How much does a contract in football mean these days? Particularly at the top of the game.
Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho has just put pen to paper on a new five year deal, which comes into effect on July 1st 2017.
It will make him the Reds’ highest paid player (reportedly on up to £200,000 per week) and is perhaps the result of speculation that he is attracting interest from Barcelona.
The key thing for the Anfield club is that his new contract does not contain a buy out clause, whereby if a rival was to pay a certain fee, the bid would automatically be accepted.
That of course should give Liverpool the power. They have the player tied down until 2022 and pay him a huge amount of money to do so.
But we have seen it plenty of times before; the star man signs a new deal, therefore committing his future to the side, and then only five minutes later he is off to another club.
Indeed, comparisons have already been drawn between Coutinho and Luis Suarez.
Role back in time just three years, and after months of reports that the Uruguayan was close to the Anfield exit, he penned a long term deal, stating “I believe I can achieve the ambitions of winning trophies and playing at the very highest level with Liverpool.”
Fast forward six months, and all those dreams and promises seemed a distant memory as he departed Anfield for a whopping £65m, joining, you guessed it, Barcelona.
Suarez wanted to leave. He had his head turned by the promise of winning La Liga titles and playing alongside the likes of Lionel Messi. Understandable!
Coutinho may well do exactly the same, if he wishes. Should a Barcelona or Real Madrid come calling, he could easily force through a move.
The only difference is that Liverpool now have him tied down for five years, so the fee they could command is much higher.
The same thing is happening all over the footballing world. Dmitri Payet is desperate to leave West Ham, with Marseille keen to take him back to France, whilst Jose Fonte has just moved to the Olympic Stadium after handing in a transfer request at Southampton.
We have even seen something not too dissimilar at Prenton Park.
Ryan Lowe still have a year left to run on his contract in 2014, yet after scoring 19 goals in his debut season with Tranmere, he felt he was worthy of an extension.
Whether he was right or wrong to think that, the club said no and as such he pushed through a move to Bury.
The striker was doing what was best for him, the same as what 99% of footballers will do. The difference, though, is that he was not on tens of thousands of pounds a week! He just wanted to eke out an extra few months in his career.
In this day and age, footballers hold all the cards. They often have the long term contract with huge financial security an the power to move on when they want.
They can, to a certain degree, hold their club to ransom. And for that reason, I would be very surprised if Coutinho is still at Liverpool come 2019, let alone 2022.