Top 5 players you may not know were released by clubs in 2021

Aleix Vidal (L), former Barcelona player, is now a free agent
Aleix Vidal (L), former Barcelona player, is now a free agent

With financial turmoil taking over the footballing world, clubs had no option other than to release some players into the wilderness. Nevertheless, there has been no shortage of high-profile deals in the market. Presently, a total of 13 players have been bought or sold for over €20m in this summer transfer window alone, with Jadon Sancho commanding the highest fee among them. To expedite this expenditure of €84.5m, Manchester United released as many as 8 players from their ranks.

In a similar fashion to United, several clubs chose to cut their losses rather than prolonging the stay of certain employees. Arsenal confirmed in a statement that David Luiz would not be continuing at the Emirates stadium, come next season. The aforementioned Manchester club decided to release goalkeepers Sergio Romero and Joel Pereira, along with six other academy graduates.

Other notable players to have been released include Yanick Bolasie from Everton, Willy Caballero from Chelsea, Marcel Schmelzer from Borussia Dortmund and many more.

In the midst of multiple pre-eminent transfers and the exhilaration of two fascinating international tournaments, the Euros and the Copa America, many such releases went unnoticed. Here, we take a look at 5 players you may not know were ostracized from their clubs in 2021.

#5 Ezgjan Alioski from Leeds United

Alioski was one of the better Macedonian players at the Euros
Alioski was one of the better Macedonian players at the Euros

A regular starter at Elland Road, Ezgjan Alioski was recently let go by Leeds United, after 4 years and 171 appearances for the English club. Alioski was instrumental in the Whites' return to the Premier League after 16 years in the Championship. It was also quite obvious that the Macedonian international had Marcelo Bielsa's complete faith, playing 36 times in Leeds' first campaign back in the top flight.

However, due to contractual disagreements, the two parties were not able to concur an extension to his current deal, resulting in the defender's departure. Following this, Leeds released a club statement, saying:

"Whilst the club made offers for Gjanni to stay, we have been unable to reach an agreement with his representatives and his existing contract expired last week."

Signed for a nominal fee of €2.3m from FC Lugano, Alioski's commitment to the club made him a fan favorite during his stay at Leeds. The 29-year-old left-back's offensive threat combined with his knack for putting in constant tackles made him a dangerous prospect. Bielsa exploited this trait to the maximum as 'Gjanni' contributed 5 goal involvements in addition to his average of 2.1 tackles per game in his maiden Premier League season.

Alioski has been heavily linked with Galatasary ever since rumors of a contract dispute first surfaced. Having been released by the Yorkshire club, Alioski is currently without a club. On the flip side, Leeds have already announced the signing of Junior Firpo from Barcelona as his replacement.

#4 Patrick van Aanholt from Crystal Palace

Van Aanholt in action against Ukraine in the Euros
Van Aanholt in action against Ukraine in the Euros

Patrick van Aanholt officially became a free agent on July 1st, after being released by Crystal Palace. Having been a serial-loanee during his time at Chelsea, Van Aanholt played for 5 different clubs in as many seasons. He ultimately left Stamford Bridge with just 2 league appearances for the London club to join Sunderland in 2014.

The Dutch defender played some impressive football at the Stadium of Light, which prompted the Eagles to fork out an initial €10.4m for his services. Van Aanholt went on to play 134 games for Crystal Palace in the subsequent 4 years, mustering 20 goal involvements in that time.

The 30-year-old left-back was called up for Euro 2020 and ended up playing in each of Netherlands' four games at the tournament. Known for his crossing and ability to hold the ball, Frank de Boer deployed him as a left wing-back in his 3-4-1-2 system.

Since being released from Selhurst Park, Van Aanholt has been linked with a possible move to Inter. The Nerazzuri recently sold Ashley Young to Aston Villa and Achraf Hakimi to PSG, respectively.

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Edited by Prem Deshpande
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