Emotional departures await: 11 players waving goodbye to their Premier League club on Sunday
The final day of the season is set to be the most dramatic one yet in Premier League history, with the title race, relegation battle and hunt for Champions League football all still to be decided when all ten games kick off at 4pm on Sunday.
But, for some, the end will be bittersweet, with plenty of players out of contract or ready to find a new challenge when this rollercoaster season culminates.
101 have assembled an XI of players that will be waving goodbye to their current clubs, and possibly the Premier League, on Sunday.
Beginning with a veteran shot-stopper, Ben Foster has announced that Sunday will be his final game in a Watford shirt. The 39-year-old joined the Hornets in 2018, and has made over 200 appearances for the Hornets across the Premier League and Championship, keeping 54 clean sheets in the process.
Now likely past his peak, a trip to Stamford Bridge will be his last in Watford colours, and where he heads next remains to be seen.
A man who seems certain to stay in the Premier League even if Burnley do not, James Tarkowski will be playing his final game for the Clarets this weekend. Tarkowski was restored to the heart of Burnley’s defence against Aston Villa after missing the Tottenham defeat, and will surely play a key role on Sunday as the Lancashire side fight to stay up.
But, after 200 games, he is set to depart Turf Moor on a free this summer. He will want to sign off by keeping his side in the top flight for next season.
The first of a pair of Chelsea players, Andreas Christensen will be swapping Cobham for the Camp Nou this summer when his contract in west London comes to an end this summer.
The Dane has been at the club for a decade, since he joined the youth setup from Brondby, and has made 200 appearances across the youth and senior setup for the Blues.
While he has not always been the flavour of the month at Stamford Bridge, he has been a key part of Thomas Tuchel’s backline upon the German reverting to a back three, and will be hoping that his best years still remain ahead of him in Spain.
Another Chelsea defender out of contract, another one jetting off to Spain. Antonio Rudiger has become a cult hero at the club not solely for his ability, but also for his commitment and full-blooded nature on the pitch.
However, the club have been unable to agree a deal with the German to keep him beyond this summer, and he will be joining Real Madrid as a free agent.
🗣 “Chelsea has been great to me”
Antonio Rudiger confirmed he will be leaving Chelsea after sanctions placed on outgoing Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich made it impossible for him to stay, he’s agreed a 4 year deal with Real Madrid 👇 pic.twitter.com/CMG46KLdV5
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) May 15, 2022
It means that the German’s final appearance will come, in all likelihood, against already relegated Watford on the final day of this season.
The first in a veteran loaded-midfield, 37-year-old Fernandinho is leaving Manchester City after nine years of service to the club, winning 11 trophies in the process.
Having racked up 382 appearances for the side under several different managers, the Brazilian has been very much a bit part player this season as his age begins to show, managing just 900 Premier League minutes to date.
And it is unclear whether he will get the send-off he deserves either, with Manchester City needing a win on the final day to secure the Premier League title. Might Fernandinho’s farewell be sacrificed for that?
Mr West Ham has already had his farewell at the London stadium, but could make his final Hammers appearance in their final day clash with Brighton at the Amex Stadium on Sunday.
Thank you, Mr West Ham.#MN16 pic.twitter.com/aOndI9vDph
— West Ham United (@WestHam) May 15, 2022
Having been a West Ham player all of his life, Noble has racked up 549 appearances across two divisions for the Irons, and is in line to retire on exactly 550 if he takes to the pitch against the Seagulls.
A return to the club in a coaching capacity seems inevitable.
Not afforded the chance to wave goodbye to his home fans in Manchester United’s 3-0 win over Brentford, Lingard has one last chance to pull on the Manchester United shirt he has worn since childhood in the Red Devils’ final game of the season away to Crystal Palace.
— Jesse Lingard (@JesseLingard) May 3, 2022
The 29-year-old is set to leave in the summer, with his contract up and Lingard reportedly having no interest in remaining at Old Trafford. Whether Rangnick will give him the chance to say farewell to the away fans at Selhurst Park, however, is another matter.
Underrated for his time at Manchester United, the Red Devils now have the unenvious task of replacing the defensive midfielder this summer. Joining for big money from Chelsea, he has managed nearly 200 appearances for the club, more than he managed in west London.
As classy as ever, @NemanjaMatic 🙏❤️#MUFC
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) May 19, 2022
The 33 year old will be leaving at the end of the season, and the game against Patrick Vieira’s side will be his final outing.
The last of the Manchester United exodus, Juan Mata is another veteran midfielder set to depart Old Trafford at the season’s end. Like Matic, Mata arrived for a significant sum from Chelsea, this time in 2014, but has never really hit the heights that he did at Stamford Bridge for the Red Devils.
Mata lifted the FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League across his near 300 appearances for Manchester United, but was increasingly underutilized by first Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and then Ralf Rangnick.
Perhaps not the most popular name on this list, Alexandre Lacazette will nonetheless be calling time on his five year Arsenal career after 205 appearances. In Arsenal’s final game of the season, against Everton at the Emirates Stadium, Lacazette may get a chance to bid the fans farewell.
It is far from certain, however, given the form of Eddie Nketiah, which has largely left Lacazette as a substitute in recent weeks. Nketiah too is set to leave the club, but it is Lacazette’s high profile departure that makes the cut on this list.
A cult hero rather than a world-beater, Divock Origi continues to make telling impacts from the bench, most recently against Everton to steal three points at the death.
However, Origi is set to leave Anfield this summer, having managed just 126 Premier League minutes this campaign, and his part in the side reduced further by the arrival of Luis Diaz.
Divock Origi has no doubts on his next destination: he’s just waiting to complete medical tests and sign the contract as new AC Milan player in the coming weeks. 🔴🤝 #ACMilan
Liverpool have already accepted his decision – he’s definitely leaving on a free transfer #LFC ⤵️ https://t.co/ZdJKTcCckp
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) May 19, 2022
Now leaving this summer, with AC Milan looking like the most likely destination for the Belgian, he will depart an Anfield cult hero. Like Fernandinho, however, the closeness of the title race may prevent him from making a final farewell in the last game of the season.