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The best players running down their contracts

10 – João Moutinho:

The Portuguese midfielder is coming off a very impressive season with Wolves as he helped the newly promoted side finish 7th and get to the FA Cup semi-finals. João Moutinho was ever present in the Premier League as he started 35 matches and made 3 more appearances from the bench meaning he featured in 38 of the 38 matches. This is remarkable even before taking into consideration he turns 33 in September.

In his 3040 Premier League minutes, Moutinho liked to be part of everything. He averaged 4.1 tackles and interceptions and 49 passes with a pass accuracy of 84.8%. This shows he can win the ball and recycle possession for his side to keep things ticking over. However, he also averaged 2.2 key passes and 3.3 long balls which highlight his adventurous passing which explains the relatively low pass accuracy.

9 – Giorgio Chiellini:

Chiellini has been a mainstay in Juventus’ defence for over 10 years and is still regarded as one of the best centre backs in the world. This experience could be invaluable for any team especially a young side such as Ajax. The 103 capped Italian has slowly been given less game time as he’s got older as Juventus look to life after Chiellini. During 2018/19, Giorgio played 1990 minutes and averaged 2.2 tackles and interceptions per 90.

This does sound low, but Juventus tends to dominate possession more and Chiellini plays as a more reserved defender rather than a proactive one. This is also shown by his 53.4 passes which does include 4.4 long balls with an 84.9% pass accuracy. With the national side, this does increase as he averages 96 passes, 6.3 long balls with an 91.7% pass accuracy. Although his decrease from his prime is evident, his stats show he is still a top performer is his fitness and game time is looked after.

8 – Keylor Navas:

Goalkeepers are difficult to judge from their stats. This is down to if they play for a small club, they’ll face a lot of shots, so they’ll make more saves and concede more. But if they play for a big club, they’ll make less saves and concede less. Keylor has performed for both which shows his qualities. Since the arrival of Thibaut Courtois, Navas’ game time has decreased drastically. In 2017/18, the Costa Rican played 2430 minutes, however this fell to 900 minutes in 2018/19.

The former Levante man averaged 2.3 saves with 1.2 of them coming from shots inside the box. He also has a pass accuracy of 75% as he completes 23.6 passes. Marc-André ter Stegen is regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he averaged 2.4 saves with 1.4 coming from shots inside the box. This shows Navas is still one of the best goalkeepers in the world and would be a great free transfer for any side that needs a goalkeeper even with him turning 33-years-old in December.

7 – Toby Alderweireld:

Despite interest from all over Europe and a buyout clause of £25 million that expired last week, Toby looks to remain a Tottenham player. This is good news for Tottenham as his partnership with Vertonghen is formidable. The former Southampton loanee played 2924 minutes in 2018/19 for the Lily Whites and he averaged 1.8 defensive actions per 90.

Although these aren’t huge numbers, Tottenham tend to dominate possession and box teams in. This is backed up by them averaging the fourth highest possession. Alderweireld completed 69.4 with a pass accuracy of 88.5%. These aren’t safe passes, he attempts 12 long balls per 90, 7.1 are accurate which shows great range with his passing with great accuracy.

6 – Ilkay Gündogan:

Pep Guardiola’s first signing at Man City, Gündogan’s game time has decreased due to injuries and elite level midfielders. However, when Fernandinho got injured towards the end of 2018/19, Ilkay filled in at defensive midfield for the Citizens. This highlights his wide range of skills as not only is it a very difficult role, but also it’s not his own role. Ilkay started 23 Premier League matches last campaign and made a further 8 appearances off the bench. This shows he still has a pivotal role.

Ilkay completed 1.5 tackles and interceptions as Man City defended their Premier League crown. But as City averaged the most possession, 4.1% more than second best Chelsea. Although this is considerably lower then Fernandinho’s 3.4 tackles and interceptions, that is down to Fernandinho playing as the defensive midfielder all season whilst Gündogan only featured there a couple of times. With Ilkay’s amazing pass accuracy of 90.8%, he can keep play ticking over. With his skillset, he would be a great addition for any side.

5 – Jan Vertonghen:

The other half of the formidable partnership at the heart of Tottenham’s side, Jan is also in the last year of his contract. The Belgian may be 32-years-old but he is still a top performer for a top club. Despite his age, the former Ajax start still clocked up 1915 minutes which shows age doesn’t really affect his fitness. He managed to play 1915 minutes at centre back but also played at left back, in the modern game full back is more physically demanding than ever which really highlights his fitness.

Jan averaged 3.3 tackles and interceptions showing he is the more proactive centre back. But Jan is also very involved in play as he averages 69.6 passes with a pass accuracy of 87.5%. This is very similar to Alderweireld’s passing numbers as he averaged 69.4 passes with a pass accuracy of 88.5%. As Toby is regarded as one of the best passing centre backs in world football, this is a huge compliment to Jan.

4 – Timo Werner:

The versatile forward is entering the last year of his contract. With Nagelsmann at the helm, he could be persuaded to stay but with Liverpool and Bayern Munich after him, his decision might already be made. Timo has been brought into the limelight since joining RB Leipzig from Stuttgart as since getting promoted, Leipzig have been challenging towards the top end of the table. Werner has played a big part in Leipzig’s success as he has scored consistently. In 2525 minutes during the 2018/19 season the former Stuttgart man scored 16 and assisted 7 which meant he was his teams’ top scorer and equal top provider as Forsberg also got 7 assists. These numbers are about on par with what is expected as his xG was 17.38 and his xA was 5.61 which is an expected 22.99 direct goal involvements and he ended the season on 23.

As Leipzig finished third behind the dominant Bavarians and the lucky Dortmund, Werner had another impressive season. Werner takes a high 3.6 shots with only 0.4 from outside the box per 90 which highlights his maturity as his shot location is with the elite. Werner is also creative as highlighted by his 7 assists, he averaged 1.2 key passes per 90 which doesn’t sound too impressive but for a predatory striker that’s taking 3.6 shots, this is very high. He emulates aspects of Icardi as the Argentine averaged 2.5 shots with 0.3 from outside the box caveated with 1.2 key passes, and like Icardi, Werner isn’t involved much in build-up play. The Stuttgart academy graduate averaged 25.5 passes with a 74.2% pass accuracy which is very low even for a forward. Like passing. Timo isn’t great at dribbling, he completes 1 dribble per 90 but fails 1.7 per 90. His passing and dribbling abilities highlights why he doesn’t get involved in build-up play and why Leipzig play counter attacking football, therefore Werner thrives there.

3 – Fernandinho:

The Brazilian has become an invaluable cog in Pep’s system which is one of the biggest compliments in world football. Fernandinho started 27 Premier League matches as he had 4 injuries between December and April. This is the only way he has shown his age as his performances have got better under Pep despite being over 30 years old. With the signing of Rodri, this puts less pressure on Fernandinho.

In his 2382 minutes, Fernandinho averaged 3.4 tackles and interceptions. For a side that averaged 64% possession, that is a huge defensive contribution. He completed 70.7 passes which included 0.8 key passes and 2.7 long balls showing some variety in his passing. The former Shakhtar Donetsk star maintained a pass accuracy of 87.5%. These stats show why Pep Guardiola uses Fernandinho like he used Sergio Busquets as he is used to break up play and keep play ticking over.

2 – Christian Eriksen:

The Dane has been Tottenham’s chief creator under Pochettino as highlighted by his 12 assists and key passes per 90. These key pass numbers are bloated by him taking set pieces which create chances f worse quality than those in open play. This is also shown in his shooting stats. He takes 2.4 shots with 1.7 coming from outside the box. The poor shot location is down to Eriksen being on set pieces as well as him fancying himself to score from range.

At 27-years-old, Eriksen has entered his peak years and has another few years left at the top level. Amid interest from Real Madrid for the playmaker as a supposed heir to Modrić role, this could be Christian’s least season in North London. Despite the interest, Pochettino has kept Eriksen as a key player for Tottenham as he started 30 Premier League matches and made a further 5 appearances from the bench. During 2018/19 he clocked up 2772 minutes in which he got 20 direct goal involvements showing his importance to the Lily Whites.

1 – David De Gea:

Arguably still the best goalkeeper in the world, David De Gea is entering the last year of his contract at Old Trafford. De Gea has put in many key performances that has won Man United many points. During 2018/19, Man United conceded 54. Although this is nothing to gloat about by any means, this was a Mourinho third year in which everything collapsed followed by Solskjær’s attacking approach. Man United have been poor since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013. The only constant throughout the following years has been the defence. De Gea has had to play behind incapable defenders but still kept the Red Devils in and around the top 4 which has earnt him interest from Real Madrid and PSG. Ole has offered the shot stopper a new contract that will reportedly earn him £400k a week, if he signs the contract then Man United are sure to keep their excellent keeper for years to come. If he doesn’t sign the contract, they risk losing the Spaniard for free and are dealt with a huge task of replacing him during their rebuild which would be another unnecessary problem.


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