The cost of a signing: What it is paid and to whom for a soccer player

Frequently, we value a player for the price a team pays for him, but where does this figure come from?

The cost of a signing: What it is paid and to whom for a soccer player

Leer en español: El costo de un fichaje: Conozca qué se paga y a quién por un jugador de fútbol

The World Cup, which the French team won, has delayed the signing of players, but even so, it is possible that we have already seen the most important transfer of a player in this year. Cristiano Ronaldo, a five-time winner of the Golden Ball, has chosen Turin over Madrid in a business in which 117 million dollars also changed of ownership.Frequently, the media limits itself to citing this total figure to refer to the value of a player, but it is important to go further and understand exactly what these clubs are paying and to whom, since the number of the value of the signing can accommodate many interests and it is not a faithful representation of the value of a player.

The clause of liberation

Cases like that of Cristiano Ronaldo or the Brazilian player Neymar, for whom the most expensive transfer of history was paid, the sum of 265 million dollars, are so bulky because the player still had a current contract with the club for which he played.

Leja em português: O custo de um 'pass': saber o que e quem paga por um jogador de futebol

The contracts, according to FIFA, the largest regulator of sport, can last up to 5 years. These are very diverse in how much they can understand. However, almost everyone has something called a release clause, a part of the contract where a club establishes the amount that must be paid to disengage a player from his current contract and that he can sign a new contract with another team.

For clubs, the main objective of including a release clause is to keep a player in their teams. Generally, very high numbers are required to activate this clause and it is a powerful legal instrument to discourage other clubs that want to get the services of a specific player. In this way, the club is helped to retain the player more easily.

The figures that the clubs demand to activate the release clause are a good indication of the plans that a club has for a player, because the higher the cipher is the higher the commitment of a player with his club. In the year 2017, the French striker Karim Benzema signed a contract with Real Madrid that includes a clause releasing 1,000 million euros (1,167 million dollars), almost four times what was paid for Neymar in the most expensive transfer of the world.

However, Cristiano Ronaldo's contract with Real Madrid had a release clause of equal value, but only 117 million dollars were paid for him, which shows that Ronaldo and Real Madrid have most likely renegotiated the terms of the contract to facilitate his transfer to the club Juventus. The above shows that these figures often represent a symbolic value and are flexible to facilitate the interests of the clubs and players involved.

In all the transfers where the player is subject to a current contract, activating the release clause composes most of the total amount, and it is money that flows directly from the club that buys to the one that sells.

Free transfers and the importance of salary

When a player has no current contract with his club there is no release clause. Therefore, a club does not pay another a number for his transfer, the player is limited to dissociate from his current club and sign a contract with the new. According to a FIFA investigation, 86% of the transfers that occurred in 2017 were by this means and only 14% involved the activation of a release clause.

For this reason, as the players' contracts approach the expiration date, the amount that the clubs are willing to pay for him decreases, since in a short time they will be able to have access to him without paying most of the transfer. .


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For this reason, the English club Manchester United, the most valuable in the world according to Forbes, could access the Chilean star of Arsenal, Alexis Sanchez without paying a single dollar to the club in London, because his contract had only six months left in effect . For this reason, it was enough to allow Arsenal to access player Henrikh Mkhitaryan without paying a release clause for one of the top scorers in the English league to join the ranks of Manchester United.

For a player, this is not a problem, because the money that includes the transfer is not for him, what the player cares about is the negotiation of his new contract that specifies what his weekly salary will be in the club, among many other bonuses and additional clauses that determine how much you will earn for your work.

What other interests are contemplated in the cost of a transfer?

Broadly speaking, the cost of the release clause must be added to what it is paid to the facilitators of the negotiation, that is, the players' agents and advisors.

In the case of the transfer of Neymar to Paris in 2017, the clause releasing the player cost 265 million dollars, but The Guardian reported that additionally the Parisian club had to pay about 45 million additional to the facilitators; Neymar's agent, Pini Zahavi, and his father who acts as his advisor.

LatinAmerican Post | Pedro Bernal
Translated from "
El costo de un ‘pase’: Conozca qué se paga y a quién por un jugador de fútbol"

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