Fellaini, Wilshere, Sanchez lead list of PL stars with expiring contracts
Several of the leading names in the Premier League will enter the final six months of their contracts on Jan. 1, raising the prospect of cut-price moves during the transfer window or a pre-contract agreement with a foreign club.
So what does the future hold for some of the biggest stars in the Premier League?
Marouane Fellaini, MF, Man United
The Manchester United midfielder was handed a one-year contract extension last season but talks over a new deal have failed to progress. Jose Mourinho wants the club to reward Fellaini with a deal that reflects his progress in recent months but with Fenerbahce and Besiktas both ready to move for the 30-year-old, United risk losing him for nothing.
Alexis Sanchez, FW, Arsenal
Arsenal were ready to sell the Chile international to Manchester City in August, but the deal fell through due to the club's failure to sign Thomas Lemar as a replacement in time. City are prepared to make new offer in January but Paris Saint-Germain are also keen and could prove a more palatable destination for Arsenal. Arsene Wenger remains determined to keep Sanchez until the end of the season.
Ross Barkley, MF, Everton
Tottenham lead the chase for the Everton midfielder, who rejected a move to Chelsea in August. The 24-year-old England international has not played this season due to a long-term hamstring injury but is now close to fitness. Sam Allardyce has admitted he wants Barkley to stay but the new Everton manager also accepts that the club are powerless if the player chooses to reject a new deal.
Mesut Ozil, MF, Arsenal
Mourinho wants to take the Arsenal playmaker to Old Trafford after being impressed by the German during their time together at Real Madrid. A January deal is unlikely, with Arsene Wenger reluctant to sell to a domestic rival next month. Barcelona have an interest in Ozil, however, and a sale to the Nou Camp could be a possibility in January.
Emre Can, MF, Liverpool
The Germany midfielder has rejected offers of a new contract at Liverpool and manager Jurgen Klopp is now fighting a losing battle to keep the versatile former Bayer Leverkusen player. Juventus have a long-standing interest in the 23-year-old and could make a move in January in a bid to boost their hopes of catching Serie A leaders Napoli in the new year.
Fernandinho, MF, Man City
The Manchester City midfielder has become a key cog in Pep Guardiola's winning machine at the Etihad Stadium, but the 32-year-old has yet to secure his future at the club beyond the end of this season. City are expected to offer the former Shakhtar Donetsk man a one-year deal but with his 33rd birthday approaching in May, Fernandinho could choose to pursue a longer contract elsewhere.
Ashley Young, DF/MF, Man United
Manchester United want to keep the rejuvenated 32-year-old but the player is keen for a longer deal than the 12-month extension currently on the table. United have a one-year option on Young, which they can trigger at any time (Juan Mata, Ander Herrera, Luke Shaw and Daley Blind are in the same situation), so he is likely to stay until the summer at least when his future will be fully reassessed.
Jack Wilshere, MF, Arsenal
With his 26th birthday approaching on Jan. 1, Wilshere is facing a career crossroads at Arsenal. Arsene Wenger has claimed that contract talks will take place in the new year and Wilshere's return to the first-team will help his case but the midfielder has to prove he has overcome his injury problems and may yet choose to exercise his free agent status at the end of the season.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic, FW, Man United
The Manchester United forward had toyed with the prospect of a move to Major League Soccer last summer, prior to suffering the serious knee injury from which he has only recently returned to fitness at Old Trafford. At 36, the retired Sweden international is unlikely to be offered a new contract by United but interest from the United States and China ensure that Ibrahimovic will have several options both in January and at the end of the season.
Yaya Toure, MF, Man City
The Manchester City midfielder has played a bit-part role this season after signing a one-year deal last summer and could be on the move in January. A move as a free agent at the end of the campaign is most likely but the 34-year-old is not expected to link up with City's MLS sister club, New York City. A move to China or the Middle East are the most realistic options for the former Barcelona star.
Mark Ogden is a senior football writer for ESPN FC. Follow him @MarkOgden_