Picking the Bundesliga's Best Out-of-Contract XI
With the 2013-14 Bundesliga season set to conclude this Saturday, transfer rumors are already beginning to flood the German press.
"Silly season" will soon be in full gear, but as the transfer window approaches, there are some who are more certain than others to leave their respective clubs—most notably, those players who have contracts expiring at the end of June.
By now, most players with expiring contracts will have either reached a new deal or else have declined or been denied an offer from their current clubs.
Sebastian Rode and Robert Lewandowski are prime examples of those who turned down offers from their respective clubs to join Bayern Munich for free this summer. Yet although those two stars are no longer available, there remains considerable quality on the market waiting for the right offer.
Here's a full XI of the best Bundesliga players who may be available for free come July 1.
Goalkeeper: Daniel Davari
There are a couple of Bundesliga goalkeepers available on free transfers this summer, but Daniel Davari is probably the best buy due to his age and quality.
Braunschweig have had a poor season and will be relegated, but Davari just might have a Bundesliga career ahead of him even if his club does not. He's 26 years old and had a decent first season in the German top flight.
A German-Iranian, on Wednesday Davari was called up to the Iranian national team ahead of the 2014 World Cup, per Reuters.
Right-Back: Mensur Mujdza
There was an exodus of key players who left Freiburg a year ago, and Mensur Mujdza appears likely to follow this summer.
Exactly where his next destination will be is a toss-up, but the club he joins will have signed an experienced right-back who knows how to defend in an aggressive, pressing system.
Mujdza has benefited from the tutelage of Christian Streich at Freiburg and matured into one of the best players in the club's ranks over the last couple of years. But he's been plagued by injuries in the current campaign, repeatedly big setbacks limiting his playing time to just seven Bundesliga appearances.
He'll be available free and will perhaps be off the radar of many clubs, but at 30 years of age, he still has something left to offer any side astute enough to recognize his talent.
Center-Back: Roel Brouwers
Like Mujdza, Roel Brouwers is a defender who has benefited from playing for a top coach.
In the case of the Dutchman, playing for Lucien Favre's Gladbach has had him playing very good football in recent years. But this season, Brouwers' age has caught up to him, and his advanced years and some injuries have seen him fall into and out of favor.
The 32-year-old Brouwers has made 12 appearances for Gladbach and lately has even found himself back in the starting lineup from time to time; he played the full 90 minutes in Matchdays 29, 30 and 31. But he will be expected to leave, as there have been no media reports of he and Gladbach reaching an agreement over a new contract.
Center-backs often can play top-flight football well into their 30s, though, and if he finds the right location, Brouwers may well become a starter at another club.
Center-Back: Christian Schulz
Christian Schulz is set to leave Hannover this summer after spending seven years with the Lower Saxony side. The defender may be 31 years of age, but as a four-times-capped Germany international, he still has something to offer.
Schulz was a Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal winner during his time at Werder Bremen and has the very useful quality of being able to play both on the left and in the center of defense. He's started 26 games this season, a testament to how he's valued at Hannover.
But the defender has decided to move on and could be a useful addition to any of a large number of clubs both in Germany and abroad.
Left-Back: Constant Djakpa
Ex-Leverkusen and Hannover man Constant Djakpa is set to leave Eintracht Frankfurt this summer after spending three seasons with the Adler. The Ivorian is one of very few Bundesliga left-backs available on a Bosman transfer.
Djakpa was not first-choice for the entire Bundesliga season but has gained the confidence of Armin Veh over the course of the campaign. He has started all but two matches since Matchday 16 and even scored twice in four Europa league matches.
At 27, Djakpa is in the physical prime of his career. He could be a useful addition to a mid-table team.
Central Midfielder: Tomas Rincon
Tomas Rincon was once one of the rising-star midfielders of the Bundesliga but has since stagnated at Hamburg and will leave the club this summer.
The Venezuelan midfielder was a regular starter for HSV by the age of 22, but now 26 years of age and having been under contract at a fading Hamburg since January of 2009, the time has come for him to move on.
A prolonged absence due to a fractured jaw aside, Rincon has started most games for Hamburg, who although currently teetering close to relegation still have a deceptively great amount of quality in their underperforming players.
Rincon is an example of a midfielder who could leave HSV and have a much better career. The question now is where he'll take his next step.
Central Midfielder: Leon Andreasen
When Hannover signed Leon Andreasen from Fulham in 2009, they'd acquired a central midfielder with strength, quality on the ball and a surprisingly keen eye for goal. Sadly for the player and club, things did not work out so well.
Andreasen was injured from April of 2010 to March of 2012, then tore his ACL just six months after making his long-awaited return. He essentially missed three seasons' worth of football. But every time he's returned, he's shown some class.
Andreasen is now 31 years old and past his prime but has been injury-free throughout the current season. If he stays fit, he might be able to build some form to deliver on the promise he once had. But not at Hannover, it seems, as he now looks sure to leave the club on a Bosman.
Right-Winger: Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting
Hamburg native, ex-Germany under-21 and current Cameroon international Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting is in the form of his life this season, having scored 10 goals for Mainz.
The 25-year-old has long been considered a talent but never truly delivered before the current campaign, his last before his Mainz contract expires.
It appears that Choupo-Moting will leave on a free transfer this summer, although a destination remains unclear. He was previously linked with Hannover, but speaking to Bild in March, sporting director Dirk Dufner revealed that the forward is no longer being considered.
Center-Attacking Midfielder: Aaron Hunt
Many international-caliber playmakers have joined and left Werder Bremen in recent years, among them Diego and Mesut Ozil. Aaron Hunt is the next to follow in line once his contract at the Weserstadion side expires at the end of June.
Hunt is a three-times-capped Germany international and has directly contributed to 15 goals for Bremen this season. At 26 years of age, he still has his best years ahead of him but apparently will not spend them at the struggling northern club.
The latest on Hunt from Bild (h/t Sky Sports) is that he is "unlikely" to join Besiktas despite previous reports linking him with the club and that he still is yet to decide his future.
Left-Winger: Juan Arango
With Gladbach having confirmed the signings of Andre Hahn and Ibrahima Traore this summer, it appears that Juan Arango will leave the club after five seasons at Borussia-Park.
The Venezuelan is a hero at Gladbach, with vice president Rainer Bonhof once having asserted to Bild (h/t Goal.com) that his technical abilities exceed those of club legend Gunter Netzer.
But on Wednesday, Bild reported that Arango was closing in on a move to Mexican side Xolos Tijuana on a two-year contract, having failed to come to an agreement on a multi-year deal with Gladbach.
The soon-to-be 34-year-old winger admitted it will be hard to leave the club and league he loves, but he must now move on. Any team that manages to sign him, Xolos or otherwise, will have acquired a real star with a magical left foot.
Striker: Mame Biram Diouf
Once an outcast at Manchester United, Mame Biram Diouf found a home at Hannover. But the striker appears set to leave the club after two-and-a-half years, with the Lower Saxony side having failed to reach an agreement to extend the Senegal international's stay.
Hannover's loss will be the gain of another club, which will be very fortunate to secure his signature. Although he's spent much of the current season injured, Diouf was directly involved in 19 Bundesliga goals last season and nine in 10 appearances in his first half-season at Hannover.
Wolfsburg recently confirmed talks with Diouf to Kicker (h/t Sky Sports). With VfL destined to play in at least the Europa League, if not the Champions League next season, the 26-year-old will once again be able to show himself on a higher stage than he has recently at Hannover.