Contract rebels on the radar
With less than a week to go until the end of the January transfer window, clubs are feverishly scanning the market for available quality players. And one of the best ways to pick up a bargain is to find those stars whose contracts run out in the summer - as Harry Redknapp found from the capture of Everton's Steven Pienaar for £2.5 million, this can often be a good way of getting quality on the cheap.
Before his move to Spurs, Pienaar was not alone in failing to agree a new contract at his club and there are a host of names who will be available on a free transfer on July 1 if they do not choose to move on beforehand.
Possibly the most surprising of these names is Chelsea's Jose Bosingwa. Injured for a large part of last season, the Premier League has not seen the best of him since his return, but the Portuguese right-back remains one of the best in the country. Reports have suggested that Chelsea will wait until the summer to extend his current deal by a further year, but it is a dangerous game with Bayern Munich and AC Milan monitoring the situation closely.
Bolton's Johan Elmander is another who is attracting the attention of some of Europe's top clubs. The Swedish striker has been in the form of his career at the Reebok this season and has bagged nine goals in his 23 games thus far, but talks over his new deal have stalled and interest is hotting up from Fiorentina and Liverpool.
West Ham's Matthew Upson will be waiting on the club's top-flight status before deciding whether to move on, with his former club Arsenal reported to be keeping an eye on him with a view to picking up a cheap deal before January 1. Hammers co-owner David Gold is on record saying that: ''He is now into the last year of his contract and doing it now or at the end of the season doesn't really matter to either side.'' However, they may be left with no choice but to lose him on a free, even if they do stay up.
Finally, Fulham midfielder Zoltan Gera could be a great buy for someone as he looks certain to leave the club. Quoted as saying he doesn't ''feel good'' and plays ''rarely'' under new boss Mark Hughes, the Hungarian added: ''I like the club and the city very much but I don't think it is impossible that I will leave and I'll continue my career at another club. If I have the chance I'll leave but at the moment I don't have these possibilities." If a good deal comes in, Fulham may sell in January.
Of course there could also be some other top names available from some of the biggest clubs in England. Manchester United will offer a new deal to Ryan Giggs and will probably do the same for fellow veteran Paul Scholes. However the future looks less bright for Michael Owen and Owen Hargreaves. Owen has failed to make his mark at Old Trafford and could be let go, while Hargreaves may only be offered a pay-as-you-play deal given his injury woes. United stalwart Gary Neville is another whose contract is up, with many suggesting that he will retire and join the coaching staff at the club.
At Manchester City, the fact that players come and go with regularity means that Patrick Vieira is the only player of note to be under assessment. Without managing to knock Nigel de Jong or Gareth Barry out of the side, the Frenchman is tipped to join a MLS side as he believes he still has something to offer as a player, rather than a coach.
Liverpool are facing a tough choice over Greek defender Sotirios Kyrgiakos who, some may argue, is hindering the development of young players like Daniel Sanchez Ayala and Danny Wilson and will bring little to the future of the club. However, he may yet prove useful in bringing another Greek to Anfield, Schalke teenager Kyriakos Papadopoulos.
Others to feel the strain of a squad place include Arsenal goalkeeper Manuel Almunia, who has been given a ''slight chance'' of leaving this week by manager Arsene Wenger and should return to Spain in the near future. Fellow back-up goalkeepers Henrique Hilario, and Carlo Cudicini could also seek moves away from Chelsea and Totttenham respectively. Spurs may opt to keep the Italian on another year-long deal after he recovered fully from a motorcycle accident, but also have to decide whether to keep William Gallas and Jonathan Woodgate. Gallas has certainly done enough to earn a new deal, but reports suggest that Woodgate will only be offered a pay-as-you-play contract, if that.
English clubs will also be on the lookout across Europe for some bargains, as there are a number of top players who are out of contract this summer.
In Spain, Real Madrid's reserve goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek seems happy to play second fiddle to Iker Casillas so is likely to pen another year's extension to his deal, but Mali midfielder Mahamadou Diarra is certain to move on in the summer. His agent has spurned interest from Liverpool already, claiming his client will stay at the Bernabeu, but having only started three games this season he will likely look to pastures new.
Barcelona's academy gem Thiago Alcantara has signed a new deal with the club to commit his future, and Villarreal have also moved to keep defensive midfielder Marcos Senna, who was so impressive at Euro 2008, but negotiations are still ongoing.
The Italian Serie A sees AS Roma's Philippe Mexes currently in negotiations over his future. The French centre-back is attracting the interest of Arsenal, Chelsea and AC Milan, but has claimed that he is happy to stay in Rome. However, he has been in talks over a new deal since July and not much progress has been made.
AC Milan are set for a clear-out in the summer, having picked up Mark van Bommel from Bayern, but with the ageing Alessandro Nesta, Flavio Roma, Filippo Inzaghi, Massimo Ambrosini, Marek Jankulovski and Clarence Seedorf all tipped for exits, possibly only Andrea Pirlo warrants real attention from the likes of Chelsea. Inter are offering Honduran striker David Suazo to various clubs in Spain for around 2 million euros in a bid to recoup some cash, while Juventus may opt to cash in on 34-year-old defender Nicola Legrottaglie, with Rangers and Arsenal interested, but are keen to keep veteran striker Alessandro Del Piero.
From the rest of Europe, Tottenham are chasing Marseille's left-back Taye Taiwo and could pick him up for around £4 million. Bayern Munich could also lose one of Hamit Altintop, Miroslav Klose to add to their woes after Van Bommel's exit.
Wolfsburg will sell defender Andrea Barzagli to Juventus, but may have to admit defeat in their pursuit of Schalke winger Ivan Rakitic. The 'new Luka Modric' is still in talks over his future, as his contract also expires at the end of the season, but is attracting the attention of AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Manchester United and could chose a new challenge abroad.