It's a Knockaert

The ramblings of a football obsessive and Game of Thrones nerd.

Top 10 Players out of contract this summer

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10. Mame Biram Diouf – Hannover

The former Manchester United youngster, who failed to make the grade at Old Trafford, has been very impressive for Hannover in the Bundesliga, scoring 32 goals in 63 games. He has refused to rule out signing a new contract, but as January arrives Hannover may be tempted to sell him rather than lose him for free. Stoke City have been linked with a January move.

9. Fernando – Porto

The Brazilian defensive midfielder almost moved to Everton in the summer for £15 million, but Porto grew fed up of waiting for Fellaini’s move to go through so that Everton could fund the transfer so he ended up staying. He has been one of Porto’s most important players over the last few years, and has been targeted by Napoli and Manchester United, so it seems likely he will move on to a big European club next summer.

8. Jeremy Menez – PSG

The hot-tempered right winger has fallen out with manager Laurent Blanc, and seems likely to move on for free next summer. He has been linked with several of Europe’s finest clubs, including Juventus, Chelsea and Liverpool. PSG are unlikely to put up a fight as he is out of favour and down the pecking order.

7. Diego – Wolfsburg

One of my personal favourite players, Diego was one of Brazil’s best players several years ago, but after his move to Juventus didn’t work out he has fallen off the radar somewhat, despite some much improved performances in the last two years. His next destination is anyone’s guess – he has been linked with a move to Qatar, back to Brazil with Botafogo and Santos, to Atletico Madrid where he has a successful loan spell, and Arsenal and Southampton in the Premier League. Whoever signs him will be very lucky, as he is a sensational player on his day, albeit a hot-tempered one. He had an impressive partnership with Mesut Ozil in their Werder Bremen days, which might be a clue to his next destination. Here are some of his best goals: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5L8tW_4MAyA#t=98

6. Blaise Matuidi – PSG

The all-action midfielder was one of PSG’s best players last season, and is stalling on signing a new deal. Manchester City and Chelsea are reportedly preparing pre-contract deals to offer to him in January, and he has also been linked with Manchester United and Barcelona. He could be available in January for as little as £7 million. He would be a perfect signing for United, as he fits the bill for the kind of midfielder they need.

5. Igor Akinfeev – CSKA Moscow

The Russian number one has spent his whole career so far at CSKA Moscow, racking up over 300 appearances after breaking into the first team 10 years ago, and is now their captain. Still only 27, he has mainly been linked with AC Milan as a replacement for Christian Abbiati.

4. Victor Valdes – Barcelona

Now another long-serving goalkeeper, and one that Akinfeev might replace at Barcelona. Victor Valdes has always divided opinion, but by the time he leaves Barcelona he will have made over 600 appearances for the club, which suggests a player of world class ability. He was at one point thought to be moving to Monaco in the summer, but he stayed to honour the last year of his contract. He may yet move to the rich French club, or to their rivals PSG, or to Arsenal.

3. Xabi Alonso – Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s £30 million signing looks to be on his way out for nothing. The iconic Spaniard is still one of the world’s finest midfielders, and at 32 still has several years at the top left. He has said he would like to finish his career at Madrid, but only is he is offered the terms he believes he deserves. A return to Liverpool, where he spent five highly successul years between 2004 and 2009, has been touted, as has a move to Chelsea where he would be reunited with Mourinho, or to Juventus, where he would replace the next man on this list..

2. Andrea Pirlo – Juventus

The man with the best beard in football, and one of the finest deep-lying playmakers of all time, has yet to sign a new deal with Juventus, where his career has been rejuvenated in the last three years. Despite still being an important player for them, he is no longer irreplaceable with the emergence of Paul Pogba. He has been linked with Tottenham, or to the MLS to see out his illustrious career in America.

1. Robert Lewandowski – Borussia Dortmund

Probably this is the player you had in mind when you started reading this list. One of the world’s best strikers, who scored an incredible poker against Real Madrid in last year’s Champions League semi finals, seems destined to join Dortmund’s nemesis Bayern Munich. He currently has a record of 91 goals in 163 games for Dortmund, and is a fantastic all-round striker – good in the air and on the ground, and always composed in front of goal. Despite his move to Bayern being all but official, there have been some rumours that they would look to sell him as soon as they sign him, as Guardiola doesn’t see him as fitting into his system – they have been playing with Mario Gotze as a false nine sometimes this season, emulating the role Messi played at Barcelona under Pep. If that does turn out to be true, Bayern will probably look for £30-40 million for one of the world’s top players (who shares my birthday by the way).

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