Manchester United legend Gary Neville has expressed his scepticism at Chelsea’s policy of awarding long contracts to new signings – saying the club’s owners could either be ‘the smartest people in the room or pretty stupid.’
“There’s no such thing as certainty in an eight-year contract,” Neville told Sky Sports.
“Let’s say Mykhailo becomes a Lionel Messi in four years and Chelsea would sit here today and say ‘we’ve got him locked down for another four years on a lower wage’.
“I don’t care whether he’s got four years left on his contract or not, Mudryk will kick off, his agent will kick off, he’ll down tools and say ‘I want more money’.
“You’ll end up paying the Messi wage or you’ll have a very unhappy player for the last four years who’ll feel he’s been exploited because he signed an eight-year contract at the age of 22.
“In football, in this country, with players coming particularly from international soil, I do not see how an eight-year contract can be honoured if the player progresses into something far greater than he is today.”
Neville added: “Will every manager who comes in during those eight years want the player? Will the player want to go home at some point?
“It just feels to me like, in football as we see it in this country, not the NFL in America, I don’t see the benefit of an eight-year deal.
“If you sign a five-year deal and a player does brilliantly after three years, you’ve still got two years. Eight? I just don’t understand it.
“I don’t see how it brings any benefit to the club apart from the FFP and the accounting mechanism, the accounting benefit.
“For me, I’m struggling with it, that the wheel can be reinvented and they’ve found something really clever here that someone else hasn’t spotted.
“They could look like the smartest people in the room in two years, or they could look pretty stupid. I don’t know which it will be but it will be one or the other, it won’t be in the middle.
“It will be either: What the hell was that? Or they’ve changed the model in English football and well done to them. We will have to see how this plays out.”