5 players out of contract ahead of 2018 World Cup

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There are many players who are out of contract with their current clubs this summer, but what better way to prove your worth than with an outstanding World Cup campaign.

The 2018 World Cup in Russia will provide those stars who could be without a club to put their hand up and impress on the biggest stage of all.

With all eyes on the most popular football tournament from 14 June - 15 July, it acts as a shop window for those players looking for pastures new.

We have picked out five players who have yet to sign a new contract with their club, or will be looking for a new adventure.

Pepe Reina

The veteran Napoli goalkeeper has been in fantastic form this season for his club, conceding only 23 goals in 34 games so far this season - the second lowest in Serie A.

Napoli sit only one point behind leaders Juventus after a late 1-0 win against the Turin side on Sunday, so Reina has the potential to enter the World Cup as a league winner.

The 35-year-old has played for some of the biggest teams in European football, including Barcelona, Liverpool and Bayern Munich.

With Manchester United's David de Gea in such fantastic form, and arguably the best goalkeeper in the world currently, Reina will be Spain's second choice, but is more than capable of stepping in should something happen to de Gea.

Reina has played over 100 times since rejoining Napoli in 2015, having spent the 2013/14 season on loan with the club, and was first called up to the national team in 2005.

It is surprising that Napoli haven't moved quickly to extend Reina's contract given their defensive strength with him in the side.

There have been some reports in the media that Reina has attracted interest from AC Milan, who could be looking to replace young star Gianluigi Donnarumma, who is a target for the likes of Real Madrid and Paris St Germain.

Milan are still fighting for a European place next season, and the proposition of playing top tier football for a historic club could seal the deal for Reina's move to the San Siro.

Pepe Reina Pepe Reina

Jack Wilshere

The Arsenal midfielder has had an injury-ravaged career to date, but on his day, could be one of the most important players in the English squad.

He has impressed in the Europa League this season, with Arsenal reaching the semi-final, and has managed to work his way back into the starting team in the Premier League on the back of those performances.

Wilshere has been at Arsenal since 2001, coming through their youth academy before signing his first professional contract in 2008, and has made over 100 league appearances.

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He spent the 2016/17 season on loan at Premier League rivals Bournemouth, and many thought that was the decision made by Arsene Wenger on Wilshere's future at the club.

The 26-year-old has had terrible luck with injury, and since the start of the 2014/15 season has spent 496 days on the sidelines with problems such as ankle injuries (twice), a hairline crack in his calf bone (twice) and a knee injury in 2016.

Wilshere would be a guarantee to be in Gareth Southgate's squad based solely on ability, but with his unreliable history, it could count against him.

It is very likely he will be on the plane to Russia, and it is a major chance to show he is past the problems that have stopped his progression and is ready for a full season of football next year, whether that be at Arsenal or further afield.

Jack Wilshere Jack Wilshere

Emre Can

The Liverpool midfielder hasn't played since March, and having missed an important part of the season, time is running out to get back playing and secure his place in Germany's World Cup squad.

When at full fitness, Can has been an important part of his national team, and was part of the squad called up for the recent international friendly against Spain.

The 24-year-old joined Liverpool from Bayer Leverkusen in 2014, having previously been on the books of Bayern Munich, and has gone on to represent his current club over 100 times in the Premier League.

He received his first international call-up three years ago, and was part of the squad that won the Confederations Cup in 2017.

Can's potential has been there for all to see in recent years, earning himself a place in the Europa League Squad of the Season in 2015/16, and was named Liverpool's Young Player of the Year in the same year.

The German has proved to be a useful commodity for Jurgen Klopp, being able to play in midfield and defence, and it could be that versatility that secures Can's ticket on the plane to Russia.

Klopp is hopeful that Can will return from his back injury before the season ends, and will look to extend his contract beyond the summer.

There have been widespread reports that Can will move to Serie A to link up with Juventus.

Emre Can with Mo Salah Emre Can with Mo Salah

Stephan Lichtsteiner

The Swiss defender has been at Juventus since 2011 after signing from Lazio, but his time with La Vecchia Signora could be coming to an end.

The 34-year-old has made over 250 appearances for Juve, playing a part in six Serie A title successes and three Coppa Italia's.

Lichtsteiner has also proved his versatility, combining his solid defending with the ability to attack down the right wing, whether that be as a right back or as a right-wing back, as usually deployed by Max Allegri.

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Lichtsteiner is captain of Switzerland, and was a vital part of the side that won nine of their 10 World Cup qualification group stage games, and then eliminated Northern Ireland in the play-offs.

Switzerland could be dark horses to make a deep run in the competition, with the likes of Yann Sommer, Ricardo Rodriguez, Granit Xhaka and Breel Embolo all in their ranks.

There have been potential suitors already looking to require the services of Lichtsteiner, with Bundesliga side Schalke keeping an eye on him.

He has also been linked with Marseille, Inter Milan, Napoli and a switch back to his former club Lazio.

Stephan Lichtsteiner Stephan Lichtsteiner


Marseille defender Rolando is also out of contract this summer, and will be looking to secure his place in Portugal's squad for the showpiece event in Russia.

Having started his professional career with Belenenses, Rolando made the switch to Portuguese giants Porto, where he spent seven years, winning four Primeira Liga titles and the 2011 Europa League.

While on the books of Porto, the 32-year-old enjoyed loan spells at Napoli, Inter Milan and Anderlecht, where he was part of the side that finished runners-up in the Belgian Cup in 2015.

He signed a contract with Marseille in 2015, and has played over 70 times for the club, but his time at the club started in rocky fashion.

Marcelo Bielsa was replaced as head coach by Michel shortly after Rolando's arrival in France, and he didn't see the defender in his long-term plans, and placed him on the transfer list.

However, since Rudi Garcia was appointed as boss in 2016, Rolando has been a regular in the starting line-up, and has helped his club earn their place in the top four in Ligue 1 this season.

Rolando was part of Portugal's squad at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but didn't make a single appearance.

Having earned his first cap in 2009, he was called up to the national squad for the first time since 2014 for the last two friendlies against Egypt and Netherlands in March.

He has returned from injury recently, and will be part of the Marseille squad looking to make it to the Europa League final with a win over Red Bull Salzburg.

Rolando Rolando

*all information correct as of 27/04/2018

Words: Johnny Morton

Images: PA

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