Sergio Ramos, Jerome Boateng and 10 high-profile footballers who have become free agents

Lionel Messi is not the only player to see his contract expire at the end of June

epa09078794 Real Madrid's defender Sergio Ramos celebrates after scoring the 2-0 goal during the UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Atalanta held at Alfredo Di Stefano stadium, in Madrid, central Spain, 16 March 2021.  EPA/JuanJo Martin

Lionel Messi has, somewhat remarkably, become a free agent after his Barcelona contract expired on June 30. The Argentine’s representatives, led by his father Jorge, remain in talks over fresh terms with Barcelona, although the club’s well-documented financial troubles have complicated negotiations.

While at present Messi is expected to stay at Barcelona, his free agent status has left the club in a vulnerable position, with the likes of Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain reported to hold an interest in the six-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Messi, however, is far from the only high-profile footballer to become a free agent this summer. Here are 10 other players whose contracts have just expired and a look at where they could end up next.

Gianluigi Donnarumma

Italy’s No 1 will not be a free agent for long after negotiations broke down over a new contract at boyhood club AC Milan. Donnarumma, who is starring for Italy at Euro 2020, is one of the finest goalkeepers in world football and at 22 years old will represent an absolute bargain for his next club, even with huge wage demands and signing bonuses.

Interested clubs: Donnarumma is widely expected to join PSG with an announcement expected imminently.

Elseid Hysaj

The Albanian full-back’s six-year spell at Napoli came to an end when his contract expired, and he is expected to remain in Italy. Hysaj, 27, came through the ranks at Empoli and is reported to be closing in on a move to the Italian capital.

Interested clubs: Reports in Italy claim Hysaj will join Lazio, where he will become one of the first signings of new manager Maurizio Sarri.

Sergio Ramos

Perhaps the most high-profile free agent behind Messi, the Spanish defender departed Real Madrid after 16 trophy-laden years as the two parties failed to agree new terms. Ramos may be 35 and struggled recently with injury, but his experience and proven pedigree should mean a new challenge at the top level awaits.

Interested clubs: Nothing concrete just yet but PSG, Manchester United, Chelsea, and Manchester City have been among the clubs mentioned. One to keep an eye on over the next few weeks.

Santos Borre

The Colombian forward is available on a free transfer after his contract at River Plate – for whom he has excelled since 2017 – expired last month. Borre joined Atletico Madrid in 2015 but failed to break into the first team, with a loan spell at Villarreal proving unsuccessful. However, since then the 25-year-old has demonstrated his ability in South America and a move back to European football could be on the cards.

Interested clubs: Reports claim Borre could yet agree a new contract at River, while others claim he has agreed a four-year deal with Eintracht Frankfurt. Scottish rivals Rangers and Celtic were also thought to be interested.

Nikola Maksimovic

After five years at Napoli, the Serbian centre-back is on the lookout for a new club and looks set to be heading for the Premier League.

Interested clubs: Crystal Palace and West Ham are both reported to have made offers for 29-year-old Maksimovic, while Lazio are also rumoured to be interested.

Jerome Boateng

The German defender has left Bayern Munich after 10 years and countless trophies, and at 32 years old should attract at least a short-term deal from another top club.

Interested clubs: The transfer rumour mill has been quiet regarding Boateng, although Monaco have been linked.

Ryan Bertrand

Bertrand established himself as one of the most reliable left-backs in the Premier League during his six years at Southampton. Now available on a free, the 31-year-old looks set for a new move within the English top-flight.

Interested clubs: Arsenal had been previously linked but now it looks more likely that Bertrand will make a move to Leicester City.

Alex Teixeira

One of the Brazilian stars of the Shakhtar Donetsk side which also included the likes of Willian, Fernandinho, and Douglas Costa, Teixeira has spent the past five seasons as one of the leading players in China. His next move could be back to Europe or a return to Brazil.

Interested clubs: Besiktas are reported to be closing in on the 31-year-old forward’s signature, while there is also thought to be interest from boyhood club Vasco da Gama.

Patrick van Aanholt

Deemed surplus to requirements at Crystal Palace but a regular starter for the Netherlands at Euro 2020, there should be no shortage of offers for the 30-year-old left-back.

Interested clubs: Leeds United, Galatasaray, and Inter Milan have all been linked with an approach for Van Aanholt.

Diego Costa

Released by Atletico Madrid after becoming a bit-part player last season, the volatile striker may still attract interest from clubs who hope to draw out one final season from the 32-year-old Spain international.

Interested clubs: Besiktas and Wolves are the clubs mentioned in the media.

Updated: July 1st 2021, 10:24 AM