Stagnation is a very real problem in football. To constantly improve themselves players need to set targets for themselves and work towards improving some aspect of their game to keep themselves vested and not play just for the money.
As time passes a lot of different factors come into play that might cause a player to stagnate at a club:
-- Disagreement with a manager can lead to players being frozen out of their teams
-- The signing of new players can lead to the said player spending a lot more time warming the bench
-- Change in philosophy can mean a player doesn't fit the style of the team any more.
A lot of things play a part in a player deciding to move on from a club.
Transfers away from a particular club can help players show their true worth in a team that is more suited to the way they play. James Rodriguez is a prime example of this. He didn't fit in at Real Madrid in spite of his best efforts. He took a chance and shifted to Bayern in Germany and is now reaping the benefits. He is playing regular football in his preferred position with players who understand him and can get the best out of him.
Given that the transfer market opens in less than a month, the following players could be looking to move as soon as now or might look to wait it out till the end of the season and then take a decision about their careers.
Here are a few players who need to have a good hard look in the mirror and make a decision as to where their career is headed at their current club. A decision has to be made if they still intend to fight for a spot in the team or look to get a move to another club.
Isco was one of the centrepieces of Zidane's side that won three continuous Champions League titles, so much so that he was given the nod ahead of Bale in the final against Liverpool. The little Spaniard was the reason James Rodriquez was shipped out of Santiago Bernabeu. Isco has accumulated fifteen trophies in his time at the capital, but is once again on fringes of the squad.
Zidane showed a lot of faith in his ability and Isco had become an integral part of the squad as Madrid shifted to a two-man front line of Ronaldo and Benzema with Isco playing in the hole and offering a different goal threat along with the likes of Modric and Kroos providing goals from midfield.
This season has been a different story altogether. Santiago Solari seems to prefer a 4-3-3 formation leaving Isco playing out of position or left on the bench. This season he has played close to 500 minutes in the league in 14 matches. Solari appears to prefer working with academy graduates and has left Isco out of the bench or out of the squad.
Isco is now 26 and hitting his peak and needs to play week in and week out to show the world what a special player he really is. Manchester City and Chelsea seem to be interested in providing this little genius with an escape route from the bench in Madrid. Guardiola has really transformed Sterling into a special player and with Silva ageing, Isco could be the ideal replacement.
He would fit in at Chelsea too. A large Spanish contingent and Morata and Kovacic at the club could help convince the player to move to London.
If game time doesn't come soon, Isco should look to leave the Bernabeu and establish himself somewhere else where his abilities are more appreciated.
#2 Mesut Ozil
The Turkish-born German has had a roller-coaster of a career at Arsenal. From lighting up the Premier League with defence-splitting passes to now being more a bit part player. The highest ever paid player in Arsenal's history is at a crossroads in his career.
Unai Emery has instilled a better work ethic and demands a lot more from his players off the ball and isn't afraid of dropping players who don't fit his system. Ozil has often been called a luxury player who performs only when he feels like it and often goes missing in big games.
Emery has favoured either playing a 3-4-3, which is not a formation that Ozil is comfortable in, or a 4-2-3-1 with Ramsey playing in the position that Ozil otherwise would play. Given the recent performances, Arsenal seems to have moved forward and Ozil has been left in the Wenger era. A high pressing, exciting brand of football is the mainstay at the Emirates now and Ozil just seems like a square peg in a round and it just doesn't seem right.
The Arsenal board to seem to have become more ruthless in their business, not buckling under pressure and being held hostage by Ramsey as Ozil did. It seems time that the club could cut their losses as they're currently paying Ozil close to £350k per week to sit at home.
There will definitely be a lot of takers for the German maestro who turned 30 not too long ago still has a few years of top-level football left in him. The likes of Manchester United, Fenerbache and Vissel Kobe among a host of clubs are looking for the German's signature. The time may be right to say his goodbyes to Gunners as his time at the Emirates seems to be winding down.
#3 Alvaro Morata
Morata's switch to Chelsea hasn't really gone to plan, to say the least. The Spaniard looks short on confidence and a shadow of his former self. The clinical poacher's instincts that made him a fan favourite super-sub at Madrid and lethal striker at Juventus seems to be lost under pressure at Stamford Bridge.
Morata made a bright start to life in London scoring nine in sixteen before a back injury against Manchester City derailed his career. Following his return, he looked like a completely different player. He started missing chances that he'd bury over and over again and lost his spot to Giroud too for a while last season.
Sarri's arrival breathed new life into Morata's career at Chelsea as Giroud was just too slow for his fluid, fast-paced 'Sarri-ball' but Morata just isn't the same. Chelsea has struggled whenever he's been in the lineup because of the lack of goals, putting a lot more pressure on the likes of Hazard, Willian and Pedro to put the ball in the back of the net.
A move would be better for everyone involved. Morata is still young and needs time to develop and get his mojo back and a less stressful club and then look to make the step up again. Morata has always performed well with a strike partner or someone to share the goal scoring load with. Back at Madrid, it was with Ronaldo and Benzema, at Juventus it was with Tevez and Mandzukic.
A move to a club with lesser pressure might just do the trick for the former Madrid man as he looks to establish himself as the elite striker he was earmarked to be.