With the transfer window closed, the focus now turns to those players who heading into the final year of their current contracts. TEAMtalk assesses the future of the big names set for free agency.
Yaya ToureIt was never going to work with Yaya Toure and Pep Guardiola, was it? The 33-year-old has been named in Manchester City’s Premier League squad, but has been left out of the Citizens’ Champions League group stage plans which came as a shock to nobody.
Toure is going to squeeze every last penny out of the remaining months on his Manchester City contract before he departs at the end of the season. However, his motor-mouth agent Dimitri Seluk has confirmed he will be holding talks with various clubs in January.
“Yaya in January can sign a pre-contract agreement with clubs abroad,” Seluk told the Daily Mail.
“He will have many offers from clubs. China and America of course they want him but we will have a lot of offers from England and Europe.
“In January we will see. It is three months to wait — no problem. Yaya is a very professional guy.”
Getting paid £225,000-a-week to not play football? Of course it is no problem. Guardiola will finally get to see the back off Toure for a second time, but you sense it could get a whole lot uglier before then – especially if Toure’s birthday is forgotten again.
Zlatan IbrahimovicHe has barely been in Manchester for two minutes and the Premier League is already bowing down to his almighty presence. There were a few doubts as to whether he could handle England’s top-flight at 34 years of age and he has silenced those with simple, knowing grin.
After months of teasing, ‘Ibra’ finally revealed that Manchester United would be his next club after leaving PSG as a free agent and signed a one-year deal with an option of a second 12 months.
As it stands, Ibrahimovic would be free to restart the hype machine just after Christmas and if he continues his rich vein of goalscoring form then who knows what sort of eye-watering amounts could be on offer from the USA and China?
Jose Mourinho has already been asked about the super Swede’s contract situation, to which he replied: “His [Ibrahimovic] motivation is really high, so yes, I see him here, no doubts for the next two years.”
United fans and neutrals alike will be a lot more comfortable if the option of an extra year is taken up sooner rather than later, so his illustrious career can be savoured even more.
Santi CazorlaArsenal have a decision to make over the silky Spaniard as his contract begins to wind down, but he is currently making it a very easy one after slotting back seamlessly into midfield after a lengthy injury lay-off.
Cazorla will be 32 by the time January comes around and we all know of Arsene Wenger’s love for one-year contract extensions for those over the age of 30 who are deemed worthy enough to stay.
There would certainly be no complaints if he was to be offered a new deal. However, this season could easily be his Arsenal swansong. The Gunners are blessed with a plethora of midfield options and if a fully-fit Jack Wilshere is able to revitalise himself at Bournemouth then the squad sheet will only become more congested for next season.
Cazorla has already spoken about his desire to return his first club Villarreal and the time to put that deal into motion could well be on the horizon. It would be sad to see him depart the Premier League, yet the impending expiration on his current contract would make sense for all parties.
Branislav IvanovicAfter joining Chelsea in 2008, the Serbian has won every major trophy on offer with the Blues and been an absolute rock in the process. At 32, though, he has been crumbling over the past 12 months.
The transfer deadline day arrivals of David Luiz and Marcos Alonso, in addition to the imminent return of Kurt Zouma, does not help Ivanovic in his quest of a new contract and could be forced to weigh up other options when the window re-opens.
Alonso coming in at left-back allows Cesar Azpilicueta to move over to his favoured right-back position and possibly nudge in ahead of Ivanovic as the immediate first-choice option.
Even if Antonio Conte was to switch to a back three, it would be difficult for Ivanovic at this stage to disrupt the trio of John Terry, Gary Cahill and the aforementioned David Luiz.
Lucas LeivaLiverpool’s longest servant is hanging on in there at Anfield and probably has a troublesome Mamadou Sakho and a Jordan Henderson injury to thank for extending his stay for another year at least.
The Brazilian was all set for a move to Galatasaray until a last-second change of heart from Reds boss Jurgen Klopp and, just like last season, he will be needed to fill-in at both defensive midfield and at centre-back. You cannot rule out left-back, either!
Whether Klopp will need him beyond this season, though, is a highly unlikely scenario, and so the likes of Galatasaray may come calling once again in January ahead of making a free transfer next summer.