Aston Villa: Are shorter contracts a better option?

GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14: Ross McCormack of City during the round 16 A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City at Central Coast Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images)
GOSFORD, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 14: Ross McCormack of City during the round 16 A-League match between the Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne City at Central Coast Stadium on January 14, 2018 in Gosford, Australia. (Photo by Tony Feder/Getty Images) /
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Aston Villa have been flat-out terrible at distributing long-term contracts before and after relegation.

Rumours are afoot that Aston Villa are weighing-up whether to release two underused and over-compensated players, Micah Richards and Ross McCormack from their contracts early.

Richards hasn’t played for Villa in nearly two years and pockets approximately £35,000 per week. His contract that he signed in 2015 runs until summer 2019. Aside from the relegation season of 15/16, Richards has mostly been on the treatment table. This represents a huge drain on finances (lessened somewhat since investment), for an outlay that produces zero on-field value. He suffered with injuries before he joined Villa, and in hindsight, it seems rather naïve of the previous regime to think he could anchor a Premier League defense.

Ross McCormack’s 4-year deal, signed in 2016 under chairman Tony Xia, sees him earn 2.3 million a year. His deal still has 2 years to run and his situation stems from a falling out with manager Steve Bruce. He hasn’t appeared in a league game for the club since January 2017 and has been sent on loan twice since. It appears his Villa future is nonexistent with Bruce in charge, but the club are still paying him handsomely for doing nothing.

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There are more examples of recent signings like Aaron Tshibola (contract expires in 2020), Henri Lansbury (2021), James Bree (2021), and Scott Hogan (2021) who are struggling to get a look in that still have multiple years left at Villa.

As is the case with Richards and McCormack, Villa find it difficult searching for suitors for these out-of-favour players. The question must be asked: why is the club offering such long contracts to these players?

It is hard to say what will happen in the future, but surely it makes more financial sense to offer shorter term contracts for anyone but star players. Loans have their disadvantages, but it is the least risky option for the buying club, an almost free looksie into the player’s habits on and off the pitch. They return to their parent club regardless of level of performance, so the buying club is not saddled with a player no party wants.

The risk is transferred back to the parent club.