With the new Premier League season approaching, many players will feel the chance once again to show what they are capable of.
Some will be fully aware that they are playing for their survival at their current clubs, as the ruthless nature of the modern game means that they can be replaced by a new signing with relative ease.
Here are five such players, who need to have big seasons if they are not to find themselves on the transfer list this time next summer.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal)
While he is still only 22, Oxlade-Chamberlain has not quite progressed to a level that Arsenal thought he’d be at by now when they bought him for £12m five years ago. In fact, there were strong rumours that he might be allowed to leave this summer, such was their level of disappointment.
Injuries have played their part, but a return of 49 Premier League starts since 2011 will need to be drastically improved upon if he is to have a long-term future at the club.
He has enjoyed a good pre-season for the club, scoring two well taken goals in that time, but the Riyad Mahrez speculation will have done little to reassure him over his position at the Emirates.
Arsène Wenger has already said that this will be a big season for the young England international – now it is up to Oxlade-Chamberlain to show why he cost so much money as a 17-year-old.
Memphis Depay (Manchester United)
Hopes were high for the Dutch international following a £25m move to Old Trafford from PSV last summer, but Memphis has been underwhelming to say the least.
His return of 2 Premier League goals last season belied his reputation as a relatively prolific finisher, while question marks about his attitude and rumours of arguments with then-manager Louis van Gaal led to many supporters souring on the 22-year-old. He lost his place in the side towards the end of the season, and was not even on the substitutes’ bench for the side’s FA Cup final victory.
The arrival of Henrikh Mkhitaryan has put his place in the team into further jeopardy, and Memphis knows he has a lot of work to do if he is to earn a place in the side under new boss José Mourinho.
Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool)
There is no doubting Sturridge’s ability, but the same cannot be said for his reliability. The England international was plagued by injuries for almost two years, to the point where it looked at one point like Jurgen Klopp was considering selling him.
He is still at Anfield but his position as Liverpool’s number one striker is under threat. Klopp rates Divock Origi very highly, and but for injury at the end of last season would probably have started ahead of Sturridge in the Europa League final.
Sturridge, when fit, is one of the best strikers in the Premier League, as a return of 43 goals in 69 league games for Liverpool can attest to. Just 26 of those appearances, however, have come in the past two seasons.
It is absolutely vital for him that he has a relatively full season this year to convince the manager that he can be relied upon long-term.
Vincent Kompany (Manchester City)
Like Sturridge, on his day Kompany is one of the best in his position in the league – but also like Sturridge, that day does not happen nearly often enough.
The Man City captain made just fourteen appearances last season amid growing concerns about his ability to handle a full Premier League season, and although he should be is only 30-years-old, his fragility could have serious ramifications for his place as a top-level centre back.
New boss Pep Guardiola has already admitted that he is worried about the Belgian international’s long-term fitness, and with John Stones due to arrive in the coming days/weeks, and the Leonardo Bonucci rumours persisting, Kompany is already fighting a battle to keep himself in Guardiola’s plans.
Pedro Rodríguez (Chelsea)
The Spanish international winger was at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war between Chelsea and Manchester United last summer, before ultimately joining the former in a £21m deal from Barcelona.
Having started brightly enough at Stamford Bridge, Pedro’s performance level quickly plummeted (as, to be fair, did that of most of Chelsea’s team). But while many of those players are young enough to regain their composure, Pedro is pushing 30 now, not the ideal time for a “temporary” blip in form.
The threat of a 3-5-2 from Antonio Conte also looms, a formation that the forward would be wholly unsuited to. Not only will one more bad season at Chelsea end his career in England, it may kill off his top-level future (as well as his hopes of another international recall from Spain) altogether.