The best out-of-contract XI

With the transfer market fast approaching and a number of players in the last few months of their contracts, here is a starting XI, including one African, made up of players who are set to be free agents at the end of this season.

To select this team, the CIES Football Observatory compiled a list of 100 players who were nearing the end of their deals and then categorised them into “six different areas for outfield players, including recovery, distribution, chance creation and shooting”, while “goalkeepers are rated on minutes per goal conceded and percentage of saves”, as cited by the BBC.

In goals, according to the CIES rankings, is Napoli shot-stopper Pepe Reina. The former Liverpool goalkeeper has helped his Naples side stay in the Serie A title race with his 17 clean sheets this season.

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Set in a 4-5-1 formation, the team’s backline consists of Juventus trio Kwadwo Asamoah, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini, as well as 32-year-old Bayern Munich wing-back Rafinha.

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In central midfield is Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere and Liverpool’s Emre Can, while Bayern duo Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery were selected as the two wingers.

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Germany international Max Meyer is in the No. 10 role, and leading the line is Italian Mario Balotelli, who has had two good seasons at Ligue 1 side Nice.

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