CLUBS are relying on bargain free transfers now more than ever but plucking star players entering the last year of their contracts could become a major factor this summer.
Several big names must renegotiate their deals before they expire in June 2021.
It is understandable that even the wealthiest sides are waiting patiently before sitting down to talk money with their key men.
However they may find themselves out of pocket if caught napping and allowing stars to go for free.
A fantastic team of players who will be out of contract in 2021 can be put together with plenty of talent left on the bench.
In goal, both Manuel Neuer and Gianluigi Donnarumma's deals are up with AC Milan finding it very difficult to tie their shot-stopper down to a new deal.
Bayern Munich, meanwhile, are "optimistic" of securing Neuer's future despite buying Alexander Nubel as competition for next season.
And one player who could also be arriving at Allianz Arena is Dayot Upamecano, the talented RB Leipzig defender strongly linked with the Bavarians.
Much has been made that the Frenchman, 21, has less than 18 months left on his contract and he is reportedly refusing to sign an extension.
David Alaba could even move on with the defender another Bayern ace whose deal is subject to discussions, which are reportedly not going to plan.
Although, it would be hard to imagine Sergio Ramos' talks with Real Madrid turning sour and the Blancos captain is yet to sit down and thrash out a plan for his future with the club.
A star-studded midfield is formed around three more players subject to intense speculation.
Manchester United do hold a 12-month option on Paul Pogba's contract before it expires in 2021 but triggering that before his issues with the club are resolved has been described as not a very wise move.
Adding to Bayern's plate yet further is Thiago Alcantara, the 29-year-old playmaker reportedly nearing a new deal in Germany.
The same cannot be said of James Rodriguez and Spanish media believe the attacking midfielder is unlikely to see out his deal in Madrid with the club desperate to sell him this summer.
Several other well-known midfielders must also sort their future before next June, including Angel Di Maria, Memphis Depay, Jesse Lingard, Ivan Rakitic and Mesut Ozil.
AUBA AND OUT
A plentiful supply of attackers could be coming on the market ahead of their contract running down in 2021, the most interesting of which is undoubtedly Lionel Messi.
The Barcelona hero put pen to paper on a four-year deal in November 2017 and is said to have no interest in the "lifetime" deal purportedly on offer at the Camp Nou.
Given that Messi already has a contract clause allowing him to leave the club for free anytime he wants, negotiations could go to the wire in what might even be the 32-year-old's final Blaugrana deal.
Manchester City are rumoured to be a keen viewer of Messi's situation but must also sort out Sergio Aguero's by the middle of next year.
A return to Argentina has been openly discussed by the striker with no guarantees over his commitment to the team where he holds the status of record goalscorer.
Leroy Sane's deal is also up in 2021 and has been subject to speculation over interest from Bayern Munich.
And Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completes this stunning XI while Arsenal struggle to nail down their captain's future.
Arguably, the Gabonese forward is the most talked about of all the players on this list going into the summer with teams lining up to tempt the Gunners into a cash-in.
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