It’s happening again, a promising youngster on the cusp of breaking through has less than a year left on his contract. The manager declares that it would be in his best interests to stay but a contract is turned down and the player inevitably departs for peanuts. Poyet, Grant & Aribo – why does this seem to happen so often? Are Charlton simply bad at retention or is the answer beyond the club?
The fact is, contracts for players under the age of 18 are heavily regulated by FIFA. A player can only sign a pro-contract once they have turned 17 and even then it has a maximum length of just over 2 years. Therefore, when Aaron Henry signed his deal, it was the longest that Charlton could legally offer at the time. This rule means that all clubs are in a weak position when it comes to retaining young talent.
Proof that this isn’t just Charlton can be seen further up the pyramid. Man City for example had their fingers burnt by Jadon Sancho, who departed the Citizens to join Borussia Dortmund back in 2017 in search of first team football. He had already turned down a new contract at City which forced them into selling him with a year left.
If even Man City can lose out, what hope is there for Charlton? The unfortunate answer is that if a talented player wants to leave they eventually will, especially with the club in the third tier.
However, Charlton can take advantage in two ways. One, by recruiting the talent in the first place by displaying the clear pathway to the first team for those that work hard. And two, through release clauses that show the club won’t stand in an ambitious player’s way, as was the case with Joe Gomez.
When negotiating with Aaron Henry the club can point to the likes of Konsa and Aribo as proof that staying at Charlton for a few seasons will help their development without hindering any future move.