It’s that time of the year again, the time to speculate about which out of contract players will sign a new contract or which will end up moving for free looking for a big payday somewhere else. For some clubs at the bottom of the table, it’s difficult to start doing so because of the uncertainty of their future. HSV Sport Director Oliver Kreuzer stated that while many of the current contracts would still be valid for the 2. Bundesliga, players and club do not want to talk yet until they know in what division they’ll be playing in next season. It’s a tricky time of the year for people like Kreuzer, who have to evaluate whether players out of contract deserve a new one at a high cost or whether they should be let go with the risk of it being a huge mistake. Here are five players whose contract runs out in the summer of 2014.
Andreas Beck – TSG 1899 Hoffenheim
After Sejad Salihović, Beck is the player in Hoffenheim’s squad who has been at the club the longest, arriving from VfB Stuttgart in 2008. Team captain, Beck is a highly-capable right-back who is also capable of playing on the other flank. His versatility and projection make him a very attractive players for many clubs in search of a full-back this summer, not just because of his playing abilities but also his experience, although still just 27 years of age. Beck has also been capped 9 times by the German national team, albeit not since 2010, but there is no doubt he is one of Germany’s hottest free agents this summer. Reports have even linked him strongest with Inter Milan and Dinamo Moscow, although the names of CSKA Moscow, Lokomotiv Moscow and Zenit St. Petersburg have also come into the frame. Why so many Russian teams? Beck was born in Kemorovo, a few miles east of Novosibirsk, and moved to Germany at the age of three. His Russian roots (and the excellent payday) might make the decision for him this summer, particularly with the apparent lack of interest from German sides… except Hoffenheim, of course.
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting – 1. FSV Mainz 05
Mainz have had an excellent season so far and Choupo-Moting has been one of the biggest actors in this fantastic story. With 9 goals and 3 assists, the Cameroon international has attracted plenty of interest from clubs in the Bundesliga. In February, manager Thomas Tuchel stated that a contract extension was to arrive shortly but nothing has come since and the player has asked Mainz sport director Christian Heidel for “time”, which leads to the notion that Choupo-Moting might have already made his mind up to pack his bags and leave for a bigger club in the summer. The names of Hertha Berlin, Wolfsburg, Hannover and even Inter Milan have been thrown in the mix, with scouts allegedly attending some of Mainz’s matches. If he leaves, Choupo-Moting will want to find a club with a bigger profile that is playing in Europe but where he can also develop. Wolfsburg would apparently look like the perfect choice but if he continues to carry on with his current form, bigger names might be coming in from now until June.
Didier Ya Konan – Hannover 96
A serious ankle injury against Hertha Berlin back in October left Didier Ya Konan out of action for five months. The Ivorian striker made his comeback against Leverkusen three weeks ago but he no longer has the status he had previously. Since his injury, the club have changed manager and have introduced Artjoms Rudņevs into the frame. Even with injuries to him, Mame Biram Diouf and Artur Sobiech, Edgar Prib was given the nod as a lone striker in the 3-0 defeat at Dortmund, which leads to believe that manager Tayfun might not have big plans for Ya Konan in the future. It’s highly likely that Ya Konan would have to take a pay cut to stay at the HDI-Arena and if he does not assurances that he will have a key role to play, he might choose to look somewhere else. Tayfun has not yet come out and publicly stated that he wants him to stay, rather evading the question altogether. Looks like his five years at Hannover could be coming to an end.
Aaron Hunt – SV Werder Bremen
Hunt is Werder’s most talented player and one who has been at the club since 2001, making his first-team debut in 2004 and being an integral part of the squad since then. These last few years have not been kind to Werder in terms of success and good players have left with not-so-good replacements coming in, which has lead to a decrease in standards at the Weser Stadion. With Werder not achieving the expected heights, Aaron Hunt’s contract renewal was always going to be an issue. Despite the team’s relative poor form, Hunt has managed to perform well this season with 4 goals and 7 assists and this has put other clubs on alert. His English heritage has meant that many clubs in the Premier League have been looking at Hunt and England will most likely be his next destination. The ‘will he/won’t he’ renew his contract game is now over and Hunt looks to have made the “most difficult decision of my life”. With an offer on the table from Tottenham Hotspur and strong rumoured interest from Stoke City, he will more than likely move to England, although there is also specific interest from Beşiktaş and some from the Bundesliga in the shape of Leverkusen and Gladbach, although both are unlikely. A shame for the Bundesliga and a gain for the Premier League or the Süper Lig.
Ibrahima Traoré – VfB Stuttgart
Perhaps one of the worst-kept secrets in the Bundesliga is that Ibrahima Traoré will not be renewing his contract with Stuttgart. Another badly-kept secret is that Traoré has already signed with Borussia Mönchengladbach for next season. Gladbach have been looking for a replacement for Juan Arango, whose contract is up in the summer and might be looking for a last big payday in South America. A replacement has been found in the lightning-fast Guinean winger, whose free transfer won’t also command a ridiculously-large signing fee. Win-win. However, Traoré has not yet admitted that he is signing with die Fohlen, stating that “where I’m playing next season is quite simply not important right now. I won’t say it out of respect for the people of Stuttgart. I don’t want anyone to think that my mind is already at another club”. While there is little mystery here, the signing of Traoré for Gladbach on a free is a major coup for Lucien Favre and his side, as Traoré can both score and assist and is still a growing talent. One of the best names on the free-agent list has already been snapped up.