The Premier League is almost ready to go into it summer hibernation once again with less than two months to go. Nothing is too certain as of yet, the top six changes from game to game and with the relegation battle sucking more and more teams into it, no one can tell which teams will battle the likes of Barcelona and Bayern Munich for European glory and who will settle for a cold wet away day at The Pirelli Stadium, home to Burton Albion.
With all that in mind, some players are left uncertain of what colours they’ll be wearing next season and what badge they’ll be playing for, if at all, with their contracts running out.
Offside Football has gathered the best of them in this look at: The Best XI, the bell tolls for thee.
Willy Caballero – Manchester City
Caballero was brought to the Etihad to give Joe Hart a bit of competition under Manuel Pellegrini. Once Pep Guardiola took over, brought Claudio Bravo from Barcelona, and got rid of the aforementioned Hart, it was an uphill battle for Caballero. The Argentinian did play quite a few games this season, mounting up to 19 appearances in all competitions; but with that said, the 35 year-old will most likely find himself on the free transfer list as a part of the massive fire sale Guardiola is planning.
Glen Johnson – Stoke City
After his move from Liverpool on a free transfer, Johnson found his new home in the Potteries. The 32-year-old had 40 appearances in two seasons and looked in fine form in the red and white. Suffering from a variety of injuries, Johnson was out for most of the 2015-16 season with a knee injury that sidelined him for over a hundred days. Stoke has quite a few other defenders to pick from, which means Johnson and for that matter, Phil Bardsley, will have to find new clubs, probably in the lower end of the table, or the top of the Championship.
John Terry – Chelsea
Terry’s contract was a highly debated subject last season which ended in a one-year contract extension. Now, that year is coming to an end. Having made only 4 appearances and being 36 years old, Terry finds himself behind a variety of solid defenders. Through most of the season, the armband has been placed in the safe keeping of Terry’s former partner in the back four, Gary Cahill. Chelsea are on course to win the league which means Antonio Conte will most likely look to strengthen his squad for a long season that will surely see him try to win European glory.
Damien Delaney – Crystal Palace
Crystal Palace’s Premier League status has yet to be secured, Delaney looks to be quite low on the pecking order behind the likes of James Tomkins, Scott Dann and on-loan Mamadou Sakho. The 35-year-old no-nonsense defender puts everything on the line when he’s on the pitch but his age, coupled with the lack of starts, means he, himself, might not want to stay at Selhurst Park, especially if the Eagles find themselves in the Championship next season.
Pablo Zabaleta – Manchester City
Even with City’s problematic (at best) defending players, the ageing Argentinian was limited to only 10 league starts this season. As with the above-mentioned Manchester City players, Zabaleta is another player who is a part of the old system used by both Mancini and Pellegrini and will, in all probability, be asked to find himself a new club. Reports are already linking the 32-year-old with a summer move to West Ham and claim he’s already signed a contract with them. Now, he’ll just have to hope they stay in the Premier League.
George Boyd – Burnley
Boyd was brought into Turf Moor in 2014-2015 season for a then club record of around £3m. Three seasons later and even though the Scottish midfielder has a lot of appearences in the league (28), this is probably down to Sean Dyche’s lack of resources and his charming “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it” attitude. With that said, Boyd is known to give his all on the pitch; the hard working, never-say-die midfielder has the exact mentality Dyche is after and Burnley is known for. Reports claim the Clarets are already in negotiating a contract extension for the 31-year-old.
Lucas Leiva – Liverpool
A man who’s almost an icon of Liverpool and what they stand for, Leiva has been linked with a move away for a few months, with Stoke and Inter Milan reportedly keen on the Brazilian. Only 30, a midfielder who can play a variety of defensive roles, Lucas made a small amount of appearances due to the incoming Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can’s good performances, or even Jurgen Klopp’s tactics. Whatever it may be, this could be the last season for a player who will remain in the memory of Liverpudians everywhere.
Darren Fletcher – West Bromwich Albion
The only player who has been offered a new contract but has not accepted yet. After a decade and a half of being a Manchester United player, the Scottish international moved to the midlands a couple of seasons ago and never looked back. He has made 32 appearances so far this season, scoring and assisting two each. He was also given the captaincy. All of the above makes the fact WBA waited so long to give him a contract extension, strange. Fletcher has yet to accept the extension, does he think his future lay somewhere else?
Yaya Toure – Manchester City
Arguably the best player in this list, Toure had a miserable first half of the season before a mixture of injury and trial & error made Pep Guardiola take a chance on the Ivorian 33-year-old. The midfielder can at times be an absolute linchpin for the team but had the dubious honour of pulling an incredibly sad debacle over his birthday. Last year Toure’s agent had apparently “declared war” on Pep Guardiola before the midfielder himself had to apologize. The Ivorian can be, to say the least, still useful for City but it’s up to the man in charge if his attitude and age has outlived his usefulness.
Victor Anichebe – Sunderland
Moving from West Bromwich Albion to Sunderland earlier this season, it seems Anichbe can only get himself a one season deal, as his contract is about to expire after the same thing happened to him in the midlands with West Brom. Anichebe was a big part of Sunderland’s goal scoring efforts earlier this season, with some supporters claiming he might be the man to keep them up. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be for the 28-year-old, as he was sidelined for just over two months with a knee injury which made him unavailable for selection in 9 matches for the Black Cats. With Sunderland just about guaranteed to be in the Championship next season, will the striker stay or take his chances elsewhere?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic – Manchester United
Just about everything has been written about the big Swedish striker so let’s get straight to the point. “Ibra” has 17 goals in the Premier League and has more shots than anyone else in the league (115), not surprisingly with that amount of shots that he also leads the table in chances missed, with 18. Nevertheless, the 35-year-old only signed a one year deal with the Red Devils and is reported to both be in talks to extend his stay and to attract suitors in Italy and the U.S. United have almost secured their place in Europe for next season (even though it’s “just” the Europa League), which means squad depth is crucial. Zlatan is a proven goal scorer; if Jose can afford to release him, it means he either has confidence in his current players or he has his eyes set on a better one. Only time will tell.