Simon Mignolet’s new contract is still causing indigestion on social-media. The worry is not only that Liverpool want to keep him, which is hard enough to swallow, but that they want to keep for a long time; his contract now expires in 2021.
The thing is, though, Liverpool have actually made the smart move. They’ve protected a prime-age asset who has sell-on value and insured themselves against likely future losses. It’s likely that in signing him up, Liverpool actually plan to sell.
Mignolet’s deal had two years left to run, i.e. it was about to enter the vulnerable countdown stage. Liverpool therefore re-upped, pegging at the relatively low cost of a few extra dozen thousand per week. Now Mignolet’s contract is firmly back into the safe zone, so Liverpool no longer vulnerable in the two aspects of selling him:
1. Selling the player. Should Liverpool want to sell Mignolet, they now hold all the cards. As his contract is no longer running down, his selling price won’t start decreasing, and of course, he won’t leave on a free.
This contract has then just earned them at least the 11 million they paid Sunderland for him. There’ll be plenty of interested buyers, too, and more than enough sport pages airing the over-lunch bullet-points of LFC’s marketing and writing all the very good (and very true) stuff about Mignolet: more clean sheets than anyone in 2015 … entering his peak-performance years … the fact that he kept himself together under such heavy scrutiny shows how confident he is, and confident goalies are the most priceless of all.
Cue 18 million pound transfer to Leicester on the transfer roundabout. (Where’d Schmeichel go? I don’t know, Google it.)
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) January 26, 2016
2. Buying another keeper. Mignolet isn’t a bad keeper, but he is perhaps as ill-fated: a good keeper with a bandwagon-effect hex-sign hanging over him now that most fans expect him to do something calamitous. It takes nerves and patience for his club not to be affected by that.
A-list clubs have multiple priorities (like staying in that class bracket), each of which eclipse being patient with Mignolet’s accountability. They also eclipse being patient, hoping the Mignolet-is-crap hype dies down (the spotlights A-listers play in just excites the hype further). The goalkeeper position is the most vulnerable on the pitch, mistakes exploited fatally, and Liverpool will be looking to get another one.