Chelsea stars N’golo Kante, Jorginho and Thiago Silva, Liverpool forward Roberto Firmino and Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea among free agents in summer as are Lionel Messi, Karim Benzema and Luka Modric

    January is always an important month in the football calendar as it means the transfer window opens.

    However, there is another reason why it is hugely significant and that is because players with six months left on their contracts can start negotiating with foreign clubs.

    The Gakpo transfer started the ball rolling and was completed before January was here

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    The Gakpo transfer started the ball rolling and was completed before January was here

    While millions will be spent by clubs across Europe on shoring up their teams for the second half of the season, many will be spending just as much effort in the free agent market.

    For players, it can also prove to be more lucrative in terms of signing on fees and wages as clubs do not have to splash out on transfer fees.

    Here talkSPORT.com looks at some of the biggest names who will become free agents in the summer.

    Lionel Messi

    Where else to start but the seven-time Ballon d’Or winner and reigning world champion.

    Messi may be 35, but is still at the top of his game after his phenomenal efforts in Qatar for Argentina.

    His Paris Saint-Germain contract expires in the summer and he is yet to pen an extension.

    They are understood to be confident they can get him to extend his stay in the French capital, but that has not stopped the rumours circulating.

    MLS side Inter Miami have been linked, while talk of a return to Barcelona has not gone away.

    Messi finally got his hands on the World Cup last month

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    Messi finally got his hands on the World Cup last month

    Karim Benzema

    From a former Ballon d’Or winner to the current holder… Benzema is another top name who is set to be a free agent.

    Rumours have been rife over a one year extension, but that could be dependent on whether Real Madrid go after Kylian Mbappe this summer.

    The 35-year-old has been at Madrid since 2009 and has scored 331 goals in 618 games.

    Benzema is the reigning Ballon d’Or winner

    AFP

    Benzema is the reigning Ballon d’Or winner

    N’Golo Kante and Jorginho

    The central midfield duo are both set to leave Chelsea at the end of the season and it appears unlikely either will sign extensions.

    World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez looks set to head to Stamford Bridge for a Premier League record fee, signalling that Graham Potter may be happy for them to go.

    Kante’s time at Chelsea could soon be up and has struggled with injuries this season

    Kante’s time at Chelsea could soon be up and has struggled with injuries this season

    Thiago Silva

    The Brazil centre-back has done a brilliant job for Chelsea since he signed as a free agent from PSG in 2020.

    However, he is 38 and the Blues are looking to the future. Kalidou Koulibaly and Wesley Fofana were signed in the summer.

    They are also set to sign Benoit Badiashile from Monaco in January.

    Silva is still playing at a high level for Chelsea, but is a free agent in the summer

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    Silva is still playing at a high level for Chelsea, but is a free agent in the summer

    Roberto Firmino

    Whenever Firmino does leave Liverpool, he will go down in their history as a legend. 

    With his contract expiring and Darwin Nunez arriving in the summer and Cody Gakpo this month, is is understandable that his role with the Reds might start to diminish.

    Jurgen Klopp said contract talks were underway, but that was back in November and nothing officials has been announced.

    Ilkay Gündoğan

    Gundogan was Pep Guardiola’s first ever signing at Man City and has proved to be a bargain for £20m.

    However, his exit in the summer seems inevitable after a trophy laden seven seasons in Manchester.

    That includes four Premier League titles and 276 games, but the versatile midfielder is likely to hit the free agent market.

    Gundogan has scored many important goals for City

    Gundogan has scored many important goals for City

    Youri Tielemans

    Tielemans has continually been linked with a move away from Leicester, most often to Arsenal, but that move looks finally set to come this summer.

    Tielemans seemingly has not intention of signing an extension with the Foxes and at 25 he will be a great free transfer for any side.

    Tielemans will be in high demand if he becomes a free agent

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    Tielemans will be in high demand if he becomes a free agent

    David de Gea

    De Gea has been a brilliant servant to Manchester United, but doubts remain over his future at the club.

    Reports suggested that United have been shopping around for alternative goalkeepers, with Yann Somer heavily linked.

    This may accelerate the 32-year-old’s exit from the club he has been at since 2011.

    De Gea’s future at Old Trafford remains up in the air

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    De Gea’s future at Old Trafford remains up in the air

    Wilfried Zaha

    Crystal Palace’s best player for the last decade, but his future remains up in the air.

    At still only 30, there could be only final big move left for him to show he can do it at a top six club. That ill-fated spell at Manchester United was his only tilt at a club competing at the top end of the table.

    Palace would love to have Zaha pen an extension, but ultimately it will be up to the player.

    Zaha is adored by the Palace fans, but could leave for a second time

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    Zaha is adored by the Palace fans, but could leave for a second time

    Best of the rest

    Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita is also among the Liverpool players who will become a free agent and with their links to the likes of Jude Bellingham it seems unlikely he will stick around.

    Borussia Dortmund wonderkid Youssef Moukoko has been linked to the likes of Chelsea, and plenty of other top European clubs, and will have the pick of his next destination in the summer.

    Veteran midfielder Luka Modric is 37 and set for a Real Madrid exit unless he agrees and extension, although the club are well stocked for when he does leave.

    Inter Milan centre-back Milan Skrinier, who is consistently linked to the Premier League, will also become a free agent.

    Two familiar names in Adrien Rabiot and Memphis Depay are also among the players set to be without a club come July.

    Source

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