Transfer release clauses serve multiple purposes. A high release clause can secure a player’s future at the club as they hope such fee will scare away potential suitors. There are many different types of release clauses. Most clauses require the club to accept an offer once the clause has been met whilst other’s contain different stipulations; such as Arsenal’s failed transfer bid for Luis Suarez which was £1 over his £40m release clause.
Such clauses are rare in England, Italy and Germany but clubs have used them in the past such as Aston Villa who forced Liverpool to pay the full £32m release clause in the Belgian’s contract. In Spain, however, release clauses are mandatory but usually set well above a player’s actual worth. Therefore this list is dominated by players from the Spanish league.
Below is the top 10 largest release clauses in the world…
#10 – KOKE – ATLETICO MADRID – £41.8m
Atletico Madrid’s playmaker Koke starts the list with a release clause of £41.8m. Koke has become one of Atletico’s most important players in recent years and has excelled under Diego Simeone’s leadership. Rumours have suggested that Chelsea could be interested in re-uniting Koke with former team-mate Diego Costa at Stamford Bridge whilst other reports suggest Koke is a target for Barcelona who would have to shell out over £40m to secure their man.
#9 – RYAN GAULD – SPORTING LISBON – £41.8m
Ryan Gauld is a relatively unknown name in world football but has one of the largest release clauses in the world. After breaking into the first team at Dundee United, Gauld quickly became one of the club’s biggest prospects and Manchester United were linked with a move for the 19 year old. However, Gauld revealed that Cristiano Ronaldo convinced him to snub the Red Devils for Sporting Lisbon and has made two appearances following his £3m move from Scotland.
#8 – AYMERIC LAPORTE – ATHLETIC BILBAO – £50m
Bilbao centre-back Aymeric Laporte is the first player to have a release clause at £50m or above. Laporte has developed into one of the world’s most promising centre backs which has prompted interest from both Manchester United and Chelsea. Although the 21 year old’s release clause stands at £50m, reports suggest it would take an offer of around £35m for Bilbao to let the Frenchman leave.
#7 – GARETH BALE – REAL MADRID – £75m
Surprisingly, Wales and Real Madrid superstar Gareth Bale’s release clause only stands at £75m despite the club forking out £85m for his services. Since his transfer from Tottenham, Bale has divided opinion. Following a fantastic debut season in Spain, his dip in form was followed by some heavy criticism and rumours that an exit was on the cards. Manchester United and Chelsea were reportedly ready to meet the £75m release clause in Bale’s contract before the former Southampton man committed his future to Madrid.
#6 – JORDI ALBA – BARCELONA – £104.5m
Jordi Alba is the first player to have a release clause that tops the £100m mark. Since his transfer from Valencia to Barcelona, Alba has been a mainstay in the Barcelona side and has become one of the best attacking left backs in the world. The 26 year old has went on to make 123 appearances for the Blaugrana winning two league titles and one Champions League crown.
#5 – SERGIO RAMOS – REAL MADRID – £125m
Sergio Ramos was subject of major interest from Manchester United this summer but Real Madrid refused to sell one of their most prized assets. Ramos is one of the best centre backs in the world and his worth to Madrid is shown by the mammoth size of his release clause. It has since been revealed that Rafael Benitez fought to keep the Spaniard at the club with the player reportedly happy to move to United should Madrid receive a bid that satisfied their needs.
#4 – NEYMAR – BARCELONA – £132.4m
Neymar was another player, along with every player on this list, that Manchester United were reportedly keen to sign this summer but the Brazilian dismissed the interest and revealed his desire to stay at Barcelona. The 23 year old was instrumental in the Catalans historic treble winning season alongside Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi. Neymar has also proved just how valuable he is to Luis Enrique following some stellar performances in the absence of the injured Argentine.
#3 – ANDRES INIESTA – BARCELONA – £139.4m
Alongside Xavi, Andres Iniesta provided the spine of one of the most successful and dominant football sides the world has even seen. With the two Spaniards pulling the strings, Barca seemed unstoppable at times. Iniesta has been at the club since 1996 and will likely retire at the club where he has lifted seven league titles and four Champions Leagues. Despite the 31 year old entering the closing stages of his career, he remains an integral part of Barcelona’s plans.
#2 – LIONEL MESSI – BARCELONA – £179m
Arguably the best player in the world, maybe even the best ever, Lionel Messi commands one of the world’s highest transfer fees. Recent reports have suggested that Messi is considering his future in Spain and that he has never been closer to leaving Barcelona. Therefore we may well see this release clause being met in the near future with PSG, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United interested in the currently injured Argentine maestro.
#1 – CRISTIANO RONALDO – REAL MADRID – £697.6m
Cristiano Ronaldo’s release clause, as revealed by agent Jorge Mendes, currently stands at a whopping €1bn as Real Madrid look to keep hold of their most prized possession. Ronaldo recently become their highest scoring player ever with a remarkable 325 goals for the club since joining for a world record fee from Manchester United. Although ability wise, Ronaldo and Messi are extremely close, it may be the Portuguese international’s commercial appeal which sets his release clause much higher than his arch rival. Nevertheless, Real Madrid are certainly planning to hold on to their main man unless the transfer record they broke to acquire him, is well and truly smashed.
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