Sheffield Wednesday keep missing a trick – and they can’t make a Bailey Cadamarteri mistake

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When Bailey Cadamarteri woke up on Sunday morning and checked his phone he should’ve had a message from Sheffield Wednesday.

But that’s not the way that Wednesday do things. Forward planning when it comes to player contracts isn’t something that they’re big on – which is why we’ve seen so many players (young and more experienced) leave for next to nothing in recent years.

To their credit, there has been a shift in the last couple of seasons with regards to the length of contract handed to promising young players like Cadamarteri, Pierce Charles and others – no longer are they handed one-year deals with a hope of good will or loyalty seeing them through. Those two, for instance were handed three-year deals that will see them through to 2025.

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But it’s not enough to do it once. Wednesday should be protecting their assets, even if just for selfish reasons rather than as a reward, especially when it becomes obvious that they’ve got a real future ahead of them.

The Owls left it too late with Liam Shaw, they did the same with Osaze Urhoghide, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru showed talent but was left to reach the last year of his contract and is now being linked with the likes of Napoli after flourishing in Europe since leaving.

It’s all a risk, of course, but if you put together a smart contract then they can be mutually beneficial so that everyone is happy and the reward can outweigh that risk. Increasing wages based on appearances, sell-on clauses and other types of bonuses have all been used to great effect elsewhere.

Cadamarteri has been watched by a number of Premier League clubs, as well as England, Charles is a Northern Irish youth international who is also on the Three Lions’ radar. When the former came on to such good effect against Millwall he should’ve been awaiting some contact – ‘Cadz, how do we get you to stick around a bit longer?’

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The same with Charles, who has been a regular in the senior ranks at Middlewood Road and warms up with the first team goalkeepers before practically every game. Like Cadamarteri he’s highly-rated by many internally, so why wait until it’s too late to show that you’re committed to them. Otherwise, why should they be committed to you?

It’s as much respect as anything. And though this piece is about looking forward with regards to the youth, contracts are a general problem at Hillsborough anyway. Come January at least 12 of the Owls’ senior players could – in theory – sign a precontract outside of English borders, it’s not a sustainable way to run a football team.

Because of those contracts Wednesday’s youngsters are probably the most valuable members of the squad at present given how much compensation they could pick up should they be poached from elsewhere – it’s thought that they picked up about £1m for two academy products who left for Brentford not long back.

So protect them. Show them that they’re valued, that they have a future at Hillsborough – or at least stop other clubs from doing so on the cheap. We’ve seen it happen too often.

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