Time to Change the Rules: Why Are Barcelona Release Clauses So Much Lower Than at Real Madrid?
There are no two ways about it, Barcelona were thoroughly embarrassed last week when Paris Saint-Germain triggered Neymar's release clause and successfully managed to prise the Brazilian superstar away against the wishes of everyone at Camp Nou.
PSG considered Neymar to be low hanging fruit and were prepared to take the risk and make him the most expensive player in history at a cost of €222m. Given his age, quality and potential marketing influence around the world, it is not even being seen as overly excessive on their part.
Such clauses are a mandatory inclusion in Spanish contracts and Barcelona probably never expected anyone to come close to the €200+m figure when the deal was signed in October of last year, given that Manchester United had only recently extended the world record to £89m.
But with more money than ever coursing through elite level football, the Catalans have been badly burned and it raises questions as to how they address contracts in the future and also prevent the same thing from happening with the contracts other star names are currently on.
Given the level of the release clauses in the rest of the Barça squad, it appears the club's attitude to the figures is more of a 'If we have to sell, we'll be happy to get this big number', rather than, 'We're safe because there is no way anyone will ever pay this unrealistic fee'.
Barcelona tied Lionel Messi down to a new contract this summer, yet his release clause is still *only* €300m. Compare that to Real Madrid where Cristiano Ronaldo's clause is €1bn.
Similarly, it would cost €1bn for any club wishing to sign Karim Benzema without Real's consent, while Gareth Bale and Luka Modric have €500m clauses. In Catalunya, it's less than half that at €200m each for Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta.
Real place their release clauses way, way, way above reasonable market value as a deterrent. If they didn't have to include them, one imagines they probably wouldn't. At Barcelona the much lower figures suggest their stance is different or there is a greater arrogance or naivety.
Dani Ceballos recently joined Real with a huge €500m release clause that will serve to protect the club from unwanted poaching. Samuel Umtiti arrived at Barça last summer with a €60m clause, a number that surely have been north of €200m had he been heading to the Bernabeu.
Marco Asensio, Dani Carvajal have €350m release clauses in Madrid, but for Sergi Roberto, a similar home-grown player at Barça, it's just €40m.
The quality of the player is not the biggest driver, rather Real's apparent insistence that they be in full control of every negotiation instead of being cut out as Barcelona were with Neymar. Perhaps the Catalans need to take a leaf out of the Madrid playbook or risk being hit again.