Aubameyang, Ozil, Sanchez: 9 of the worst contract decisions in football history

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is no longer an Arsenal player

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s four-year spell at Arsenal has ended with a whimper.

On Deadline Day, the Gunners terminated the Gabon international’s contract, allowing him to join Barcelona on a free transfer.

The move means Arsenal have got rid of Aubameyang’s enormous £350,000-a-week salary from the wage bill, which is a huge plus for them.

Aubameyang signed a new contract in north London back in September 2020 and he’s only scored 21 goals since, meaning he cost the club £1.2 million for each goal, per The Mirror.

Ridiculous, right? While the 32-year-old provided many magical moments at Arsenal, the decision to hand him one of the biggest deals in history will go down as a very bad one indeed.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to revisit eight other contract disasters in football down the years and two of Aubameyang’s former teammates at the Emirates Stadium feature…

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

Manchester United‘s decision to reward Solskjaer with a new blockbuster three-year deal worth £25 million just before the 2021/22 season wasn’t exactly the greatest.

Just a few months into this season, the Norwegian manager was sacked following a disastrous run of results, including a 5-0 home defeat to Liverpool and a demoralising 4-1 loss away at Watford – which proved to be his last game in charge.

Danny Drinkwater

To this very day, we still cannot work out why Chelsea signed Drinkwater from Leicester City. Sure, he’s not a bad footballer, but is he one worth £35 million and around £120,000-a-week in wages? Absolutely not.

Since joining the Blues in September 2017, the midfielder has played just 23 games for the club and has been loaned out to Burnley, Aston Villa, Kasımpaşa and Reading. To say he’s been a dreadful big-money acquisition would be an understatement…

Drinkwater with Chelsea

Mesut Ozil

A situation that was incredibly similar to Aubameyang’s. Arsenal were desperate for Ozil to stay, so they persuaded him to do so with a tasty £350,000-a-week deal.

The outcome? Well, the German playmaker’s good form prior to putting pen to paper completely deserted him, which then saw his contract terminated six months early to allow him to join Fenerbahce for free. Arsenal don’t learn, do they?


Yep, Arsenal again. The same summer Aubameyang signed his new deal, the Gunners decided to sign Willian on a free transfer from Chelsea, offering him a wage in the region of £200,000-a-week.

And despite earning big bucks, the Brazilian played like a League One footballer for much of his time in north London, scoring only one goal in 37 appearances. After just a year at Arsenal, Willian left by mutual consent and returned to his homeland with Corinthians.

Willian with Arsenal

Phil Jones

To be fair to Jones, he played pretty well when he made his first United appearance in around two years against Wolves recently. However, there’s still no getting away from the fact that the call to extend his contract in February 2019 was a horrendously bad one.

The Englishman is pocketing around £75,000-a-week, but his last outing for the Red Devils’ first-team before the Wolves game came against Tranmere in the FA Cup way back in January 2019, just prior to the signing of his new deal. Ouch.

Sol Campbell

Remember when Notts County were taken over by a Middle Eastern consortium in 2009 and were targeting domination of English football? Good times. Campbell was signed by the League Two outfit on a huge £40,000-a-week four-year deal, a wage far higher than anyone else in the division.

The Arsenal legend went on to play just one game for the club, turning in an awful performance against Morecambe. He left a few days after that shocking debut due to becoming annoyed that he was the only big name signed. What a story.

Campbell with Notts County

Alexis Sanchez

United again and their choice to sign Sanchez from Arsenal in January 2018 on a contract worth around £560,000-a-week was ill-fated at best. The Chilean was a pale shadow of his former self at Old Trafford, scoring just five goals in 45 matches.

The only saving grace for United was the fact that Sanchez opted to waive the final two years of his mammoth contract in order to join Inter Milan on a permanent basis in 2020.

Alan Pardew

We still have a little giggle every now and then when we remember than Mike Ashley gave Pardew an eight-year (yes, EIGHT-YEAR) contract at Newcastle in September 2012.

That’s not because Pardew is a bad manager, far from it. It’s due to the fact that the length of the deal is madness in the extreme. Manchester City wouldn’t even dare offer Pep Guardiola an eight-year deal.

And as luck would have it, Pardew lasted just over two of his eight scheduled years at Newcastle before deciding to join Crystal Palace…

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