The dissatisfied stars whose prospects aren’t improving…

Ian Watson

Manchester City: John Stones
The centre-back suffered some unfortunate luck with injuries last season, after a terrific start to the campaign initially silenced some doubters following an error-strewn debut year at City. But when Stones was fit, Guardiola favoured Nicolas Otamendi and Vincent Kompany together, with Aymeric Laporte arriving in January to stir things up even more.

“I don’t know how long I will be here in Manchester, but as long as I’m here, John Stones will be with us,” said Pep Guardiola when questioned over rumours City were willing to listen to offers this summer. So the England defender may not be cast aside this summer but by no means is he also considered first choice. A decent World Cup with England will help his cause, but Stones needs more than the 16 Premier League starts he managed last season..


Manchester United: Marcus Rashford
There was a stat doing the rounds in March that no player had played more games in all competitions for Manchester United under Jose Mourinho than Rashford. But the academy graduate is 14th on the list of Premier League starts over the last two seasons and comfortably the manager’s most-used substitute, with almost a season’s worth of appearances off the bench.

Rashford needs more starts and, arguably, he deserves them too. But Mourinho clearly doesn’t fancy him as his type of centre forward, while Alexis Sanchez’s arrival in January is another roadblock on Rashford’s career path at Old Trafford. Some have urged the 20-year-old to leave his boyhood club, which seems a most unlikely prospect. For now, at least…


Arsenal: Jack Wilshere
‘Pissed off’ appears to be the midfielder’s default mood, but Wilshere is entitled to feel aggrieved at the direction his career has taken. That is not to say he shouldn’t shoulder a portion of the blame, but the fact we do not yet know where he will be playing next season highlights his frustration at his status at the Emirates.

Injuries remained a factor last season, but the fact he played 18 of 20 League Cup and Europa League matches hints that Wenger saw him as the first name on his second team sheet. Unai Emery has reportedly decided that he would like to keep Wilshere for the coming season, partly because of the economics involved, but the 26-year-old has a career-defining decision before him.


Liverpool: Adam Lallana
The attacking midfielder is in danger of becoming the player Liverpool forgot. Last season was largely decimated by injuries, and though his Champions League final appearance off the bench was his 15th of the campaign, he managed only one Premier League start. When he did play, he looked way off the pace.

Even if his body had not let him down, Lallana would have been back up to Jurgen Klopp’s frightening front three or increasingly strong midfield (Naby Keita and Fabinho). Where does Lallana fit in?


Chelsea: Danny Drinkwater
Ross Barkley has had a shocker since his January move but many of his problems can be attributed to his fitness woes. Drinkwater too had a season bookended by injuries but the time in between saw the £35million recruit fail to convince Antonio Conte that he deserved greater involvement than five Premier League starts during a campaign that Tiemoue Bakayoko was in the manager’s XI on 24 occasions.

Drinkwater was hoping that Conte’s exit might wipe his slate clean but, like the rest of us, the 28-year-old midfielder is no clearer on who will be picking the Chelsea team. Whoever it may be, Drinkwater is likely to remain disappointed, and with few suitors likely to give Chelsea their money back, it could be a loan move away that grants the title winner the starts he needs to rebuild his reputation.


Tottenham: Danny Rose
Rose received widespread praise for speaking about his battle with depression this season, which was rather more well received than his frank honesty a year ago, when he claimed to be underpaid and undervalued by Tottenham.

An injury-hit campaign has seen former England first-choice and two-time pick for PFA Team of the Year fall behind Ben Davies in the pecking order at Spurs and reports suggest Mauricio Pochettino is on the hunt for another left-sided defender. Last season, Rose watched 10 Premier League games from the bench – the same number as those he played a part in – and he won’t be backwards in coming forwards to Pochettino if his status shows little sign of improving.


Real Madrid: Mateo Kovacic 
The Croatia midfielder will consider the World Cup as his shop window as he looks to play a greater role for a club than the 10 La Liga starts he was limited to last season.

Kovacic is reportedly waiting to see who will be in real’s dugout next term but Zinedine Zidane’s exit has apparently only hastened his likely departure. Juventus are still sniffing around the former Inter Milan midfielder, but they won’t be tabling the 75million euros that Real rejected last summer.


Barcelona: Andre Gomes
The Portugal midfielder was branded Marca’s ultimate failure in 2016/17, and last term wasn’t much better. “It has turned into a kind of hell,” Gomes said of his Barcelona career, with seven starts in La Liga and the Champions League being topped up by another four in Copa del Rey. His 1185 minutes on the pitch produced a single assist.

“I don’t feel good on the pitch, I am not enjoying what I am doing,” he said, suggesting a fresh start is required. Juventus, Lazio, Tottenham and Man Utd have been linked with the possibility of offering Gomes just that all the while it looks increasingly likely that the 25-year-old is finished at the Nou Camp.


Juventus: Claudio Marchisio
The Turin-born academy graduate is having to contemplate the possibility of leaving his hometown club after a season during which he made only nine Serie A starts and was left to watch Juve’s Champions League adventure from the bench.

The 32-year-old’s prospects are not helped by the imminent arrival of Emre Can, while it seems Juventus are also open to signing another midfielder. It looks so bleak that his representatives have reached the point where they are talking about a pay-off for him to walk away from the final two years of his contract.


Bayern Munich: Javi Martinez
The Spain midfielder finished the season p*ssed off at his declining status at the Allianz Arena but Martinez is hopeful the arrival of Niko Kovac as coach will change that.

Martinez started 18 Bundesliga games but the 29-year-old was benched for the biggest game of the season – the Champions League semi-final second leg at Real Madrid. Life won’t get any easier for the versatile Basque midfielder next season, with Leon Goretzka incoming, Arturo Vidal returning to fitness and Thiago Alcantara hoping to rediscover his mojo at the World Cup, which Martinez will be watching from afar.


PSG: Javier Pastore
Marco Verratti’s PSG future appears in doubt after a year of stagnation for the Italy midfielder, but Pastore has already accepted his fate after a season during which he completed 90 minutes in Ligue 1 or the Champions League on only four occasions.

Even Neymar’s injury didn’t improve Pastore’s fortunes, with the 28-year-old having incensed Unai Emery by returning late from the winter break. The Argentinian playmaker could follow Emery to London, though Pastore may be hoping for a better offer than West Ham as he approaches the final year of his contract at PSG.

Ian Watson