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Out of contract Q&A: Willian and Olivier Giroud among Premier League stars in limbo

Premier League season 2019/20 could finish beyond June 30, when the contracts of several players will have expired


A host of Premier League stars will be available for nothing this summer - but how will the coronavirus pandemic affect those who will be out of contract?

UEFA outlined this week that European leagues are committed to ending all domestic seasons by June 30.

It is hoped the outbreak will relent to the extent play can resume as a preference over concluding competitions early with incomplete fixture lists. But public health remains the No 1 priority, so what if the season is extended into July?

That would throw up an interesting debate for those players who are coming to the end of their current deals at Premier League clubs, and Sky Sports have compiled an out-of-contract XI of those that could be placed in a state of limbo...

Several Premier League players are out of contract officially on June 30
Image: Several Premier League players are out of contract officially on June 30

What about players on short-term loan deals?

It is not just players who are out of contract this summer who face an uncertain future. Several Premier League clubs signed players on loan deals this season, meaning that they would in theory return to their parent club at the end of June.

One example is Everton's Djibril Sidibe, the French full-back who is on a season-long loan from Monaco. The Merseyside club have the option to buy the 27-year-old, but when exactly would that be allowed to take place? As it stands, Sidibe wouldn't know if he would be forced to return to Monaco on June 30.

Odion Ighalo with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Image: Manchester United's on-loan striker Odion Ighalo with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Pepe Reina is currently at Aston Villa, on loan from AC Milan, with the veteran goalkeeper expressing his willingness to remain at Villa Park until the 2019/20 season is completed.

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Manchester United are another club who will be anxiously awaiting news from FIFA regarding what measures will be taken to work around the current rules in place given the success of Odion Ighalo's six-month loan spell from Shanghai Shenhua.

How will FIFA handle out-of-contract players?

David Silva is leaving Manchester City at the end of the season
Image: David Silva is leaving Manchester City at the end of the season - but when exactly?

Speaking on Inside Sport, Sky Sports News reporter Kaveh Solhekol:

"FIFA have some working groups who are looking at it. The problem they have at the moment is that a lot of people around the world are worried about their jobs and it's no different if you are a footballer who will soon be out of contract on June 30.

"They're aware that after this date, they will currently not get paid and currently they're not in a position to negotiate a new deal with another club.

"Most players will carry on getting paid for another 28 days - that takes them into July. That's the standard practice in contracts. At the moment, FIFA are having internal talks trying to work out a solution to this problem.

"In the meantime, some players have come out and spoken themselves about their desire to carry on playing beyond the date of their contract expiry. Willian at Chelsea has said his contract is 'just a piece of paper. If the season continues beyond my contract, I will continue playing for Chelsea.'"

What do agents tell out-of-contract clients?

Jan Vertonghen
Image: Jan Vertonghen is another player whose current deal expires this summer

Former Reading forward and football agent Stephen Hunt told Sky Sports:

"It's a tough one, because people in football clubs have families they want to look after, so if I'm going after them at the moment… it's not the right time. I'm trying to keep my distance as an agent because their families are most important.

"Regarding my clients, I would say, 'be calm, don't panic, the season will finish'. The rules and regulations are bound to change as the situation goes along, so a player out of contract on 30th June, all being well, will extend his contract for another month, few months - depending on how long it takes.

"I have loads of invoices that I haven't sent in for the last couple of weeks, because I don't think it's fair to worry about small amounts of money right now. Most important is that the players come back healthy and the clubs go again."

How important is it that FIFA clarify situation?

Ryan Fraser has struggled to hit his standards this season at Bournemouth
Image: Ryan Fraser's contract at Bournemouth expires at the end of the season

"FIFA will have steps in place to deal with certain situations as they go along," Hunt added.

"Right now, they won't want to deal with that at all, if I'm honest - it's not top of their priorities. Top of their priorities is to get the leagues running, and then they will address the situation of players. For me, as an old player, I'd feel I had to play and be loyal. Finish the season with them, get my rest and then let the deal happen.

"It will be complicated - the lawyers will have to deal with it, and if it was my player, I'd be getting my solicitor to look at it to make sure the player's protected - but the clubs have a hard situation. There's no history on this - it's a new case so we'll have to deal with it as we go along."

What do FIFPRO representatives make of situation?

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FIFPro board member Lucien Valloni slams decision by Swiss side Sion to sack nine players after they refused to take a pay cut during the Covid-19 pandemic

Lucien Valloni, Swiss representative for FIFPRO, the global representative for professional football players told Sky Sports:

"Yes, of course [the contract situation is concerning]. Stakeholders have agreed that the European Championship will be delayed, and the main reason was so the national competitions could be finished later on.

"Now we are trying to find the solution on a European level that would allow every competition to finish, and that would also concern the contracts. We have to find a solution.

"For example, every contract is extended automatically - on the same conditions - for the time period necessary to finish the league. If this is done Europe-wide, I think it would help to manage problems when a player already signed for a new club. This would allow the transition and help preserve the competitions on a national level."

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