Neymar’s move to PSG proved that transfer release clauses are not just mere fantasy figures. Yet that doesn’t stop some of the numbers involved being quite crazy.
Cristiano Ronaldo is worth, according to his contracts with Real Madrid, €1billion. Somewhat surprisingly, so is his team-mate Karim Benzema.
Yet while Barcelona would love to set Lionel Messi’s clause higher, even if he signs his new deal it is unlikely to go above €300m. That means there are nine players in La Liga who have higher-value release clauses than the world’s best player.
Barcelona were powerless to stop his layers forcing his transfer by buying out his contract
The Spanish league claims employment law forces clubs to give each player a buy-out clause. The clauses often work in the club’s favour – a ridiculously high clause basically tells the world: ‘He’s not for sale, forget it, don’t even try’. But a suspiciously low clause is a club’s way of saying: ‘Try your luck, we just might sell’.
Paris Saint-Germain knew that no matter how hard Barcelona resisted, if they deposited €222million with the Spanish League they could buy Neymar out of his contract and there was nothing anybody could do about it.
In contrast, when Barcelona went after Philippe Coutinho this summer there was no special number they knew if they hit they would get their man.
One of Spanish football’s biggest beefs with the Premier League is that there are no buy-out clauses that help them get players out of their contracts.
Yet many believe Barcelona set Neymar’s clause at a gettable €222m (£196m at today’s exchange rate) because while it would be a blow to lose such a talent they were not completely against the idea because of the financial dividend.
Players can also force clubs to set a buy-out clause lower than the club might want – therefore giving them a possible escape route should they want to leave.
These are the top 10 most expensive release clauses written into players’ contracts:
Ronaldo – €1billion (£886m)
Not for sale basically. Ronaldo’s clause has been this way since he signed.
No one would have paid it when he was in his prime and now that he is coming (very slowly) towards the end of his career there is even more certainty that no club will pay it.
Karim Benzema – €1bn (£886m)
Another ‘Not for Sale’ sign, more than anything because Benzema clearly is not worth £1billion.
It is virtually impossible to envisage any club spending €1bn on striker Karim Benzema
Isco, Marco Asensio – €700m (£620m)
Isco renewed this summer and Real Madrid slapped the €700m ticket on him, in part as a reaction to Barcelona losing Neymar.
It was a wake-up call that with FFP seemingly toothless there is nothing to stop a oil-rich club trying to poach him.
But these clauses are beyond anyone’s budget – even PSG’s.
Real Madrid are guarding their young talent such as Isco (left) and Marco Asensio
Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, Dani Ceballos – €500m (£443m)
Bale renewed in 2016 and although his is half the value of Ronaldo’s buy-out price it is still too much for any buyers.
Buy-out clauses don’t have to be met, of course. They only serve their purpose if the club does not want to sell. The clause protects them against losing the player against their will but if Real Madrid wanted to sell Bale for €150m they could.
The trio of midfielders here reflect the value to Madrid of the engine room that has powered the club to successive Champions League trophies. Caballos joins Asensio and Isco as the Spanish core to Madrid’s future.
Gareth Bale is among a number of Real players with €500m transfer release clauses
Dani Ceballos is a newcomer to Real Madrid but the midfielder still has a huge buy-out fee
Ousmane Dembele – €400m (£354m)
The memory of lawyers representing Neymar and PSG turning up first at the La Liga offices and then at the Nou Camp to desposit the €222m was still fresh in the mind when Barca penned Dembele’s deal. There was no way he was not going to get a very high clause.
Barcelona are protecting Ousmane Dembele with a huge release clause after losing Neymar
Lionel Messi – €300m (£266m)
Barcelona trust Messi not to leave. So although the clause is relatively low they believe his sentimental attachment to the club that paid his hormone growth therapy treatment all those years ago would mean he would never run out for Real Madrid even if they put €300m on the table.
At least that’s the theory. Some nervous fans would still be a lot happier if the clause was higher. And they are even more concerned that until he actually signs his new deal he can leave for free next summer.
Lionel Messi’s contract says he is available for €300m – but the reality is probably different
Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets, Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta, Antoine Griezmann – €200m (£177m)
Suarez’s clause is just a notch below Messi. At 30 years old, clubs might be unwilling to pay such a huge fee. Iniesta like Messi is a free agent next summer.
Griezmann’s clause was set at €100m but it was boosted for the last window because Atletico Madrid were not able to buy a replacement. It will return to €100m next summer.
That’s ridiculously low in the current climate so expect him to leave if it does not change. Of course if the club want to raise his clause they will have to raise his salary too.
Luis Suarez’s is available for less than it cost PSG to buy his former team-mate Neymar
Atletico Madrid need to up Antoine Griezmann’s release clause if they want to keep hold of him