Contracts are formal and legally binding agreements, and in professional football player contracts are one of the most difficult aspects of running a club.
The Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta arrived at the club in December 2019 to replace fellow countrymen Unai Emery, who was sacked after a poor run of results. Since Mikel Arteta’s appointment, he has instilled a strict contract policy at the club alongside his playing style.
Before his arrival, Arsenal had situations where players ran down their contracts with the club whilst playing regularly before their departure on a free. Players like Alexis Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey come to mind.
Mikel Arteta implemented a strict policy whereby he doesn’t utilise players with a contract issue in important matches. It was basically a “Sign the contract or sit on the bench before being sold” policy.
Folarin Balogun was the first player to fall victim of this policy. The young striker had less than six months left on his contract and wanted to play for the club. Mikel Arteta refused to integrate him fully into the senior squad until he later signed a contract renewal.
This new policy from Mikel Arteta is working very well at the club and here are two reasons why:
1. Arsenal has a lesser amount of players with a short time left on their contracts. The players know that once it is time for renewal, they have to be decisive and choose whether to remain at the Emirates Stadium, or on the bench before another club makes a move for them.
2. The players performance do not drop off because of their contract status. Alexandre Lacazette is a prime example of this. The French striker has less than a year left on his contract and he has been used only once in the Premier League and twice in the Carabao Cup this season – in which he performed excellently.
Even though he isn’t playing regularly as he used to, he cannot allow his performances to drop because he knows he’ll be dropped totally if he doesn’t sign a contract extension and perform when called upon.