Messi, Benzema, Griezmann: Starting XI of players with the highest buyout clauses in football

Real Madrid stars have high release clauses

Lionel Messi wants to leave Barcelona.

After 16 seasons incredible at Camp Nou, the man seen by many as the greatest footballer of all time is done. 

But he won’t be going quietly. The club are desperate to keep Messi and will make it very hard for him to walk. 

Much of the argument revolves around his contract. 

The Argentine believes he’s entitled to activate the clause in his deal that allows him to leave for free every summer, while Barca are demanding his €700m buyout is met. 

On Sunday, La Liga sided with the club and shared a statement confirming that the only way Messi can leave is if a club pays his release clause.

Surely no one can afford that? €700m is an extortionate amount of money, but it’s nowhere near the biggest in football. 

Messi's buyout is not the biggest in football

Check out an XI of the players who have the highest release clauses in the world. 

GK – Thibaut Courtois | Real Madrid | €700m

Back in 2018, Courtois forced a move from Chelsea to Real Madrid. Regarded as one of the best goalkeepers in the world, he arrived for just £31.5m

Los Blancos inserted a €700m buyout into his deal to ensure the Belgian will be at the Bernabeu for many years to come. 

Courtois has a huge buyout

CB: Raphael Varane | Real Madrid | €500m

Regarded as one of the best defenders in the world, it’s little shock that Madrid have written a huge release clause into Varane’s contract. 

Any club hoping to sign the defender will have to pay €500m for the World Cup winner.

Varane is worth a lot of money

CB: Samuel Umtiti | Barcelona | €500m

Like Varane, Umtiti has a €500m buyout in his contract. Barcelona signed the defender back in 2016, but reports suggest he has been told by Ronald Koeman that he’s not needed at Camp Nou.

In this rare instance, the club may be willing to sell for much, much less than €500m. 

Umtiti could go for much cheaper

CB: Gerard Pique | Barcelona | €500m

Pique completes the back three and his release clause is the same as the two above. 

Now 33, the Spaniard is past his prime but has been one of the best defenders in the world for over a decade now. No wonder his contract, signed in 2018, included a huge buyout. 

Pique's buyout is huge

LM: Isco | Real Madrid | €700m

Isco has found himself out of favour at Madrid in recent years and he’s also struggled to hold down a starting place due to injury.

But when he signed his latest deal in 2017, Los Blancos inserted a €700m release clause into his contract. Would any club really pay that for Isco? We’re not so sure. 

Isco would be an expensive purchase

CM: Luka Modric | Real Madrid | €750m

When Modric signed his contract in 2016, Real Madrid included a hefty buyout clause of €750m.

It seems they were right to do so, considering the Croatian midfielder went on to win the Ballon d’Or in 2018 while proving his importance to the club. 

Modric is getting on now

CM: Federico Valverde | Real Madrid | €750m

This one might come as a bit of a shock. Valverde has done very little to prove his incredible worth at the Bernabeu.

But the fact that the club set his release clause at €750m back in 2019 proves that he’s got a bright future ahead of him. 

Valverde is one of the more expensive players

RM: Marco Asensio | Real Madrid | €700m

Like his midfield partner Isco, Asensio has a €700m clause in the contract he signed back in 2017.

Real Madrid really were desperate to tie their stars down that summer, weren’t they? 

Asensio has a huge buyout

FWD: Lionel Messi | Barcelona | €700m

The man that all the debate surrounds. It sounds like the only way Messi can leave Barca this summer is if a club triggers his €700m buyout. 

It’s incredibly unlikely that will happen, so the Argentine may have to fight his way out of Camp Nou – via court. 

Messi might have to fight his way out of Barca

FWD: Karim Benzema | Real Madrid | €1bn

Benzema has the biggest buyout clause in this XI, set at a ridiculous €1 billion. 

He’s spent over a decade at Madrid and is undoubtedly one of the club’s greatest ever players, but to sign a deal with a €1bn release clause at the age of 32 is quite extraordinary. 

Benzema's buyout is ridiculous

FWD: Antoine Griezmann | Barcelona | €800m

Despite Messi’s stature at Camp Nou, his buyout clause is dwarfed by Griezmann, who would cost €800m to buy.

Barca found it tough to get their man in 2019 and have made sure no one else can touch him for as long as he’s needed by the club.  

Griezmann is the second-most expensive star

That’s one ridiculously expensive XI. As you can see, all the players involved are from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

In Spain, club’s are required to insert release clauses into deals. Other countries don’t follow that rule. But it’s certainly a good way to protect your prize assets as Barca are finding out. 

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