It’s a tricky time for football fans! It’s a tricky time for life in general and things must be put into perspective. But football can be more than a game. A chance to socialise and let your mind separate from the stresses of everyday life.
Time still passes though and, as always, clubs and players cannot always agree on the future. It is around this time that players with a few months left on their contracts start to look elsewhere. Unfortunately, with the end of the season hanging in the balance, many of these stars may never be seen in their clubs’ shirts again. We look at 6 players who may not play for their clubs again.
1 – Dries Mertens – Napoli
The words ‘club legend’ can get thrown about a lot. The opposite can be true too with players reaching legend status without too much celebration outside of from the club fans themselves.
Marek Hamšík departed as club legend having broken Diego Maradona’s goalscoring record and playing an unmatched 520 games. On 25th February 2020 Dries Mertens matched Hamšík’s goal record of 121 goals, in 211 fewer games.
The 32-year-old Belgian’s contract ends this summer, and many are wondering whether this legend-in-waiting has played his last game in a Napoli shirt. A potentially anticlimactic but perhaps perfect ending, two of the clubs biggest, and most loyal, stars could share the crown as top goalscorer.
2 – Edinson Cavani- Paris Saint Germain
Another player that joined his club in their surge to the top was Edinson Cavani. 76 goals in 104 games at Napoli led to a reported €64 million transfer to PSG in 2013. Seven years, 200 goals, 5 titles and 1 Player of the Year award later, Cavani looks set to leave. Signings of Kylian Mbappé and Neymar looked to seal the fate of the Uruguayan as the super club looked forward. Followed up with incoming Pablo Sarabia and Mauro Icardi and the forward seems to have been pushed down the list.
Still playing, Cavani has 14 league appearances this season, but there is slim chance he will be seen as a starting striker again. Looking close to leaving in January, the striker held on and remained in Paris. But with his contract ending at the end of the season, the 200 goal man looks to be moving on.
Originally wanted by Atlético Madrid, who currently seem to be struggling for goals despite knocking Liverpool out of the Champions League in what turned out to be one of the last games played before the hiatus, Spain could be next for the seasoned striker. Other options could see him try the Premier League, with Chelsea looking for a striker, or returning back to South America.
3 – David Silva – Manchester City
There is a bit less speculation around this one, as manager Pep Guardiola stated earlier in the season that this was to be Silva’s last. Silva is another player who has spent a great proportion of his career at the top level with one club. Once again looking to depart as a legend, Silva would not have thought his City career would end this way, despite being handed the captaincy this season. As of yet we are unsure how the Premier League season will end. Will the Spaniard end it as reigning champion? (in the event of a voided season) Or will it be a disappointing end as Liverpool are handed the crown.
Silva, along with players such as Sergio Agüero and Vincent Kompany, spent many years at City. The playmaker won 4 titles, scoring 57 goals and providing 90 assists. Even outside of the club he must go down as one of the most talented players to play in the last few years. (arguably the oil money era).
One club being linked with his signature is AC Milan, in Serie A, where the playmaker is a key role. They are also perhaps required to do less defensive work than Pep Guardiola’s high-intensity Man City. Another club being mentioned is none other than Inter Miami. David Beckham’s new club is looking to establish itself in the world of football, and a signing like David Silva is big enough to do just that!
4 – Mario Götze – Borussia Dortmund
Not many players have had a more strange, disappointing, and quite sad story than Mario Götze. Bundesliga winner and World Cup winner, Götze scored the winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final. He then followed the steps of Robert Lewandowski and moved to Bayern. But, not quite hitting the expectations that had been placed on his young shoulders, Götze fell out of favour. He moved back to Dortmund in 2016, the club that shaped his youth.
Unfortunately he has been unable to make a splash. Scoring just 14 goals in 98 appearances, times have been tough for the German. He has had to compete with the likes of Jadon Sancho, Thorgan Hazard and Julian Brandt fora place and has started only 5 games this season.
Götze’s contract ends in the summer and it is looking likely that it will not be renewed. Still on 27, there is still hope for him, but maybe a change will need to be made. Germany legend Lothar Matthäus stated:
“I can’t see him joining a top club.”
“Mario has achieved so much and secured the World Cup for us [in 2014]. He had great years at Dortmund and also had his moments at Bayern. But you have to ask: Where is a type of player like Götze in demand?
“He has to take a step down in his career, not just club-wise, but also in terms of salary.”
No one is sure where he will end up. Having spent his whole career in Germany, there is a chance he will want to stay in his home country, perhaps looking at a mid table side to get some play time. Or maybe he will try to reignite his lost spark elsewhere.
5 – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – Arsenal
One of the most high-profile potential ‘maybe’s’ in the Premier League involves Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonese striker has ripped apart the Premier League since joining from Borussia Dortmund. 49 goals and 10 assists in 75 games, no one in an Arsenal shirt has come close to the consistency found by their £56 million man.
But this success may also prove to be the downfall for the North London club. Since the departure of historic manager Arsène Wenger, the team have slipped out of the top 4 and are now competing hard to get it back. A Europa League final meant they were 90 minutes away from getting back, but it wasn’t to be.
Now 9th, the club have shown a resurgence since new manager Mikel Arteta has taken the role, and we wrote about the Spaniard’s new influence on the side here. But, at 30 years old, Aubameyang might be looking for his final hurrah and with the club failing to overcome Olympiakos in this seasons Europa League – there is no more chance of a Champions League spot next year.
Despite being named as the club captain, seeming associations with controversial Arsenal Fan TV have meant that he has rubbed some fans up the wrong way. Youngsters like Gabriel Martinelli and Eddie Nketiah are fighting hard for a spot too, so cashing in could be the right move.
Recently being linked with Manchester United, it is doubful that this move would come into fruition. Seeming to more of a product of the media-United rumour mill. He has been linked with Real Madrid in the past, shown he can do it in Germany and Italy too, there is no doubt many would want the striker if he and Arsenal decide to part ways.
6 – Gareth Bale – Real Madrid
Not a real surprise to any, you can bet that Gareth Bale will be looking to leave Madrid this summer. After his controversial banner ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid in that order’ it’s clear to see he has had his differences with the Spanish side!
Nasty words spoken on both sides, it is a shame to see relationships sour after the Welsh winger has provided some great moments for the club. But, frequent injuries have plagued his career, and many believe Bale never reached his potential in the capital. A big price tag and big wages mean he has been hard to shift in the past and, links to many clubs have never come into fruition.
But it would be a big surprise if he remained where he was, despite Madrid’s struggling new signings. Many have tipped him for a sensational return to Spurs, where it began, if Harry Kane departs in the summer. Other options include Serie A, or perhaps China or USA, locations previously explored by the winger.
No one knows yet how the season will end. It may be delayed into the summer and played out, or it may be ended fr the foreseeable future. If it is the latter, and no more games to be played until the new season, then many players will move without having a proper goodbye.