining Premier League winners for another stellar season’s service which ended with him playing at wing-back. “He’s a very valuable member of our squad,” said coach Brendan Rodgers last month. “We haven’t spoken anything on it yet, but he’s certainly a guy I love having here.”


LIVERPOOL: James Milner
He will be 36 when his next contract expires but you would not bet against him staying another season; he actually played marginally more in 2020/21 than in 2019/20. The smart money might be on him taking some kind of player/coach role that would eventually take him into fourth on the all-time Premier League appearances list behind only Gareth Barry, Ryan Giggs and Frank Lampard.


‘JOHN STONES is in advanced talks with Manchester City over a new five-year contract worth up to £39million,’ it says here. What a truly remarkable revival for a player who Pep Guardiola would have happily sold last summer. And he is still only 27 so he could conceivably be at the very top of his profession for the next five years (assuming Ruben Dias stays that long to hold his hand).


The big one. According to recent reports, Manchester United fear that the Frenchman is keen to run down his contract and leave on a free transfer. They should absolutely fear that scenario as that looks by far the likeliest, with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus in no position to pay a transfer fee and his enormous wages this summer. But on a free transfer, he becomes the hottest of hot properties. Frankly, he would be a fool to sign.

Pogba F365


Remember when Manchester United were linked with a £50m move for Sean Longstaff? It did not seem so ridiculous considering they had already paid a similar figure for Fred. But Longstaff remained at Newcastle and is nowhere near the top of the midfield pecking order, starting just 15 Premier League games last season. Contract talks are said to have been put on hold, with the club perhaps assuming that his black-and-white blood will keep him in Newcastle.


NORWICH CITY: Todd Cantwell
Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber claims he is not worried about Cantwell running down his contract, saying that “what you get with Todd is, being a local lad, a high level of loyalty, to the club. He’s been well looked after by the club and given a great opportunity.” But Norwich will be desperate not to lose Cantwell for free so will absolutely accept any decent offer made this summer by a top-half Premier League club. This is a club that would quite happily love or list their impressive young players for the right price.


“I’ve got a contract until the summer of 2022,” said Ings last month, but reports say he has been offered and dismissed a new contract because he has heard about interest from Manchester City and Manchester United and absolutely does not want to miss that particular boat. It seems that a bid approaching £30m would be impossible for the Saints to turn down, with the alternative being to lose their top scorer for nothing next summer.


The astonishing thing here is that Aurier has apparently already been a Tottenham player for four years, which seems inconceivable. As such, he has just one year remaining on his contract and there is pretty much zero chance of the club giving him a new one. “Everyone knows that if I wanted to extend my contract at Tottenham, I’d have already done so,” said maverick right-back Aurier, who is bound back for PSG for about half the price Spurs paid.


WATFORD: Will Hughes
“That’s in my agent’s and the club’s hands. That’s not something I’m really concerned about and it’s not something that I’ve really thought about. I’ll give my all for Watford until my contract is up,” says the midfielder, who has no intention of playing anywhere else unless he is forcibly removed from the premises. He is loving life under Xisco Munoz, who made Hughes a key part of his promotion side.


WEST HAM: Andriy Yarmolenko
Ta-ra fella. After starting only one Premier League game all season (in which he was hauled off at half-time), the Ukrainian – who made our worst Premier League XI at the European Championship – will be sold to anybody who can throw £5m in the direction of the London Stadium this summer.


WOLVES: Joao Moutinho
It’s been beautiful but Moutinho will turn 35 in September and if he wants to return to Portugal, Wolves will not stand in his way. If they did, he would just dink the ball over their heads into the path of Adama Traore.


Euro 2020 is finally here – and what better way to celebrate than with a preview show to mark the launch of our new multi-sport website Planet Sport?

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