While there is still the chance these players may be offered a new deal before the season starts, here are some of the players who are available on a free transfer across Europe this summer.
“I don’t know where, but I am going to carry on,” Totti told friends on the night of his final game for Roma. His entourage would later brief that it was only a joke and, even if he did give the impression of not being ready to retire, it’s difficult to see Totti playing in the colours of another team after 25 years in the red and yellow of Roma. Miami FC, the club coached by former Lazio captain and Totti’s old friend Alessandro Nesta, were rumoured to have made an offer, while Japanese clubs have also shown an interest. But the smart money is on Totti staying at Roma as a director. All that remains to figure out is the role.
Alves’ time in Italy ended bitterly. There were reports of a bust-up in the tunnel at half-time of the Champions League final in which he apparently came to the defence of Paulo Dybala. The veteran full-back then infuriated fans by saying Dybala should leave Juventus and posted a photo of the boots he wore when Barcelona beat the Old Lady in Berlin two years ago. As he left, Alves asked Juventus fans for forgiveness and denied he is leaving for money. It’s never been about that for him. To borrow a phrase from his former teammate Patrice Evra, Alves loves this game, not to mention playing under Pep Guardiola… Even at 34, he lit up the knock-out stages of the Champions League last season and still delivers on the big occasions. Manchester City will be getting a serial winner.
One of European football’s great villains of the last decade, Pepe was arguably the closest personification of Jose Mourinho on a football pitch until, of course, the Special One found Marouane Fellaini. The stamp on Messi’s hand and Clasicos spent as a destroyer in midfield made him a symbol of anti-football and got in the way of the fact that he is very good defender, which the veteran further underlined at the Euros last summer where he was outstanding. To last so long at Real Madrid and persuade manager after manager he deserved to be at the Bernabeu is testament to a great competitor and player. Offered to Inter and PSG, it now looks like he will become the latest Mendes client to end up at Besiktas.
Honda bade farewell to Milan in the best of ways with a beautiful free kick in a 3-0 win against Bologna at San Siro. It served as a reminder of what the 31-year-old, right-sided midfielder can do. Whether he’s prepared to play on into his 50s like Yokohama’s incredible Kazuyoshi Miura remains to be seen, but for now Honda wishes to remain in Europe for at least one more season. It’s his aim to convince Japan coach Vahid Halilhodzic that he deserves a place in his 2018 World Cup squad.
Ghezzal is in his prime, still only 25, the Algeria international is to leave Lyon on a free transfer and isn’t short of offers. Ghezzal is no Riyad Mahrez but his ability as a left footer on the right flank makes him an attractive proposition for teams who like an inverted winger. He starred in the derby win against Saint-Etienne in October and was Man of the Match when Lyon upset champions Monaco at the Stade Louis II before Christmas. Ghezzal will make an interesting pick up for someone.
“I’m still the best there is in Italy,” Cassano told Sky Italia a week ago. Frankly it’s hard to know given how little he plays. Cassano took six months out two seasons ago and hasn’t played at all this year after falling out with Sampdoria. His talent is undeniable, even at 34, and is matched only by his ability to have a blazing row with an owner or manager. But having said all that he’s a loveable rogue and the prospect of him reuniting with Giampaolo Pazzini at Verona is exciting. His offer to go back to Parma, who just won promotion to Serie B, fell on deaf ears, as memories of how he walked out on them at the first sign of financial trouble are not dead yet.
Once the poster boy of the Jurgen Klopp revolution at Borussia Dortmund, Grosskreutz, who used to stand in the Yellow Wall, has suffered quite the fall from grace. Promoted Stuttgart terminated his contract after he was hospitalised following a fight while out with some academy players in March. The two-time Bundesliga winner, who was also a member of Germany’s World Cup winning squad, is taking some time out but could be persuaded to return.
Remember him? The Montenegro international has spent the last couple of years sunning himself in the Arabian Gulf League with Al-Jazira but wants one last crack at Europe. Now 33, Vucinic will perhaps struggle to find a team in one of the Europe’s major leagues. In fact, he seems more inclined to let romance and nostalgia dictate his decision. A return to Lecce where Vucinic first made his name looks on the cards.
One of the most underrated players of his generation, Motta was not only a big part of Inter’s treble winning side but has played a big role in mentoring Marco Verratti at PSG. A metronomic, tempo-setting midfielder, Motta is like a coach on the pitch and while his body can’t do everything it used to, his brain still means he is one or two steps ahead of opponents. He’s a chess player. Motta’s agent has set a deadline of Friday June 30 for PSG to hammer out an extension. If can’t reach an agreement, an orderly queue will form to sign the 34-year-old.
Surplus to requirements at Schalke, the 28-year-old frustrated fans in Gelsenkirchen. Choupo-Moting used to get into some great positions but his decision-making and finishing left the crowd at the Veltins Arena wringing their hands. Memories of his final season at Mainz when he hit double figures will persuade teams into taking a chance on him. His ceiling isn’t perhaps as high as Schalke thought but he could still prove a useful for mid-table team.
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