Benoît Badiashile has signed for Chelsea, and the name of Alan Pardew has resurfaced on social networks. At first glance, there is not much that connects the current coach of Aris Salonika to the now ex-defender of AS Monaco. Except for one detail. The Briton made headlines by signing an exceptional eight-year lease with Newcastle in 2012, before leaving the Magpies two years later. The French international is also out of the ordinary by signing up with the Blues. Not so much for the €38m transfer fee. Especially for the seven and a half year contract on which he affixed his signature.
The duration has not gone unnoticed. It caused the surprise, the incomprehension, even the anger of certain supporters scalded by the sometimes unfortunate experiences of this type of contract. The case of Saul Niguez, like that of Alan Pardew, came up in conversation. In 2017, the man who was then one of the great hopes of Spanish football and the flagship of the Atlético de Madrid training center had signed for… nine years with the Colchoneros. Today, after an inconclusive loan to… Chelsea, he is far from being an indisputable holder of the Madrid team. And he still has three and a half years left on his contract.
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Would Todd Boehly have paid for his ignorance of European football by granting such a long lease to Badiashile? Not necessarily. The American, owner of Chelsea since last May, has above all confirmed his desire to “Americanize” the contract system with the Blues. A bit like in the NFL, where commitments over a comparable period are much more frequent. The goal is to secure the future of promising young players within his stable until the peak of their career. The case of Marc Cucurella (24), recruited from Brighton last summer with a six-year contract, already entered into this logic.
“The image of the American model”
Younger than the Spaniard, Badiashile (21) has thus signed a longer lease, supposed to guarantee his presence with the Blues until June 2030. The French will then be 29 years old and Chelsea imagine the ideal scenario, that of having had at the height of his career. This new policy on contracts, the London club also applies to young people in its own workforce, like Reece James (23), extended last September until June 2028. According to The Daily Mail, Boehly has employ this strategy with all players under the age of 25.
It is not without risk, as the past has shown, but it also has its virtues. “For the players, it’s rather positiveexplained Dan Plumley, a British financial expert, on the Inside Football site last August. Young people have a longer period to show their worth. The counter-argument is that they can also indulge in a form of comfort. These NFL-type contracts show that Boehly has an American sports culture. We are starting to see a lot of things at Chelsea that reflect the image of the American model. It is one.”
Boehly’s challenge is all the greater. The Premier League and the NFL are two different worlds, and this model of American sport is not necessarily transposable to football. “The process is to invest in talent for the long termsummarized Dan Plumley. The other side of the coin is that in football, it’s immediate. It all depends on the result of the next match. The question is how to reconcile short-term performance with a long-term vision.” And, also, to know if Badiashile will really have seven and a half years to answer it.
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