Today is the final matchday of the 2021-22 Premier League season. It is one of the most exciting final gameweeks of recent times. There is a lot at stake for various Premier League clubs as we edge closer to kick-off time.
Plenty to look forward to on the final matchday of the 2021-22 Premier League season
Liverpool trail Manchester City by one point heading into their respective final games of the season. The top four race is also alive with fifth-placed Arsenal currently two points behind their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Manchester United and West Ham United are embroiled in a race to secure UEFA Europa League qualification. On the other side of the table, either Burnley or Leeds United will be relegated alongside Norwich City and Watford.
The 38th gameweek of the 2021-22 Premier League season is mostly about teams and their aspirations. But we can't overlook the individuals involved. Some players could be playing their final game in the English top flight today.
Without further ado, let's take a look at five big stars who could be playing their final Premier League game today.
#5 Mark Noble (West Ham United)
Save for a couple of loan spells at Ipswich Town and Hull City, Mark Noble has been a one-club player. He has been a great servant to West Ham United and received a hero's send-off at the London Stadium after their 2-2 draw against Manchester City.
He is a local boy and a hometown hero who has a reputation for being a very warm and receptive individual. In 549 appearances across all competitions for the Hammers, Noble has scored 62 goals and provided 61 assists.
Getting a win over Brighton & Hove Albion at the AMEX on the final day of the season would be a nice way to end his career as far as Noble is concerned. If West Ham can do that and Manchester United go on to lose their game against Crystal Palace, David Moyes' men will secure a Europa League berth.
But Noble will not be there next season though as this will be his final game as a professional footballer.
#4 Antonio Rudiger (Chelsea)
Antonio Rudiger confirmed by means of an emotional essay to Chelsea on The Players' Tribune that he is leaving the club this summer. The Germany international has been one of Chelsea's best players under Thomas Tuchel and he played a key role in their Champions League triumph last term.
Reliable journalist Fabrizio Romano claimed on April 29 that Real Madrid have an agreement in place to sign Rudiger on a free transfer this summer. Chelsea were unable to see eye-to-eye with the 29-year-old over the terms of a new deal.
Today's game against Watford could possibly be Rudiger's final game in the Premier League.
#3 Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
Chelsea legend Cesar Azpilicueta's contract has been extended by one year by virtue of an appearance clause. As a result, he is now tied to the Blues until next summer but could very well switch clubs this summer.
Barcelona are interested in signing the 32-year-old, as per ESPN. The Spanish international is yet to make a decision on his future. Speaking at a recent press conference, Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel confirmed the same. He said: (via Football London):
"We had a lot of these talks because, very genuinely, it felt like he won everything after the Club World Cup. So, given his personal situation, I can understand these thoughts that maybe a cycle is at its end. Then there's a change of ownership, and he played only under this owner in this structure, so it may have increased his second thoughts about his situation.
"But then his extension kicked in, and at the same time, he loves the club, he loves the challenge, he loves to be here, and he is our captain. So we are still in dialogue, and at some point, we are also selfish. We are not responsible to solve any other club's problems or to fulfil any other club's wishes.
"Given the fact we lose already key defenders, it's not the ideal scenario to think about losing Azpi, even if I can understand his personal point of view. If you are a legend, which he is, you deserve maybe also from me and the club a second look at it, is there may be an exception from the rule. We are still in this process."
#2 Divock Origi (Liverpool)
Divock Origi has attained cult status at Liverpool by virtue of his ability to come up clutch when his team has needed him most. However, the Belgium international has failed to nail down a starting berth at the club. Jurgen Klopp has now confirmed that the 27-year-old will leave Liverpool this summer.
Speaking to the press ahead of Liverpool's final game of the season against Wolverhampton Wanderers, Klopp even hailed Origi as a Liverpool legend. He said (via Liverpool Echo):
"We can only do that with those we know definitely, and that's only Div. Yes, I expect Div to get a special reception and farewell. He is and will be for me forever a Liverpool legend, one of the most important players I ever had.
"That sounds completely strange given the amount of games he had, but it is and was a pure joy to work together with him. It's not over yet - just the last Premier League game - but he deserves all good thoughts we can generate somehow for his future, and wherever he will go he will be successful, 100%.
"An outstanding player, an outstanding boy, everybody in the team loves him because he's just a relaxed guy and a really lovable guy. It will be a harsh moment when he actually leaves, it will for us not be now, but whenever it will be it will be harsh.
"Since I'm here, Div is here. I remember so many things when I think about Div that's incredible, some important goals, some bad injuries, ups and downs. He is a Liverpool legend, no doubt."
Origi is likely to start on the bench against Wolves. He scored a dramatic late winner against Bruno Lage's men in the reverse fixture. Origi is one of the greatest big-game players Liverpool have had in recent times.
He has scored six goals in Merseyside derbies against Everton. He netted a brace in the Champions League semi-final comeback win against Barcelona and scored Liverpool's title-clinching goal in the final as well.
#1 Raphinha (Leeds United)
Burnley and Leeds United are currently tied on points. Burnley are 17th while Leeds United are 18th due to the fact that they have a considerably superior goal difference (-18 as opposed to Leeds United's -38). If Leeds United lose to Brentford today, they will get relegated.
It'd be such a disappointing end to their Premier League campaign and it would be particularly heartbreaking for their star player Raphinha. The Brazilian winger has done an excellent job in an underperforming side. The 25-year-old has scored 10 goals and provided three assists in 34 Premier League appearances this term.
Irrespective of whether Leeds United get relegated or not, Raphinha is likely to leave the club at the end of the season. While several Premier League clubs have registered an interest in Raphinha, as per The Telegraph, he could move abroad as well.
As per a report on GOAL last week, Raphinha has already agreed personal terms with Barcelona ahead of a potential summer switch. Today's game against Brentford could potentially be Raphinha's final game in the Premier League.
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