Just In: Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi lead the stars who could leave for free in the summer

Just In: Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi lead the stars who could leave for free in the summer

A record-breaking £815million was spent by Premier League clubs across an unforgettable January transfer window.

 The likes of World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez, Ukrainian star Mikhailo Mudryk and want-away Belgian Leandro Trossard found new teams in phenomenal deals.

 But despite the sheer wealth currently seen in the transfer market, there are still several household names that could be picked up for free in the summer.

 In fact, there are so many stars that are out of contract in June, that even one five-time Champions League winner would struggle to make the free agents best XI.

 So, with the clock ticking, agents starting to make links and managers beginning to sweat, Sportsmail compiles a Free Agent XI of the best players whose contracts expire at the end of the season.

 GOALKEEPER - David de Gea

 The 32-year-old Spaniard has been the Manchester United No 1 for more than a decade now, cementing his place as a legend at Old Trafford.

 De Gea has made an extraordinary 516 appearances for Man United and is enjoying a stellar season under Erik ten Hag, racking up 13 clean sheets so far.

 But with the Spain international out of contract in the summer, his time at Old Trafford may finally be coming to an end.

 United triggered one-year contract extensions for Marcus Rashford, Luke Shaw, Diogo Dalot and Fred.

 But while talks do still continue, De Gea is yet to put pen to paper on a new deal at Old Trafford and is destined to be a free agent.

 RIGHT BACK - Hector Bellerin

 The 27-year-old's career has stagnated since winning three FA Cups with Arsenal.

 Bellerin was a popular figure in the Emirates, making 239 appearances, but his contract was mutually terminated after he fell out of favor under Mikel Arteta.

 After returning to Barcelona on a free transfer, the Spaniard never failed to get going at the Nou Camp.

 On deadline day, Bellerin joined Sporting Lisbon until the end of the season, where he will become a free agent once more in the summer.

 CENTER-BACK - Evan Ndicka

 The Frenchman has been one of Frankfurt's standout players in his five years at the club but has recently refused to sign a new deal with his current contract set to expire in the summer.

 At 23-years-old, Ndicka will surely be picked up quickly, with the likes of title-challenging Arsenal reportedly interested.

 Ndicka has spent five seasons with the German club and has made 165 appearances in all competitions for them.

 Despite representing France at every level of youth football, the central defender is yet to receive a senior cap for Les Bleus.

 CENTER-BACK - Inigo Martinez

 The 31-year-old Spain international has been a rock in the Athletic Bilbao defense for five years.

 After making 239 appearances for the Basque side, Martinez looks set to leave for free in the summer.

 He is out of contract at the end of June and with Barcelona hunting around for centre-backs, he could be on his way to the Nou Camp.

 Martinez has struggled with knee and foot injuries this season but is an established defender with heaps of experience.

LEFT-BACK - Alejandro Grimaldo

 After just losing World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez to Chelsea, Benfica are also set to see Alejandro Grimaldo depart in the summer.

 The left-back has refused to sign a contract with the Portuguese giants and will be a free agent in the summer.

 Bayern Munich and AC Milan have both expressed interest in the 27-year-old who has made 283 appearances for Benfica since joining in 2016.

 It is hard to believe a product of Barcelona's La Masia academy could be snatched up for free soon.


 He might not have featured much this season for Chelsea, but are there many defensive midfielders better than N'Golo Kante?

 Kante has endured a torrid time with injuries over the last two seasons and is currently sidelined with a hamstring injury.

 The 31-year-old has achieved greatness in the game, winning back-to-back Premier League with underdogs Leicester in 2015-16, and Chelsea the following season.

 He also won a Champions League in 2021 and a World Cup with France in 2018, highlighting just how incredible it would be to see him become a free agent in June.

 Kante, who is as likable on the pitch as he is off it, has been engaged in contract talks for months but nothing has come to fruition yet.


 It's hard to think any manager would complain if they had five-time Champions League winner Luka Modric paired in a midfield with Kante.

 At 37-years-old, the Croatian is coming to the end of his career and with his contract expiring in the summer, he has been linked with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo's Al-Nasser.

 Modric is a true household name of football - and was rewarded for his achievements by picking up the Ballon d'Or in 2018, which ended a decade-long era of football's most coveted prize being shared between Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

 After leaving Tottenham in 2012, Modric has gone on to make 460 appearances for Real Madrid.

 But with Dani Ceballos, Fede Valverde and Eduardo Camavinga starting to appear more regularly, could this be the end of Modric's love affair with Real Madrid?


 The German star was named Manchester City captain in the summer after the departure of Brazilian stalwart Fernandinho and remains a regular under Pep Guardiola.

 But with just six months left on his contract, Gundogan is about to be one of the steals of the summer window.

 The 32-year-old was Guardiola's first signing as City manager, joining the club in 2016 for £20million from Borussia Dortmund.

 He has won four Premier League titles during his six years in Manchester, as well as four League Cups and an FA Cup.

 With City reportedly happy to let Gundogan seek a new challenge and snap up a replacement, Barcelona have declared interest in the German.

 RIGHT WINGER - Lionel Messi

 It defies belief to think that Lionel Messi could be stolen on a free transfer yet again.

 In 2021, Argentine legend joined PSG for free after more than 20 years of life at Barcelona, ​​coming through the youth set up to achieve greatness on the biggest stage.

 And while his wages will of course be a barrier to most clubs, Messi is out of contract again in the summer and could go elsewhere.

 Reports claim that the World Cup winner may continue with the Parisian giants but the club are yet to pin him down.

 The 35-year-old has recently returned to Ligue 1 action after leading Argentina to World Cup glory - and finally winning the one trophy that had eluded him for so long.

 It's clear that Messi can still play at the highest level and while Barcelona have emerged as a front runner to bring him back, he has also been linked with MLS side Inter Miami and Newell's Old Boys.

Striker - Karim Benzema

 It wouldn't be a bad side having Karim Benzema flanked by Lionel Messi, would it?

 The 2022 Ballon d'Or winner recently announced his retirement from international football for France, but could he also be about to leave Real Madrid?

 The Frenchman is also out of contract in the summer and after making more than 600 appearances for Madrid, could he venture elsewhere?

 There will be a battle for the 35-year-old's signature if Madrid fails to offer him a new contract.

 Like Modric, Benzema has also won five Champions Leagues and has been a pivotal player in Real Madrid's domination of Europe.

 LEFT WINGER - Marco Reus

 There is no doubt the German is one of the most gifted players of his generation, but he has often been plagued by horrendous injuries.

 The Borussia Dortmund star is out of contract in June and he has admitted that he is contemplating where his future lies.

 Sportsmail revealed that Al-Nasr are hoping to persuade Reus to snub interest from the Premier League and head to Saudi Arabia.

 Reus has stayed loyal to his hometown club for more than a decade while seeing a string of teammates such as Robert Lewandowski, Ilkay Gundogan and Erling Haaland be tempted away.

 Reus' representatives Dirk Hebel and Darren Freeman were also spotted at Old Trafford during last month's Manchester derby, should the German wish to venture to the Premier League.

 Not many managers or players would want to come up against the Free Agents XI, considering the wealth of talent on display.

 But remarkably, there are other household names that don't even make the cut.

 Modric's Real Madrid midfield partner Toni Kroos is also out of contract in the summer, as are Premier League stars Youri Tielemans and Wilfried Zaha.

 Meanwhile Thomas Lemar, Marcus Thuram and Adrien Rabiot are also among the high-profile names about to leave for no fee.

 It's clear that it is going to be one of the most exciting summers in football, with the futures of several footballing stars yet to be established.

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