Benzema, Haaland and players with clauses in their contracts
It’s not always possible for football players to get the transfer they want if they don’t have a release clause.
This is the case for Cristiano Ronaldo and Harry Kane. Kane wants to join Manchester City in 2021, but his current club Tottenham are staying. Without a buyout clause, the England striker struggled to get his transfer accepted and a year later Pep Guardiola’s men instead signed Erling Haaland.
Atletico Madrid, Napoli and Sporting Lisbon were among the clubs that failed to snatch players from Old Trafford, with no exit clause in Cr7’s contract, prompting Ronaldo to burn his bridges with explosive interviews and end his contract with United.
Increasingly, big name players are negotiating minimum fee exit clauses in the contracts they sign with clubs, and ensuring these are set at a realistic level.
Fashionable release clause
Such action ensures that if a team trying to buy a player pays the required transfer fee – which in some cases can only be triggered from a certain date – the offer will be accepted automatically, and can then begin negotiating personal terms.
This is a move that is often attractive to young players. They could, for example, join a top-flight club and hope to secure, if they perform well, transfers to bigger teams such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Chelsea, Man City and Man Utd.
However, their current club may be reluctant to sell star players and try to dissuade these top teams by charging a high price.
In the Premier League in particular, many clubs, even in the middle or bottom of the table, have enough financial clout to survive should a top team emerge, so the buyout clause can be a powerful tool.
However, the buyout clause is not limited to upcoming players.
Haaland and his agent negotiated a buyout clause even after joining Man City in 2022.
In a move that will prompt Madrid to sign him, Haaland has a release clause that will come into effect in the summer of 2024 and is valued at €200 million.
The Norwegian superstar then has a second release clause with a minimal price to be activated in the summer of 2025 for 175 million euros.
City can’t prevent Haaland’s departure if he accepts a transfer offer for that amount by the set date, but they can’t complain too much – he only paid 60 million euros after also fulfilling the release clause in his contract with Borussia Dortmund which was activated at the end of last season.
In some leagues, such as La Liga, rules and traditions dictate that every player has a release clause included in his contract. In some cases, clubs have set requirements that are too high to discourage potential buyers.
La Liga clubs have been using it for a long time
At FC Barcelona, Lionel Messi received a contract in 2009 that included a buyout clause of 250 million euros, an amount that was considered inaccessible at the time.
This sum then increased to a staggering €700 million when he signed another new contract at Camp Nou in 2017. PSG then paid €222 million to reach Neymar’s release clause, an amount also considered too high to pay.
Recently, Madrid and Barça have even started to include multiple release clauses for the incredible amount of one billion euros! The Catalan team has seven players who have received this astronomical award, the last of which is young midfielder Gavi.
Clubs often try to deny this clause in contracts.
Last summer, RB Leipzig pulled off a feat when they tied down their star man Christopher Nkunku to a new contract which did not contain the €60m buyout clause the player had originally requested.
Here is a list of some of the most famous players in world football who are said to have a release clause in their contracts.