What to do when mega-contracts go wrong?
There is the old adage “get married in a hurry, repent at your leisure”. The same could apply when it comes to signing lucrative long-term contracts with certain players.
Last week, at great expense, Manchester United finally solved the Alexis Sanchez problem. Sanchez received a free transfer and a £ 9million payment to help grease a permanent move to Inter Milan. He moved to Inter on loan in the summer of 2019.
Sanchez’s contract with Manchester United was due to expire in June 2022 and the team had to pay at least £ 40million in wages if Sanchez returned to Old Trafford.
A possible £ 50million exposure was cited in several articles, but that number depended on Sanchez triggering bonus clauses. Let’s face it, if Sanchez had performed as well as he did with Arsenal, Manchester United would have been more than happy to pay the bonuses!
The reality was that Sanchez was a pale shadow during his time at Old Trafford and with just 5 goals in 30 appearances for Inter, there are legitimate doubts that he will ever regain his Arsenal form.
In January 2018, Manchester United fans were giddy at the prospect of adding the Chilean star to the United squad. After scoring 80 goals in 166 games for Arsenal and 47 in 141 games for Barcelona, Sanchez was going to be the spark that would ignite, which at the time was a lackluster United attack.
Things only improved when it became clear that rivals Manchester City were going to be outbid by United and that Sanchez was going to be traded for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, a player who had blown more cold than hot during his 18 months. at Old Trafford.
Manchester United made Sanchez the highest paid player in the Premier League, but Sanchez has never failed to deliver a return on his investment. How many voices have been raised to question Sanchez’s salary? At the time, very little.
As Manchester United emerges from a bad deal, other teams are still stuck with leadweight players and contracts.
Real Madrid is an example. After winning the Champions League, Real Madrid and Gareth Bale signed a contract extension in October 2016 which was to last until June 2022.
Three years earlier, Real had set a new world record of € 100million by signing Bale from Tottenham. The contract extension raised Bale’s salary to $ 21 million, with possible bonuses adding an additional $ 10 million to the package.
Fast forward two years and no Real Madrid fan questioned the weekly cost when Bale came off the bench to score twice against Liverpool to give his side another Champions League title.
However, Zinedine Zidane’s return to Real Madrid in March 2019 proved to be a turning point in relations between the club, the player and the manager. It became very clear that Zidane wanted Bale out and the club wanted his salary off the books.
Last summer it looked like things would work out for the club and the manager with a transfer from Bale to Chinese club Jiangsu Suning. approaching completion. But Real Madrid insisted on Jiangsu Suning pay a transfer fee and the move turned to dust.
Zidane was forced to eat crow when early in the 2019/20 season injuries forced him to recall Bale. However, this was largely temporary, and Bale only made 20 appearances and scored 3 goals last season.
With two more years on his contract, Bale shows no indication of pushing for a change of scenery and Real Madrid face an additional $ 42million expense with little return in return.
It seems a lot of people have forgotten about it, but Arsenal’s decision in early 2018 to
extend that of Mesut Özil to June 2021 was extremely popular with fans and the media – at the time. After being foiled by Alexis Sanchez, Arsenal faced the real prospect of losing their two most influential players in a matter of months.
Ozil’s resignation has become imperative and Arsenal have made the Germany international their highest paid player with over £ 300,000 a week. However, instead of zil continuing to push, his form has plummeted off a cliff and over the past two seasons he’s shown rare flashes of his talent. The chief assistant has only managed 4 in the past two seasons.
Although it seemed at one point that he was going to have another chance under Mikel Arteta, it turned out to be a false dawn. The only question is will uzil spend the 2020/21 season at Arsenal to complete their contract, or are Arsenal crafting a Manchester United / Sanchez deal that is too good for Özil to pass up?