Should age matter when evaluating a player's contract extension?

Mikel Arteta criticizes wisdom of tying Arsenal contracts to players’ age


Arsenal have a general policy of offering one-year deals to players aged 30 and over. Some might think it prudent: after a certain age, players’ form tends to decline. They often become more susceptible to injuries. It may even be argued that their ability to adapt to changing tactics decreases.

Mikel Arteta takes exception to his team’s policy.

The 32-year-old, whose contract expires in 2015, is set to sit down to negotiations this summer. But the most he can expect is a one-year extension on his deal, keeping him at Arsenal until he’s 34.

Arteta, perhaps understandably, doesn’t like this blanket rule. The midfielder said, “Age can be an asset for the club. For me, a much bigger asset is someone who has played 125 games in three years compared to someone who has played 25, if he is 20 years old. That’s my opinion.”

The Spaniard, who arrived at Arsenal in 2011, has played 123 times for the club. He insists that his age shouldn’t matter, because he’ll be the first one to tell Arsène Wenger that it’s time for him to step down:  “The day I feel like I can’t perform, I will be the first one to say: ‘Listen, you have kids here, 20, 25, who are much better than me. It’s my time to move on.’ ”

Fans of Italian club AC Milan may be willing to back Arteta’s words. The club had a similar policy in place when it won the scudetto in 2011. That summer, Andrea Pirlo left for Juventus, where the 34-year-old continues to light up the pitch. The next summer, the core of the title-winning squad was out: Alessandro Nesta, Filippo Inzaghi, Mark van Bommel, Antonio Cassano, Zlatan Ibrahimović, Clarence Seedorf – all at or above 30 years old.

Milan finished third that season, but it was a difficult fight. This year, they’re in danger of finishing seventh, out of the European places completely. That’s not a path Arsenal want to walk…

Sunderland confirm resignation of manager Dick Advocaat

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 03:  Dick Advocaat manager of Sunderland looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and West Ham United at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Steve Welsh/Getty Images)
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With rumors swirling of his resignation, Sunderland have confirmed this morning that Dick Advocaat has left his post as Sunderland manager with zero financial compensation despite the protests of the chairman.

Advocaat came on in March as an emergency signing, successfully saving Sunderland from relegation with a solid run of form to finish the season. The 68-year-old Dutchman pondered at length this summer if he wished to continue on, with his wife reportedly urging him to step down, but he chose to continue on with the new season after successful persuasion from the front office.

Unfortunately, things have not gone as planned, with Sunderland sitting 19th in the table, only above Newcastle on goal differential and without a single win on the season. They’ve conceded a whopping 18 goals so far this season through eight league matches.

“I have made the decision to go after only eight games as I felt it was important to give everyone time turn things around – like we did last year,” Advocaat said upon his departure. “I am thankful to the chairman for understanding my feelings and I remain on good terms with everyone at the club.

“I wish Ellis [Short], Lee [Congerton], all of the staff, players and of course the supporters, who made me feel so welcome here, the very best of luck for the rest of the season. I have some wonderful memories to take with me and I hope I will return to see everybody again in the future.”

“I am truly saddened by Dick’s decision,” chairman Ellis Short said, “but I respect him for his honesty and for doing what he feels is right for the club. He is a man of integrity and a true football person. He was hugely respectful of the club in taking this decision and he acted 100% in our best interests. It is also testament to his character that he has forgone any kind of a financial settlement, something which is very unusual in football.”

Meanwhile, the Black Cats have dipped into what is becoming a perennial cycle, making a managerial change for the fourth time in the last four seasons.

Rumors are swirling that a host of experienced Premier League managers could be up for the job, including the currently unemployed Sam Allardyce and Harry Redknapp. Other linked names include former Leicester manager Nigel Pearson and current Burnley boss Sean Dyche.

Sepp Blatter’s daughter slams media for ruining her father’s reputation

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Sepp Blatter’s daughter blames the media, not her father, for Sepp’s downfall as the head of FIFA and believes he will not step down until the February congress as he initially announced.

“The media has ruined his reputation,” Corinne Blatter told Swiss newspaper Blick. “Why are they picking on him? What did he do to them? … It’s not just envy. It’s hatred.”

A host of major sponsors, including Coca-Cola, McDonalds and Visa called for Blatter’s immediate resignation as president of FIFA, to which the 79-year-old swiftly rejected. This all came after Blatter was called in by Swiss authorities for questioning after the opening of an investigation surrounding corporate mismanagement charges.

“I was afraid that they now take him away in handcuffs,” Corinne said. “He told me, ‘I must be dreaming.’ A federal policeman assured me that he could after hearing home.”

Blick pressed Corinne on many issues, all of which she defender her father. She refused to comment on many that had to do with the investigation, but did give us this gem when asked how Sepp likes to spend his money.

“He buys shoes and travel bags. He has worked 40 years. His life is modest, without any extravagance. He doesn’t play golf or go sailing.”

Shoes and handbags. What an image.