As we edge towards the end of the season in the most bizarre fashion in living memory, several players have also edged towards the ends of their current boot contracts. And with some huge players now “on the market”, you can guarantee that brands will be battling to bolster their squads with some big name signings ahead of next season.

Generally speaking, most players’ boot contracts expire on 30 June of their specific year, ensuring that it occurs when out of regular competition. If a player has not agreed a new deal when their current boot contract expires it essentially leaves them free to play in whatever they choose, and with the season still rolling on across Europe, it means we’re getting to see players advertise their availability in whatever way they want.

Often players will “experiment” with different brands as they try to find the perfect fit, but equally some will continue to play in the boots that they’re comfortable in, instead opting to simply cover up any branding while they negotiate a new deal. Both techniques also serve to alert rival brands to their situation and potential availability. Either way, these are clear indicators that change is afoot... So which players are the brands likely to be battling it out over in the coming weeks?

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Raheem Sterling

Sterling is probably the most coveted player on this list due to his huge potential as both an on and off pitch commodity. Despite reportedly being close to signing a record renewal with Nike back in December, it didn’t stop the likes of New Balance, Under Armour and even Jordan being linked with the England man. More recently though it seemed to be PUMA who were leading the race with a record-breaking £100 million deal, however that doesn’t seem any closer to crossing the line either after Sterling was first seen trialling the new adidas prototype in training recently, before bagging a hat-trick against Brighton in the Nike Phantom VNM ‘Euphoria Gold’ edition. Whoever does bag Sterling’s signature will be getting one hell of an asset, but they’ll be paying top dollar for it.

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Mesut Ozil

Coming off a mammoth seven-year deal with adidas, within which he was the face of the brand’s laceless revolution and the return of the Predator, it looks as though Ozil is now going to enjoy living the single life so to speak, playing the field in whatever takes his fancy from week to week. While that recently seemed to be the Predator Accelerator ‘Electricity’ (don’t blame him there) his agent recently suggested that he could well play in anything from adidas to Nike to PUMA or anything in-between. He’s a free man, but that doesn’t mean that certain brands wouldn’t be keen to tie him down if the opportunity arose. Just don’t bet on it is all we’re saying.

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Hector Bellerin

Sticking with Arsenal, and Ozil’s teammate Bellerin is another player, like Sterling, that has a huge amount to offer both on and off pitch, with his unique outlook on fashion and his outspoken nature positioning him as quite the alternative to the likes of Ronaldo, Mbappe, or Pogba.

Bucking the trend of 30 June expirations, Bellerin’s contract with PUMA ran out back in November. Since then the flamboyant Spaniard has been enjoying the freedom of not being tied down to a contract, switching between brands as he pleases. Following a brief dabble in the adidas X 99.1 and the Predator Mania 19.1, the Spaniard switched into the Nike Mercurial Vapor XIII from the 'Terra Pack’ for the Gunners’ shock loss to Olympiacos in the Europa League back in March, and he’s stuck with the Swoosh since the return of football, although it’s not thought to be as part of a done deal at this stage. Bellerin certainly offers huge potential to any suitors that could tie him down, although the lure of Nike could prove to be too much…

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Nicolas Pepe

Completing a hat-trick of Gunners, and as much as Nicolas Pepe hasn’t seemed to totally settle into life in London, failing to lockdown a starting slot in Mikel Arteta’s regime, he also doesn’t seem to have settled on a pair of boots either. The Ivory Coast international has flitted between adidas, New Balance and PUMA since his arrival in London, but he doesn’t seem keen on committing to any yet and so we continue to watch with interest. For PUMA he’s trialled both the ONE and Future 5.1 as well as the upcoming release over the last couple of months, while most recently he played in the North London derby in the New Balance Furon v5.

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Juan Cuadrado

The former Chelsea man has been an adidas player since his Lecce days in the 2011/12 season, spanning time at Fiorentina, Chelsea and Juventus. But the ominous ‘blacking out’ of his COPA 20.1 in Juve's 4-0 demolishing of former club Lecce suggests that the Colombian's contract with adidas is at an end. Still racking up the appearances for both club and country, although in a more defensive role of late for the Serie A champions, Cuadrado would still be a big name capture, and you can guarantee that the other brands will have taken note and will be circling.

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Moussa Diaby

A hot young talent that’s linked with a host of top European teams, Moussa Diaby is an interesting one due to the manner in which he showed his potential availability. Playing in the semi-final of the DFB Pokal, the Leverkusen man wore the unreleased PUMA prototype, before wearing it again in the Bundesliga match against Hertha. Odd firstly because players very rarely wear unreleased blackout boots in an actual match, but also because he’s been a Nike man to that point, and he reverted back to his Neighbourhood pack Mercurials thereafter. Was it a sneaky way of showing that his contract was coming to an end? Quite possibly, and PUMA would love to snag this talent from under Nike’s nose.

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Presnel Kimpembe

As we all know, Ligue 1 got suspended and then cancelled back in March. Prior to this, Presnel Kimpembe was an adidas man, but since PSG have returned to training he has been seen trialling a blackout version of Nike’s upcoming release, before playing in the Ligue 1 champion’s first friendly match in the Nike ‘Neighbourhood pack’ Mercurial Vapor. He still continues to train predominantly in the X 20.1 from the adidas ‘Uniforia Pack’, but indications are certainly that his contract with the Three Stripes are up and that he favours a move to the Swoosh.

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Honourable mention for Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Who knows what the hell is going on there. Seemed like he had signed with PUMA back in March, trialling their prototype and seemingly settling into the Future silo. But just recently he’s been back in Nike, lacing up in the Mercurial Vapor XIII. Maybe Zlatan just does what Zlatan wants. And who’s gonna argue?

Keep one eye on SoccerBible to find out all the latest boot news as and when it happens.