Earlier this week, it was revealed that Philippe Coutinho’s five-and-a-half year contract deal with Barcelona, is set to contain a massive £400 million release clause. Judging by current trends, £400 million is probably what Man City are planning on bidding for Jonny Evans next week; however, the ridiculous amount has seen Coutinho move into the Top 10 list of football’s biggest release clauses.
Here are the other nine:
Dani Ceballos – £443m
Having signed a six-year deal with Real Madrid in July 2017, Dani Ceballos boasts one of the biggest release clauses in world football. The 21-year-old has made just six league appearances for Los Blancos this season, and is unlikely to feature in the starting XI any time soon, with the likes of Toni Kroos and Luca Modric being preferred in central midfield positions. By the time Ceballos’ contract runs out, he will be 27-years-old, and Madrid are hopeful that he will develop into one of their biggest stars. One likely explanation for Ceballos’ astronomical release clause, is that prior to signing for Madrid, the midfielder was linked with a move to Barcelona. Good luck trying to buy him any time soon.
Toni Kroos – £443m
Toni Kroos is one of the most talented central midfielders in the world, and a pivotal part of Real Madrid’s success over the last few seasons. Since joining the Spanish giants in 2014, Kroos has claimed one La Liga title, and two Champions League winners medals. At 28-year-old, Kroos is fast approaching the peak of his career, and it comes as no surprise that Madrid have done all they can to protect one of their biggest assets. The German’s current contract is set to expire in 2022, but you can almost guarantee that Kroos will be signing an extension long before that. There are very few midfielders in the same bracket as Toni Kroos, and provided the likes of Man City and PSG don’t come knocking, the German is on course to become a Real Madrid legend.
Luka Modric – £443m
Much like Toni Kroos, Luka Modric has been at the very heart of Real Madrid’s recent domination of European football. The fact that both Kroos and Modric have the exact same release clauses, is testament to both their dynamic midfield partnership, and Madrid’s awareness that they are becoming hugely important to the fabric of the club. Ronaldo, Bale, and Benzema often take the lion’s share of the praise when Madrid outperform their opponents, but without Luka Modric making things tick in the middle of the park, Los Blancos would be miles behind rivals Barcelona.
Gareth Bale – £443m
Gareth Bale’s recent stint of bad luck with injuries has raised huge question marks over his future at the Santiago Bernabeu, and it’s sometimes easy to forget the hype that surrounded the Welshman, when he left to join La Liga in 2013. Bale is one of the most gifted players of the last decade, and Madrid obviously had long term plans for the former Spurs man when they added a £443m release clause to his contract extension in 2016. Much has changed over the last year, and if Madrid decide to part ways will Bale is 2018, we’re not likely to see the Welshman have such a costly release clause ever again. If current trends continue however, Bale could still fetch well over £100m for Los Blancos.
Marco Asensio – £620m
With such a wealth of young Spanish talent emerging from La Liga over the last few years, clubs are keen to keep hold of their brightest prospects, and if this list has proved anything, it’s that Real Madrid are leading the way in terms of watertight contracts. Attacking midfielder Marco Asensio is tipped to become the stand out player of Spain’s new generation. The 21-year-old has chipped in with seven goals for Madrid this season, just three less than he scored over the entire 2016/17 season – which is impressive considering the relative lack of first team opportunities. £620m is a ridiculous figure for a seemingly undeveloped player; however, the fact that Zinedine Zidane was prepared to sell Alvaro Morata to make way for younger talents, should tell you everything you need to know about his faith in Marco Asensio. Definitely one for the future.
Isco – £620m
After two relatively disappointing seasons in 2014/15 and 2015/16, Real Madrid’s Isco has experienced a huge turnaround in form, and is fast becoming one of the most sought after talents in La Liga. The 25-year-old has finally managed to live up the the immense hype that surrounded his early Madrid career, leading the club to offer him a lucrative five-year contact in 2016, with a massive £620m release clause attached to it. Madrid clearly view Isco as a major part of their future ambitions, so much so, that they allowed fellow attacking midfielder James Rodriguez to be loaned to Bayern Munich last summer. Isco’s current contract is not set to expire until June 2022, which by all rights, should coincide with his peak years. £620m may not seem like such a ridiculous a figure by then.
Lionel Messi – £626m
It’s hard to put a price on a man who could well be the greatest footballer of all time. But apparently, that price is £626 million.
Lionel Messi is one of the only players in sports history that can justify such an immense figure. Firstly, because any club would be mad to let him leave, and secondly, because Messi is going to sell £626m worth of merchandise, and bring silverware and prestige to any club he should wish to play for. It’s fair to assume that Messi’s release clause is nothing more than a formality however. The Argentine has no desire to leave Barcelona, and they have no desire to sell him – a rare situation in the modern game. Messi almost exists outside of football’s financial boundaries, which is perhaps why he is so focussed on his trade, and so bad at paying taxes.
Karim Benzema – £886m
When Karim Benzema signed a new four-year deal with Real Madrid last September, he effectively committed the rest of his playing career to the club. The Frenchman has been an important part of Madrid’s recent success, but it’s hard to deny that an £886m release clause seems a tad excessive for a player that has failed to produce the same levels of quality as some of his La Liga contemporaries. Madrid have few weak links in their starting XI, and while Benzema is a trusted centre-forward, there are plenty of strikers in Europe’s top leagues that are more worthy of such an astronomical fee. If Benzema is supposedly worth nearly £1bn, then how much would Madrid be willing to pay for say, Aguero or Lewandowski? If proof were ever needed that release clauses are not necessarily representative of the actual value of a player – this is it.
Cristiano Ronaldo – £886m
The eighth and final Real Madrid player to feature in this list is of course Cristiano Ronaldo, who’s 2016 contract included a whopping £886m buy-out clause – making the Portuguese forward at least as valuable a player as teammate Karim Benzema. Like Lionel Messi, Ronaldo is a footballer who almost exists outside of the financial constraints of modern the game, as it’s hard to put a price on a living legend. What we can take from Ronaldo’s release clause however, is an appreciation of how money has impacted football over the last decade. Who would have thought that eight years after Ronaldo departed from Manchester United for a then record £80m, he would literally be worth 10X as much.