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Which players are available for free in June 2023? Messi, Benzema, Modric, Di María...

On June 30, 50 top-level players will finish their contracts and will be able to move for free.

On June 30, 50 top-level players will finish their contracts and will be able to move for free.
Shaun Botterill - FIFAFIFA via Getty Images

In barely three months’ time, more than 50 top-level players will see their playing contracts with their clubs expire and they will be released: any club will be free to sign them without having to pay a transfer fee. On the list are illustrious footballers such as two world champions (Messi and Di María) the most recent Ballon d’Or winner (Benzema), the player chosen as the third best performer the World Cup in Qatar (Modric), and one of the greatest young talents in Europe (Moukoko). Not a bad squad for a game of 5-a-side.

Messi is perhaps the most striking case of them all. The Argentine, recent winner of the World Cup in Qatar and 7-time Ballon d’Or winner, will see his contract expire soon and there has been little indication that he will renew at PSG. Nasser Al Khelaiffi, the PSG president, publicly showed his desire for the player to renew after the World Cup, and was willing to satisfy the demanding economic requirements of the Argentine star. Hardly any other club would pay the €41 million a year that Messi, at 35 years old, earns at PSG. However, the reality is that he has not signed and can negotiate with any other club; maybe the Argentine is tired of his French adventure...

El delantero francés del Real Madrid, Karim Benzema , se lamenta de una ocasión fallada.
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Karim Benzema has less than 6 months on his current Real Madrid contract and is yet to sign a new deal.Angel MartinezGetty Images

The curious case of Karim Benzema’s contract

Benzema is a particular and peculiar example. His contract contained a clause whereby he would renew for one more season if he won the Ballon d’Or - as was the case - but the renewal is not automatic and that issue will be dealt with at the end of the season.

The renewals of Modric and Asensio, as well as that of Kroos, are up in the air: Real Madrid will start talks in April. Asensio has significant offers from England and Italy and nothing has been decided. Regarding Kroos, the German has said that he does not know if he will renew or retire from football, but that if he continued playing he would only do it for Real Madrid, he would not sign for another club.

Milan Skriniar (Inter)60 million28
Lionel Messi (PSG)50 million35
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)35 million35
Evan Ndicka (Eintracht)32 million23
Marcus Thuram (Borussia Mönchengladbach)32 million25
Daichi Kamada (Eintracht)30 million26
Youri Tielemans (Leicester)30 million25
Adrien Rabiot (Juventus)30 million27
Konrad Laimer (Leipzig)28 million25
Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)27 million30
Marco Asensio (Real Madrid)25 million27
Alejandro Grimaldo (Benfica)25 million27
Ilkay Gündogan (Manchester City)25 million32
Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)22 million31
Houssem Aouar (Lyon)20 million24
Jonathan Bamba (Lille)20 million26
N’Golo Kanté (Chelsea)20 million31
Íñigo Martínez (Athletic Club)18 million31
Toni Kroos (Real Madrid)18 million33
Luka Modric (Real Madrid)10 million37
Ángel Di María (PSG)10 million35

The long list of free agents in 2023

French midfielder N’Golo Kanté, who missed the World Cup, is set to become a free agent after letting his contract at Chelsea run down. Barça have already enquired about the player and see him as a replacement for Busquets. As for De Gea, he will be allowed to leave for free on June 30 as things stand. Manchester United have the option to renew him for one more season, but have not yet exercised it.

Among the other players who are free agents on June 30, there is one name which has all of Europe’s top clubs wiggling their eyebrows like Wile E. Coyote before trying to catch the Road Runner: Youssoufa Moukoko. The German national team striker is only 18 years old and could be carried out of the doors at Borussia Dortmund given the amount offers he has received, including one from Barcelona.

Over recent years it has become something of a trend for players wait until their contracts are up to negotiate their next signing. Clubs receive less money, but agents are weaving very high fees and wages into their new contracts. FIFA has recently published the report ‘Intermediaries in International Transfers’, in which it indicates that, in 2022, clubs paid €622 million for intermediary services, which represents an increase of 24% compared to 2021. It’s not a trend, it’s a business.