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Contract planning

A study published during the 2017/18 season by CIES Football Observatory on contract policy regarding…

Contract planning
Contract planning
Jun 28, 201810:09

A study published during the 2017/18 season by CIES Football Observatory on contract policy regarding the time remaining on each one has revealed that Athletic Club is in eighth place in La Liga (27th among Europe’s five major leagues), with an average time of 2.59 years left on each contract in the first-team squad. The list is headed by FC Barcelona (3.23 years) and Real Madrid (3.19). Likewise, Atlético de Madrid (3.00), Real Sociedad (2.82), Real Betis (2.60), and Valencia CF (2.60) are above Athletic, as are other European clubs such as Manchester City (2.89), Liverpool (2.85), Dortmund (2.71), Lyon (2.68) and Milan (2.63), while Villarreal CF (2.59) is on a par with the red-and-whites. Giants such as Chelsea (2.57) and Bayern (2.54) are very close behind in the table. By leagues, and besides the aforementioned FC Barcelona, the top teams are Tottenham (3.18) in England, LOSC Lille (3.18) in France, RB Leipzig (2.96) in Germany, and AS Roma (2.95) in Italy.

This means the average time remaining on the contracts of Athletic’s squad members is in an intermediate position, and initially there are no major conclusions to be drawn from this regarding our club, and especially not any that raise any alarm over a financial future mortgaged by the length of contracts. They have a normal duration. Nevertheless, one might hazard the opposite theory, wondering whether Athletic Club should not in fact be higher up this list with longer contracts considering its unique sporting philosophy and its need to ringfence its players and ensure their continuity within a scenario of such a tiny catchment area compared to that of its competitors. It is within this context in which common sense and a proper perspective should constitute a key part of planning. The fact is that if we look closely at the regular first-team line-up, that is, the eleven players with the most minutes played in each team, Athletic Club climbs a long way up the table, standing in fourth place in La Liga and fifth in Europe (joint equal with Liverpool and Milan). In other words, the attempt to ringfence its players and ensure the Club’s medium and long-term future is reflected in the time remaining on the contracts of those players with the greatest weight and presence in the line-ups. Athletic increases from 2.59 years for the overall squad to an average of 3.32 among regular first-team players, a difference of 0.73 points, the third biggest on a list headed by Atlético Madrid (from 3.00 to 3.95).

In light of this scenario, of special significance and importance are the long-term contract extensions involving those players that despite their youth have an important role to play in the team and who are initially expected to provide its backbone over the medium term. It is no coincidence that Kepa Arrizabalaga, Williams, Córdoba, Iñigo Martínez, Núñez and Yeray are the players with the longest contracts and highest release clauses.

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