7 worst contract decisions in football as Man Utd sack Solskjaer after new deal
Money makes the world go round in football, especially these days.
Remember when being on £50,000 a week was a lot of money for a Premier League star? Now youth players are graduating with contracts that size!
Negotiating contracts is far from simple, particularly given the recent rise of so-called 'super-agents', and a few clubs have handed some hilariously stupid deals out in recent years.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer being sacked just three months after signing a lucrative extension on his multi-million pound contract has left United red-faced, but they certainly aren't alone.
So here's seven of the worst contracts handed out in football recently.
Alan Pardew – Newcastle
Of all the backward decisions made during the Mike Ashley era at St James' Park, handing manager Alan Pardew an eight-year contract in 2012 is definitely one of the maddest.
Not because Pards wasn't doing well but because it was bizarre.
No one in football, not even Sir Alex Ferguson would warrant an eight-year-deal anywhere, and the move so was uncharacteristic of owner Ashley, who traditionally steered clear of planning for the future at Newcastle.
Pardew quit the club two years later and the world of football has been scratching its head ever since.
David de Gea – Man United
David de Gea took Manchester United to the cleaners after signing a £375,000 a week contract in 2019.
Sure, the Spaniard has at times over his United career been one of the best goalkeepers in the business, and the club were keen to tie him down after years of interest from Real Madrid.
But the manner in which de Gea's form dropped after signing one of the most lucrative contracts in the history of the sport is as tragic as it is hilarious.
Mistakes began creeping into his game on a regular basis and while the 31-year-old is by no means a problem for United, his form over the last two-and-a-half years hasn't come anywhere close to justifying his mammoth wage.
Alexis Sanchez – Man United
Sticking with United for the moment, Alexis Sanchez's move to Old Trafford in January 2018 has to go down as one of the worst transfers in Premier League history.
After sparkling for Arsenal for four years, the Chilean made the controversial decision to jump ship to United, signing an eye-watering £560,000 a week contract.
He scored just five goals in 45 underwhelming games for the club before being shipped out on loan to Inter Milan in 2019.
Luckily, he saved some of United's blushes by agreeing to waive the final two years of his deal to join Inter permanently in 2020.
Mesut Ozil – Arsenal
Sanchez’s former Arsenal teammate Mesut Ozil is another player whose name is up there in the hall of fame of dreadful contracts.
The north Londoners in January 2018 were desperate to avoid another situation where their best player joined a rival after running down their contract – see Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri.
And so the German, aged 29, became Arsenal’s highest-paid player ever after being gifted a £350,000-a-week deal, after which he shockingly became merely a peripheral figure at the club.
He was frozen out from the squads under both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta before eventually deciding to move to Fenerbahce in 2021, but not without Arsenal having to subsidise his £16.38million worth of wages for the first six-months of his career in Turkey.
Willian – Arsenal
Do you think Arsenal's three-year Willian deal was the worst contract in Premier League history? Let us know in the comments section.
Arsenal’s post-Wenger era has been littered with dubious contract offers and transfer decisions, with Willian Borges’ arrival at the Emirates in 2020 encapsulating both.
A 32-year-old Willian arrived from rivals Chelsea on a free transfer, leaving fans baffled at the club’s failure to learn from the largely unsuccessful signing of Petr Cech and David Luiz previously.
He was handed a whopping £240,000-a-week contract as he showed the Emirates crowd exactly what they had expected – a player who simply didn’t possess the legs nor hunger to be a part of Arteta’s rebuild.
The club eventually reached an agreement with the Brazilian to terminate his contract only one year into his deal in the summer, with the player limiting the damage by agreeing to tear up his contract rather than asking for a pay-off.
Danny Drinkwater – Chelsea
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Chelsea signed Danny Drinkwater in 2017 expecting him to make a similar kind of impact as former Leicester City teammate N’Golo Kante at Stamford Bridge.
Fast-forward four years and Drinkwater remains a Blue, though he hasn’t featured for the side since the 2018/19 season.
Various different managers coming in did not help the 31-year-old’s chances of leaving a mark at Chelsea, but his five-year deal worth £120,000-a-week will nonetheless go down as one of the club’s worst bits of business.
Drinkwater is currently spending the season on loan at Reading before his contract finally expires in June 2022.
Sol Campbell – Notts County
Arsenal legend Sol Campbell joined League Two side Notts County in 2009 with the expectation that they would become the Galacticos of English football after their takeover by a Middle Eastern consortium.
The 34-year-old signed a lucrative £40,000-per-week contract on a four year deal, which was significantly higher than any other player in the division.
Campbell insisted the move wasn’t about the money but after enduring a torrid debut against Morecambe, the match proved to be his first and last appearance for the club.
He left just a few days later having become disillusioned at being the only star to sign for the Magpies despite being promised other big names like Roberto Carlos and Benjani would follow.
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