The 20 best footballers available on free transfers in 2023 including Messi and Rashford

Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi are out of contract in 2023 Credit: Alamy
Karim Benzema and Lionel Messi are out of contract in 2023 Credit: Alamy

There are some brilliant footballers available on free transfers who are out of contract in the summer of 2023, though clubs have options on some of these players. We have ranked by ‘value’ according to Transfermarkt but that’s just a guide.

 

1) Milan Skriniar (Inter Milan)
Every club in Europe will be desperate to sign Skriniar as experienced, combative centre-halves in their prime being available for bugger all is very, very rare. Real Madrid are interested in the Slovakian but so are Manchester United, PSG and any other club with ambitions and a realistic budget.

 

2) Marcus Rashford (Manchester United)
The club have a one-year option that they will surely trigger to protect his value but Erik ten Hag has made it clear that he is in no rush at all to negotiate a new deal with either Rashford or David De Gea as he is keen to end the era of contracts being handed out willy and indeed nilly.

 

3) Lionel Messi (PSG)
“The rumours about Lionel Messi continue, but as I have mentioned many times, he will not decide his future until 2023. He plans to speak with his family, his lawyers, and everyone around him. He is not currently negotiating with Barcelona, nor with PSG for a new contract,” says Fabrizio Romano.

 

4) Youri Tielemans (Leicester City)
We are still confused that nobody signed him for relative pennies in the summer of 2022 and yet he remains at Leicester playing second fiddle to The James Maddison Show. Arsenal, Tottenham and Barcelona are all being linked with a January move for even fewer relative pennies.

 

5) Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The queue will be long for the Ballon d’Or winner.

 

6) Jorginho (Chelsea)
The Italian has been linked with a return to Italy pretty much since the minute he landed in west London. The theory goes that Chelsea will only give a new contract to Jorginho or the slightly broken man a few places down this list.

 

7) Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
“Wilfried knows what the club thinks about him and we know what he thinks about the club,” says Patrick Vieira. A big decision lies ahead: Does he stay at the club that loves him or have one crack at Champions League football while he still can? He fancies Liverpool, apparently.

 

8) Diogo Dalot (Manchester United)
Another Manchester United player out of contract in 2023 but with a one-year extension that can be triggered by the club. Is he in Erik ten Hag’s long-term plans?

 

9) Evan Ndicka (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Arsenal have been linked with the Frenchman with a view to partnering him with William Saliba in the centre of their defence. Helping to keep a clean sheet v Spurs will help his cause.

 

10) Leandro Trossard (Brighton)
The Belgian has an option to extend his contract for another year, assuming he thinks kindly enough of the Seagulls to do that and protect his value ahead of a move to Chelsea to re-join Graham Potter.

 

11) Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid)
The winger who almost joined Liverpool and Arsenal will soon leave Atletico Madrid, despite summer talk of the Frenchman agreeing a quite substantial drop in wages to stay in the capital.

 

12) N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
Injury problems have dogged him over the last three seasons and will now keep him out of the World Cup. He is still best in the business when fit, but is he fit often enough to merit a new deal at Chelsea or elsewhere?

 

13) Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
We advocated for his sale in the summer of 2022, having failed to realise – as pretty much everyone barring Jurgen Klopp did – that they would still need and value the Brazilian even after the arrivals of Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez. Juventus will lead the queue next summer if the Reds do not blink first and offer him a new deal.

 

14) Luke Shaw (Manchester United)
Another Manchester United player out of contract in 2023 but with a one-year extension that can be triggered by the club. Is he in Erik ten Hag’s long-term plans? Or could he boost the ranks at Newcastle?

 

15) Ruslan Malinovskyi (Atalanta)
The Ukrainian attacking midfielder has been consistently linked with Tottenham among other clubs, but his wife’s reluctance to leave Italy could see him renew with Atalanta instead.

 

16) Konrad Laimer (RB Leipzig)
Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich have all been linked with the Austrian central midfielder who is considered something of a pressing machine.

 

17) Ilkay Gundogan (Manchester City)
Juventus love a free transfer from the Premier League and they seem to be heading the queue for the German. In theory, Kalvin Phillips will replace him, but that is nothing but a theory right now.

 

18) Viktor Tsygankov (Dynamo Kyiv)
The Ukrainian winger can play on the left or right and as such has become a target for West Ham, Newcastle United and Wolves. Oh and Borussia Dortmund, which somehow feels more likely.

 

19) Marco Ascensio (Real Madrid)
Newcastle United and AC Milan were the latest two clubs to be linked with the Real Madrid winger who seems to be way down Carlo Ancelotti’s list of favourites.

 

20) Caglar Soyuncu (Leicester City)
He can’t even get near this Leicester side. “There’s a lot that goes on behind the scenes that people would be unaware of. Cags is a good man and it’s been hard for him,” said Brendan Rodgers. Nobody would be surprised if he slinked back to Turkey.

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