Best XI of free agents available in summer 2023 including Messi and Benzema

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Lionel Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season (Image: Getty Images)
Lionel Messi is out of contract at Paris Saint-Germain at the end of the season (Image: Getty Images)

While the focus and hype is trained on the transfers expected to be completed over the next three weeks, from Mykhaylo Mudryk to Enzo Fernandez, a plethora of talents are available to discuss deals to be completed in the summer.

Upcoming free agents are permitted to commit to pre-contract agreements once they have entered the final six months of their present deals. That means the representatives of Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema and more could broker new bumper deals.

The available options are front-loaded with attackers and there are comparatively slim pickings when it comes to free-agent defenders. But here is an XI made of players who have entered the final months of their present deals.

Goalkeeper

David De Gea: The Manchester United goalkeeper has recently said that he is hopeful of signing an extension to remain at Old Trafford. But it is worth remembering that when Erik ten Hag first arrived as manager, there were doubts about the Spaniard's ability with his feet.

Defence

Nelson Semedo: The Wolves right-back is coming to the end of his three-year contract and there is reportedly an extension clause that the club could activate. However, their precarious position in the Premier League table leaves a lot of questions and doubts for much of the squad. Go down and exodus is guaranteed.

Hakim Ziyech brutally denied deadline day transfer as PSG furious at Chelsea rridqziqtqitinvHakim Ziyech brutally denied deadline day transfer as PSG furious at Chelsea

Evan Ndicka: The 23-year-old Eintracht Frankfurt centre-half has plenty of admirers, including Arsenal and Barcelona. There is little prospect of him remaining with last season’s Europa League winners.

Milan Skriniar: Inter Milan are desperate for the Slovakia defender to sign a new deal but he has so far refused. Arsenal, Tottenham and, as of this week, Liverpool have been linked with bringing him to the Premier League.

Alejandro Grimaldo: The left-back has refused to sign a new contract at Benfica, who are also battling to keep a hold of star midfielder Enzo Fernandez. Juventus are keen, according to reports in Italy, but he is another who has been touted as an Arsenal signing for several seasons.

Best XI of free agents available in summer 2023 including Messi and BenzemaAlejandro Grimaldo has been linked with Arsenal - alongside more than half of this team (Valter Gouveia/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Midfield

Youri Tielemans: The Belgium central midfielder wants to play in the Champions League. Leicester are battling to stay in the Premier League and manager Brendan Rodgers has said this week that the club has "to be brave enough" to say goodbye to anyone not keen on signing a new deal. That raises the possibility he could even move this month if the Foxes want to recoup a fee.

Adrien Rabiot: France midfielder Rabiot remains undecided on whether to agree to an extension at Juventus and will not be short of interested clubs should he declare his interest in a departure from Turin. Shock, Arsenal have already been linked.

Luka Modric: The 37-year-old said he wants to continue playing for Croatia until next year’s European Championship. He is holding out for a new deal at Real Madrid and already turned down offers from Major League Soccer and Saudi Arabia. But plenty of European clubs will be monitoring closely.

Best XI of free agents available in summer 2023 including Messi and BenzemaLuka Modric may be holding out for a new Real Madrid contract (Apo Caballero/DAX Images/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Forwards

Lionel Messi: The most coveted name of all, and his stock is even higher after becoming a world champion last month. Does he agree an extension at Paris Saint-Germain? Will he go elsewhere in Europe and even see if he can cut it in the Premier League? Or will he head further afield? The next few months may be dominated by talk of his future.

Karim Benzema: The reigning Ballon d’Or winner remains oddly polarising despite his goalscoring prowess. That France looked so cohesive in his absence during the World Cup may put a couple of technical directors off but there will still be a battle to win his signature unless Real commit to keeping him in Madrid.

Memphis Depay:Barcelona winger showed during the World Cup that he is far more than the player who struggled in difficult circumstances at Manchester United. Would not be a surprise to see him back in England and ready to prove a point come August.

Alan Smith

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