The Premier League’s inching its way back, with a five-week plan now in motion to get us playing matches again. But Project Restart is only part of the solution.
Even if games resume on June 19th, as currently planned, finishing out the rest of the 2019-20 season, 9-10 games for each will take at least 4-5 weeks, which will take us past the usual end of the fiscal year on June 30. And while both FIFA and the Premier League have put in mechanisms to help deal with that extraordinary situation, the players themselves have a say as well of course.
In Chelsea’s case, the four affected players are Willian, Olivier Giroud, Pedro, and backup goalkeeper Willy Caballero. Chelsea have until June 23 to get them to agree to temporary extensions (if not something even longer, like a proper contract extension).
Frank Lampard’s certainly hoping that those signatures can be secured. (And thus implicitly rubbishes those head-scratching Giroud club-option rumors at the same time as well.)
“We have big players [out of contract] so that’s something I’m obviously looking at very carefully. The ones who are out of contract here have been great servants for the club, and actually have a lot of feeling for the club.
“Of course they’ll be concerned about themselves, in terms of how training is now is and if the pre-season is a rush they’re going to have to make sure they’re alright. So it’s going to have to be something we have to look at, hopefully we can make that arrangement can be made so they can stay with us.
“I would love the squad to look as it has all season, but we’ll have to see how that works.”
-Frank Lampard; source: Sky
While Willian has already said that he would be willing to play out the season with Chelsea, such proclamations, however bold, are often revised in the cold light of day — not to mention the cold light of the pandemic, which has prompted Willian to repeatedly share his concerns about returning to play. Doing so for a team that he’d be leaving anyway could easily give even greater weight to those concerns, for example.
But that part is speculation for now. We have a little over a month to sort out the (temporary) contracts for the veterans who were effectively carrying the team just before the season was interrupted.