Fifa announced this week that players whose contracts were due to expire in June can be offered short-term extensions to let them complete the current season with their clubs. The clarification means that players who thought they had played their last game for their clubs may now stay on until the 2019-20 season finishes.
Clubs are likely to take up the option in most cases given their inability to sign replacements – the rescheduling of the transfer window is another matter to be decided – but should they be offering longer-term deals to these players? Here are 10 players whose futures remain up in the air and our suggestions for what their clubs should do.
Bournemouth could be short of two wingers before long. They will surely extend Ryan Fraser’s deal, if only for the short term. He has failed to live up to the standards he set last season – when he scored seven goals and up another 14 – but Eddie Howe will not want to let him go. Fraser’s stock has dipped but he would attract suitors. He is still a livewire who has proven he can do it in the top flight. And he is only 26.
Ibe, who is just 24, should have even more time to develop but the rate at which he has done so – if at all – since his club record £15m move from Liverpool to the south coast will not have Bournemouth clambering to agree terms, let alone other top flight clubs. He has not started a single league game this season. Ibe has promise. He played for England’s under 18s, 19s, 20s and 21s, and is a strong dribbler, but perhaps he needs to drop down a league to rebuild his reputation.
Another team with two first team players of the same position with contracts expiring, Burnley will surely keep one of the two on their books at least, with Ashley Westwood likely to be the priority.
Westwood is an understated player but he is very much appreciated at Burnley, having won both the players’ and supporters’ player of the year awards last season. The 30-year-old midfielder has been a near ever present yet again this season, with his ability at set pieces a big asset to a side that are often dominant in the air, giving him five assists so far this season.
Sean Dyche has a bigger decision to make over Jeff Hendrick. The Republic of Ireland international has played much of each of his four seasons at Turf Moor without ever really being a guaranteed starter. Still the must likely of Burnley’s workman-like midfield to chip in with a goal, he’s never managed more than three in a Premier League campaign having offered a relatively frequent threat in the second tier at Derby.
Chelsea are perhaps the club with the biggest decisions to make regarding expiring contracts. Chelsea have three high-profile thirty-somethings who have been free to negotiate with other clubs since the turn of the year.
The Blues would be wise to keep Willian on the books given his continued, albeit waning, influence in the final third; he has scored five goals and set up five more in the league this season. They may not offer a contract that is long enough to persuade him to stay. Longstanding interest from Barcelona appears to have cooled, but there will be plenty of clubs offering European football to the 31-year-old.
The same could be said of Olivier Giroud, though the Frenchman, now 33, must decide what role he is happy to take up in the twilight of his career. Frozen out for much of this season, having returned to the first team due to injury to Tammy Abraham earlier in the year, Giroud proved his lasting value. He has never been blessed with pace, but instead has an ability to link up with others from the front unlike many around. The former Arsenal man has not really had to adjust his game and would continue to be a real asset to Chelsea as a back-up striker if they convince him to stay.
As far as Pedro is concerned, the Spaniard’s five-season spell in the capital is likely to come to an end. He has started just eight league games this season as Frank Lampard has looked to give youth a chance and has had a direct hand in just two goals in that time.
Mendy was a club record signing when he arrived at Leicester in 2016, but he has not lived up to his £13m price tag. The 27-year-old became quite prominent towards the end of Claude Puel’s reign, starting 23 of 31 league appearances last season, but he has been overlooked since Brendan Rodgers took over.
A tidy passer, who boasts a pass accuracy of 89% since the start of last season, Mendy is a no-frills player. Although, while that’s not his role per se, the Frenchman has not scored or even set up a single goal at Leicester. He’s not a ball-winning midfielder either, and more valuable players have pushed him down the pecking order. He should not be offered a new deal.
In contrast to Mendy, Lundstram is sure to be offered a deal beyond his current contract. The 26-year-old has become something of a cult figure in terms of fantasy football this season for people looking for a bargain, having had a hand in seven goals this season.
He has started more matches for the Blades this season than in the club’s two previous season in the Championship. He has adapted to top-flight football perhaps even better than Chris Wilder would have expected.
Having reportedly fallen out with both Mauricio Pochettino and José Mourinho at different stages of this season, Vertonghen is likely to move on. A return to Ajax has been mooted for the Belgian who, at 32, is unlikely to receive even a medium-term deal at Tottenham.
He has started just 18 of the club’s 29 league matches this season, earning his lowest rating (6.85) since arriving in England back in 2012. His career in England has been a success – and Spurs fans should hold the defender in high regard – but the time seems right for “Super Jan” to fly away.