Home Football Isco’s Prohibitive Release Clause Ushers In New Age Of Protectionism In Football

Isco’s Prohibitive Release Clause Ushers In New Age Of Protectionism In Football

SKOPJE, MACEDONIA - AUGUST 08: Isco of Real Madrid celebrates scoring his side's second goal during the UEFA Super Cup match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at National Arena Filip II Macedonian on August 8, 2017 in Skopje, Macedonia. (Photo by Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images)

Real Madrid are keen to keep the core of their Champions League winning squad in place until they see fit.

Isco signed a new 4 year deal (5th year option) with Real Madrid yesterday. Having gone from a fringe player to major cog in the Madrid midfield last season, Isco has been tied up for the foreseeable future by Florentino Perez.  The Spanish international will net a cool €6 million a year in wages, from the deal. In today’s excessive world, these wages are not exactly outrageous for a player of Isco’s considerable talent. What may be deemed excessive is the release clause that the La Liga champions saw fit to include in Isco’s deal.

According to Spanish outlet AS, the 25-year-old’s release clause has been raised from €150 million to €700 million. The astronomical figure is in line with Real’s new protective stance of their star players. Having witnessed Barcelona being plundered by oil-rich PSG, for Brazilian star Neymar, Real are taking no chances. A source told AS: “There are no players in Madrid’s first-team squad with a clause below €500m, and in Castilla [Real’s ‘B’ team], there are now players with clauses of €300m.”

While many may have felt that a release clause of reportedly €222 million was unnecessarily high for Neymar, PSG have flipped the script in terms of football spending. Lionel Messi’s reported release fee of €300 million could set alarm bells ringing at Camp Nou, especially if he suffers another season being pipped by Los Blancos.

The dilemma for clubs

Prized assets are no longer off limits at fees of €100 million. Ask Liverpool who are currently sweating furtively over Barcelona’s advances of Phillipe Coutinho. While that money may not be enough to ward clubs off, it still represents decent cash to re-invest in a squad, if you look in the right places. Thus, this creates a crux for many clubs. Slap a fee on a player that you know isn’t quite unassailable and be willing to accept that money to replace the starlet. Or, attach an over-priced fee to the player and risk being stuck with an unhappy player (read: Virgil Van Dijk).

Real Madrid obviously have the pulling power that renders such a crux unnecessary. They can afford to tie their players up with prohibitive fees, safe in the knowledge that, year in and year out, they will be challenging for honours, at the business end of the calendar. They can also offer the type of wages that would keep most players happy, even on their luxurious bench.

So, while Madrid have taken steps to ward off the oligarchs of the footballing world, Barcelona have faltered. Barca have been slower to adopt Real’s protective stance of their marquee assets.

To put it in context, examine the reported release fees for players from both Barca and Real below.

Real Madrid:

Cristiano Ronaldo – €1 billion, Karim Benzema – €1 billion, Isco – €700 million, Gareth Bale – €500 million, Luka Modric – €500 million


Lionel Messi – €300 million, Luis Suarez €200 million, Andres Iniesta €200 million, Sergio Busquets €200 million, Ivan Rakitic €125 million

Clubs like PSG, the Manchester pair, Chelsea, Real and even new big spenders A.C Milan, no longer see players like Suarez and Rakitic as beyond their reach. Such financial boldness should worry the Catalans. When a club like Everton (with modest aspirations of reaching Europe) aren’t balking at a €50 million fee for a decent Premier League player in Gylfi Sigurdsson, then prohibitive fees need to enter a whole new stratosphere, in order to be prohibitive again.

Madrid meanwhile, have made themselves top dog in all negotiations. No club realistically is going to be able to trigger their release clauses, so they can hardball as much as they want. Even with their Castilla players, they don’t have to worry about losing burgeoning talent, regardless of lack of game time they can offer. If they do deem a player surplus to requirements, they are in the position to name their price. With reference to the younger players it may seem unethical, but it sure is smart business.

Noel Ryan, Pundit Arena

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