POLL: Is a one-year contract enough?
Playing potential and fitness levels decrease as years pass by in a life any sportsperson. In Football though, 30 is supposed to be the benchmark for the start of decline in a players ability to play to his full potential. Movement becomes a bit slower, and frequency of matches also suffers as a result of lack of fitness. There are a few exceptions like Maldini, Seedorf, Giggs, Drogba etc. But this has been, or presently is, the general perception in the footballing world. Even the financial side of the game takes a hit as the player value does no good in terms of offering profits to a club in case of a sale.
Italians have long been showing their endurance skills. Most of the players who play in Serie A are able to play until their late 30s. This is mostly due to the style of play of the Italian league. It focuses more on the defensive side, negating the need for running long distances and playing at a high tempo. The English game on the other hand is just the opposite. The tempo of the game is very high and this demands a lot from the senior players. As always, most of them have that desire to play for long till their body gives up. This desire has been the reason for players migrating to the US to prolong their careers while playing to their potential at that age.
So, is it right for the clubs to let their senior players leave once they have reached an age of say, 32? Obviously, we are talking about Chelsea. The present situation is that Frank Lampard and Ashley Cole will have their contracts with the club run out at the end of this season. The club is willing to offer a one-year contract with a slight pay cut. A one-year contract comes with its own insecurities, as it promises almost nothing in terms of playing time or future at the club. You are on the market after a turn of only six months and noises about another new contract are sounded. The players also argue with the same reason, as they want to serve their club as long as they can while their future is secure, atleast for a couple of years.
Manchester United provides a perfect example in this scenario. Alex Ferguson needs to be hugely praised for his ability to handle the senior players and convincing them to stay at the club. Giggs and Scholes are United legends and they have been kept in the squad along with the younger players. The rotation policy of Ferguson is keeping his legends fit and he is using them when it is most needed. But you cannot question the desire of the players, as they are used scarcely during the course of the season. Such players offer much more on the other side of the mirror. Their mere presence in the squad serves as a motivation to the youth players and their invaluable input helps in the development of future talent.
So, coming back to Chelsea, Lampard is unarguably the best midfielder in the Premier League and Ashley Cole, one of the best left backs in the world. Losing them on a free transfer when they can be helpful in providing the means for a smooth transition for the next generation to settle in is questionable. The players too have to accept their minutes on the pitch will be diminished, as priorities of the club come first. Also there’s nothing for the club to lose if they offer a two-year contract and also maybe include a clause for the player to become a part of the coaching staff once he retires. Paul Scholes was given such opportunity before he made a comeback as he was needed in the first team. It is a win-win situation for everyone. The player feels happy, the club will have to pay the salary for one more year, but they will also have the option of cashing in on a sale, if the player wishes to play elsewhere.