These days it seems like you can’t be thought of as a world class soccer player unless you have a super-sized release clause in your contract. The most recently example: Barcelona have finally closed the book on the protracted transfer saga/soap opera that was Cesc Fabregas’ move to the Camp Nou. In addition to the £35m fee paid it was announced that the midfielder had a €200m release clause inserted in his contract.
The high price is supposed to be a statement of intent to keep a player but is it really anything besides a headline grab? Why not just state unequivocally that the player is off market for the duration of his contract? Because every player has his price. Does anyone believe that if a club bid 100m for Fabregas Barcelona wouldn’t snap off their hand before the sentence was finished just because a release clause was not met?
This is not to say that all release clauses are fluff, smaller clubs looking to extract value from a superstar talent can benefit greatly from committing a player in this way (Neymar, Coentrao). But for mega-clubs the release clause is more of a financial fog machine to grow the mystique of money and power around the club rather than any real statement of intent.
Here are some of the largest reported release clauses out there: