Contract negotiations through the media only creates losers

Jan Separator April 24, 2020

It could be so simple: Manuel Neuer, 34 years old, with FC Bayern since 2011, and based on his performance clearly a shoo-in for a contract extension.

But his contract negotiations are dragging on, there is no end in sight, and in the middle of the Covid-19-induced Bundesliga break, details come to light that no one is comfortable with and that should never have become a matter of public record.

Already in March, German football magazine “Kicker” reported on the player’s high term and salary demands:

While FC Bayern’s management is considering an extension until 2023, Neuer has a time until 2025 in mind […] Bayern’s management had actually assumed that they had made a top offer regarding the player’s salary. But Neuer and his advisor Thomas Kroth have allegedly demanded an annual salary of €20 million. Kicker.de, “Contract poker for Neuer: A compromise is nowhere in sight”

Other Miasanrot authors are in a better position to judge whether the reported demands are realistic or justified from a sporting point of view. The same is true for if and how the reported differences in understanding relating to the allegedly guaranteed playing time of Alexander Nübel will have a lasting impact on Manuel Neuer’s performance. There is no question, however, that the way in which Neuer’s contract negotiations have developed does not do justice to either the player or the club.

Unfortunately, however, the situation is not yet over, as the unchallenged perpetuation of the claim  “20 million Euro salary for 5 more years” in the media has increasingly reinforced Neuer’s image of a self-centered glutton for money in the media. An image that nobody wants.

No wonder Neuer does not like it. He and his agent therefore also gave an interview to German tabloid “Bild”. The “Süddeutsche Zeitung” sums up the statement, which we will not link to because of the medium, as follows:

For days it could be heard in confidence that Neuer and his agent Thomas Kroth have been annoyed about this (his description as a greedy person; editor’s note) – Neuer now vented his anger in full force in the “Bild”. And thus precisely in that newspaper in which most of the details he complained about were published first. Süddeutsche Zeitung, “Unrestrained anger”

The last sentence by Benedikt Warmbrunn perfectly encapsulates my viewpoint as well: Why give an interview to the exact paper where the details one finds umbrage with were originally aired? Why publish a differing viewpoint and shift the blame on the club exactly there? And why do such sensitive specific details of negotiations get out in the first place? Why does FC Bayern itself apparently not take care to keep these discussions internal with the necessary respect and the appropriate discretion such matters are due? Why are the sporting director and the first team captain seemingly so far apart on these issues?

FC Bayern allows the tabloid media to hijack the narrative of their contract negotiations and becomes unable to make important decisions like these in peace. No matter how the question of Manuel Neuer’s continued employment at Bayern beyond next summer will develop in the coming weeks, there will be a lingering shadow of him as the money-hungry player. 

In the current situation, nobody has managed to present themselves in a positive light. After all, what we are not talking about is Manuel Neuer’s sporting value, the future prospects of a leading player at FC Bayern, or long-term squad planning considerations at the club. Yet would those not be the topics that should really be on the agenda? Ideally behind closed doors?

Fortunately, the fronts not yet seem to be too entrenched. Manuel Neuer has signalled his interest to continue the talks about his contract extension with the club.

Let’s hope that the next time we read about these talks it is when their final outcome is announced. And not when there are accusations of each other’s failings again. Whatever the result may be. Because: If you lead contract negotiations over the media, everybody loses.

»Eier, wir brauchen Eier!«

— Oliver Kahn

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