Release Clauses in Soccer: What Really Happens

We all know that every soccer player has a price when a club wishes to purchase them for their clubs.

But, sometimes, when a soccer player signs a contract with a certain club, they agree on a fee for their release clause.

We’ll be going over some of the most-asked questions out there about release clauses in soccer:

  • How Does a Release Clause Work in Soccer?
  • Can a Soccer Player Reject a Transfer?
  • Which Soccer Player has the Highest Release Clause in Soccer?
  • What Happens if a Player Doesn’t Have a Release Clause?

How Does a Release Clause Work in Soccer?

Release Clauses in soccer aren’t that hard to understand. I mean, it’s essentially just a clause that the other club can pay to get a specific player.

Of course, there are a few variables and we must go over them.

Players and clubs agree on a release clause upon signing a contract. Release clauses aren’t actually mandatory when signing a contract, but it’s usually made when the player himself requests it.


In general, when another club wants to buy a player that has a release clause, if they pay the full amount of the clause, the club that the player is registered to has no saying in negotiations.

Soccer players will usually want to form a release clause in their contract so they don’t get tied to the club they’re signing a contract with.

If they feel they can improve a lot in the coming years, they’ll want to be more accessible to bigger clubs.

What is a Buyout Clause?

A Buyout Clause is a bit different compared to a release clause in soccer. These types of clauses have been mandatory in Spain soccer since 1985.

All in all, a buyout clause is a clause that the player must pay in order to be able to leave the club. 

Of course, this would be fully advanced by the club that wants to buy the player, and it used to get quite complicated in legal terms.

After the changes in October 2016, the advances paid by the buying club don’t get taxed on top of the fee.

Can A Soccer Player Refuse a Transfer?

This is a big difference compared to sports in America. When players get traded in the NBA, they often don’t have any say on it, but in soccer, it’s a bit different.

Soccer players can refuse the transfer, even if the club pays for the release clause or has an agreement with the player’s club, it won’t go through unless the player signs the contract.

This is the same case for a loan transfer. Soccer players are never forced to go out on a loan unless they want to.

Highest Release Clause in World Soccer

It’s pretty logical that the best players have the highest release clauses in soccer, right? Well, yes, that’s pretty logical, but it’s not quite the case.

One of the main reasons because of this is the thing we’ve mentioned above, Spain’s Buyout Clauses.

This is probably the main reason you’ll find loads of unthinkable player clauses that don’t come even remotely close to their market value.

Probably the main reason for this is because it’s mandatory. Barca and Real are both the top clubs in Spain, and they’re usually the main goal of many soccer players out there.

When they sign a player they have no intention to let go based on their buyout clause, they just put it extremely high so no one dares to take a look at it.

This is pretty much a fact based on a statistic done in February of 2020 by The Daily Mail where the top 10 highest release clauses in world soccer were all set on players from Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Soccer Player with the Highest Release Clause is Karim Benzema. (€1 Billion).

No player in any sports deserves such a high clause, but that’s actually the point.

The number One Billion isn’t how much Karim Benzema is worth on the transfer market, but how much he is worth to Real Madrid.

The point of this number is that he should be unreachable to other teams.

What was the Highest Activated Release Clause in Soccer?

The Highest Activated Release Clause is also the Most Expensive Soccer Transfer of All Time.

Neymar Jr. was involved in this transfer as Paris-Saint Germain activated his clause worth of 222 million euros ($270.02 million). No one ever thought a soccer player would be worth this much before.

What Happens if a Soccer Player Doesn’t Have a Release Clause?

A lot of players in soccer don’t actually even have a release clause in their contracts. This is pretty normal in soccer as you can still do transfers normally even without this.

If someone is trying to buy a player that doesn’t have a release clause, the club that the player is registered sets the price, and they don’t even have to accept the request at all.

There are several things that go into account when setting a player’s price in soccer:

  • Age (If the player is young and has great potential, the price will go up.)
  • Injury Frequency (If the player is Injury-Prone, it’s often risky to spend lots of money for him.)
  • Quality
  • Years left on a contract (If there’s not a lot of time left on a contract, the price will go down because the other club can get the player for free if the contract expires.)

However, even if the club wants to pay for the asking price, the deal can still fail if the player doesn’t want to leave.

There are also cases in soccer where players have a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ with their club.

Some players will agree to sign a contract extension, just so the clubs could have a better asking price.

If there’s 1 year left on a player’s contract, they could leave the club for a free next year, so signing a contract extension would bring his price back up.

However, this could be risky if the club doesn’t go through with the agreement as it is just a verbal agreement and nothing can be done about it.

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