When Phil Jones was given a new four-year deal (with the option of a fifth) in 2019, many Manchester United fans were surprised. Since then, the surprise has turned to befuddlement.
Jones has not featured for United at all this season. He only managed eight appearances in the previous campaign.
The year before – when Jones earned that new deal – he went off at half-time in the 4-0 debacle against Everton and he has barely been seen since.
Jones is on big wages at Old Trafford and it is bizarre to think he could remain until 2023, earning week after week when a first-team spot is all but impossible.
All clubs make mistakes. But United appear to have done the same again, this time with Nemanja Matic.
The Serbian international signed a new contract until 2023 last year. But Matic’s form has tailed off alarmingly since then.
For a while under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, it seemed Matic was back to his best. Yet those times are a distant memory.
These days, Scott McTominay and Fred are both ahead of Matic. While some United fans feel James Garner deserves a shot when he returns from his impressive loan spell.
United may also sign a new holding player, leaving Matic to wonder where his next game will come from.
Yet offloading him could prove easier said than done. Just as United have found with Jones – and with Marcos Rojo before him – getting rid of high-earners on long-term contracts is tricky.
Matic, like Jones, could remain at United until 2023, collecting a hefty wage and preventing the Red Devils from spending that money elsewhere.
More recently, United have been smart with their new deals. A whole host of talented youngsters have agreed new contracts – on a lot less than the likes of Jones and Matic.
The 31-year-old is slowing down and needs to move on this summer. His influence is waning but will there be a taker?
Only time will tell. But this could be Jones all over again.