On the eve of what will be his 50th England appearance, full-back Glen Johnson has been discussing his contract situation at Liverpool.
The 29-year-old's deal expires next summer, in 2015, and talks over an extension are yet to begin, according to the player himself in an interview with The Daily Mail.
"No-one has come to me from Liverpool at all," explains Johnson. "I don't know the situation the club are in or if they want to renew it. So I've not got a decision to make other than to see my contract out because no-one is telling me any different."
He says that his situation is "an unnecessary distraction," but does he deserve a new deal and should Liverpool be offering him one?
Value For Money
Liverpool and owners Fenway Sports Group are very keen on getting value for money, as are all good businessmen.
When John W. Henry discussed Luis Suarez's infamous release clause recently, he did so with mention of the Fernando Torres deal to Chelsea. FSG made mistakes in their first 18 months as owners of Liverpool.
"I don’t think we were really prepared for buying a team in the English Premier League," admitted Henry, as per Dave Phillips. "We’ve learnt a lot of things that I never thought I would have to learn about."
What Henry and FSG have done though is rectify and learn from their mistakes. They removed director of football Damien Comolli, installed a "transfer committee" and set about ensuring players were on contracts that reflected their worth within the team.
Out went players on high wages that were not in line with their place within the squad: Stewart Downing, Joe Cole, Andy Carroll, Pepe Reina.
Henry wrote in an open letter in 2012 that:
We will build and grow from within, buy prudently and cleverly and never again waste resources on inflated transfer fees and unrealistic wages. We have no fear of spending and competing with the very best but we will not overpay for players.
Since then, Liverpool have stuck to their word, signing players who represent their worth to the football club and only offering contracts to those deserving of them too.
Therefore, you have to ask yourself, is Glen Johnson worth what The Liverpool Echo claim is a weekly wage "in excess of £110,000 per week."
The Daily Mirror claim that wage is actually £139,000-a-week—either way, we're talking about one of—if not the—best paid full-backs in world football and wages higher than most of the Liverpool squad.
Quite clearly, Johnson would have to take a pay cut to remain at Liverpool, and indeed any football club for that matter.
Add in the fact he will be almost 31 years old by the time his deal does indeed expire and you would expect that pay cut would need to be quite substantial.
Even excluding his exorbitant wages, does Johnson warrant a new deal based on form?
Viewed as an attacking full-back, one assist and no goals in 19 Premier League appearances this season is hardly the best return.
Defensively, his stats aren't impressive either, losing 55 percent of headed duels and unsuccessful in 39 percent of his tackles, according to Squawka.
Johnson's age and the requirements of the modern full-back, especially in the system which Brendan Rodgers employs at Liverpool is also a huge problem, with Johnson's position being one of the most physically demanding on the pitch.
"The modern full-back is required to sprint and attack far more than he did a decade ago," writes Sean Ingle in The Guardian when discussing Ashley Cole's lack of first-team football at Chelsea this season.
Is a player in his 30s going to be able to perform the role of the modern full-back in a top-four team? Not as desired.
Of course, Johnson does bring much-needed experience to the youthful Liverpool squad and, should a new deal be agreed, he would be an excellent player to have around the squad.
It's unlikely though that Liverpool would waste resources just to keep Johnson around as a squad player; they'd be much better off signing a younger replacement who can provide a solution to the role for years to come.
Allowing Johnson to leave, removing his wages, getting money for the player before he leaves on a free and signing a long-term solution makes far more sense than throwing money at a player who is past their best and one of the highest paid players at the club.
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