Written by Dan Clubbe
Following the news that ‘one of our own’ Curtis Jones agreed on a contract extension until 2027 at Liverpool Football Club, the Reds – albeit perhaps with a board with their eyes on other matters – tied down the long-term future of a budding academy graduate who was previously in the final 18 months of his deal.
However, in truth, the important contract matters don’t end with Jones, as all of Roberto Firmino, James Milner, Naby Keita, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Adrian are all set to become free agents on July 1, 2023, as things stand.
Whilst a reinvigorated Firmino is seemingly sure to be at least offered a new deal to remain on Merseyside, the remaining four with dwindling time left on their contracts are facing a highly uncertain future.
Experienced goalkeeper Adrian is in many ways the ideal third-choice stopper, unlikely to rock the boat, a positive influence around the training ground and capable of passing on his expertise to the young stoppers within the goalkeeping union at the AXA Training Centre, factors that could be enough to earn the Spaniard an extension.
Similarly, the evergreen James Milner continues to defy conventional wisdom and is a reliable option when called upon, particularly when Jurgen Klopp needs someone to help see out a result. Despite his value on and off the pitch, 37 in January, it would be a brave move to offer Milner yet another new deal at Anfield.
Perhaps the most cut-and-dried contract decisions surround midfield duo Keita and Oxlade-Chamberlain. Although on their day both have an abundance of quality to offer to Liverpool, their days remain few and far between due to never-ending injury woes, issues that could likely leave the club with little choice but to either cash in this January or allow both to leave as free agents next summer.
Whatever the club decides over the next few months with this collection of soon-to-be out-of-contract stars will play a not insignificant role in how much business can be done in the mid-season window or indeed thereafter.
Ultimately, keeping the likes of Firmino, Milner and Adrian in situ has more benefits than negatives, particularly on the right terms. Whilst as unfortunate as it may be, Keita and the Ox could be facing a future away from the Reds.