Do players relax once they have secured lucrative deals – and do they up their game when a new contract is on the line?

By John Nassoori for The Set Pieces

Arsenal or Tottenham fans may not welcome the comparison but, in Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Dele Alli, both north London clubs have players whose contracts have received more attention than their on-field performances. Is there any basis to the charge that long-term deals lead to a loss in motivation, though?

To some extent, the assumption that a player’s contribution wanes as soon as the ink dries on a new agreement is rooted in the idea that performances peak before a contract extension. Aubameyang is a case in point: criticism over the three-year deal he signed in September 2020 is partly due to his failure to maintain the phenomenally high standards he set during the 2019-20 campaign, when he scored 29 goals in 44 games, including match-winning contributions in both the FA Cup semi-final and final.

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