Ronaldo, Messi, Neymar: The most bizarre contract clauses in football history

Messi and Neymar had bizarre contract clauses at Barcelona

There’s less than a month remaining in the summer transfer window and it’s really hotting up.

There is a transfer saga emerging with Harry Kane missing training at Tottenham amid interest from Manchester City. Pep Guardiola’s side also secured a £100 million move for Jack Grealish.

However, it takes more than just agreeing on a transfer fee for deals to get done these days.

Contracts are becoming more and more complex to sign with the interference of superagents and various player demands. Often the club has specific demands for the player they’re signing. It’s far more than just the salary that needs to be agreed.

So, we thought it’s the perfect time of the year to look at some of the most bizarre contract clauses in football history. Therefore, we’ve identified 18 of the strangest clauses that we’ve ever heard of.

It starts with two of the greatest players to have ever played the game and ends with a player wanting to improve the cooking skills of his wife…



Lionel Messi – Catalan clause

After Lionel Messi’s incredible contract was leaked it showed there was a clause that he should “integrate into Catalan society and culture”.

It meant that Barcelona asked Messi to learn Catalan, while another said he would become a free agent should Catalonia become independent.

Cristiano Ronaldo – €1 billion release clause

In La Liga, every player HAS to have a release clause in their contract. While it certainly wasn’t strange that Cristiano Ronaldo had one in his deal, the fact it was a ridiculous €1 billion made it pretty pointless.

Perez summed it up by saying: “The release clauses are not there to be paid. If there has to be sale, it’s negotiated.”

Neymar – Visiting friends clause

When Barca signed Neymar from Santos in 2013, the Spanish club didn’t want him being homesick. Therefore, they agreed to pay an all expensive visit from his group of friends to visit. Not once but every fortnight!

Neymar and his friends in Barcelona

Keisuke Honda – Armoured vehicle clause

In January 2020, Japan legend Keisuke Honda signed for Brazilian side Botafogo only after he asked to have an armoured vehicle.

Rio De Janeiro is considered one of the most dangerous places in the world and Honda feared for his safety in the football-mad city which has four football clubs – Botafogo Flamengo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama.

Radamel Falcao – Dodgy knee clause

When Manchester United signed Falcao from Monaco in September 2014, they feared his dodgy knees. If Falcao’s knee problems returned, they were able to terminate the loan with no financial penalty.

Falcao did last the season but the club decided not to trigger the option of signing him permanently.

Stefan Schwarz – Space clause

When Stefan Schwarz signed for Sunderland from Valencia in 1999, he was considering signing up for one of the first commercial flights to space.

So, Sunderland decided to insert a ‘space clause’ into his contract.

Sunderland’s chief executive, John Fickling, told the BBC at the time: “One of Schwarz’s advisers has, indeed, got one of the places on the commercial flights.

“And we were worried that he may wish to take Stefan along with him. So we thought we’d better get things tied up now rather than at the time of the flight.”

Stefan Schwarz at Sunderland

Dennis Bergkamp – No-fly clause

From a player who wanted to take to the skies to a player who wouldn’t leave the ground. Dennis Bergkamp was scared of flying and missed many European away matches for Arsenal. Fortunately, he was an incredible player and the club granted his requests.

Samuel Eto’o – Private Jet clause

Remember when Samuel Eto’o made the surprise move to Russian club Anzhi Makhachkala from Inter Milan in 2011? Well, that HUGE contract, which made him the world’s highest paid player, featured a private jet clause.

It’s because he wanted to live in Moscow, rather than Makhachkala – more than 1,000 miles away. A normal flight takes more than two hours but Eto’o could be home from training in an hour.

Georg Koch – Racism clause

While some of these clauses are light-hearted and comical, this one certainly isn’t. German goalkeeper Georg Koch feared he would be racially abused about his nationality after moving to PSV in the Netherlands. It took just three months before he returned to Germany.

Georg Koch at PSV

Mario Balotelli – Good conduct clause

Liverpool’s decision to sign Mario Balotelli back in 2014 was certainly surprising. That proved to be the case with just four goals in 28 appearances in all competitions. He was on his best behaviour, though, because the Reds inserted a ‘good behaviour’ clause which meant he would have to leave if he misbehaved.

Luis Suarez – Biting clause

After biting opponents whilst playing at Ajax, Liverpool and Uruguay, Barcelona didn’t want history to repeat itself when they paid £64.98 million for Luis Suarez in 2014. Therefore, they reportedly included a ‘no biting’ clause which meant he would be sold if he did so. Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has since denied that such a clause exists.

Ronaldinho – Two nights out clause

When Ronaldinho went back to Brazil in 2011 to sign for Flamengo, he just wanted to enjoy the final few years of his career. Therefore, he ensured the club included a clause where he was allowed two nights out a week. What a guy.

Ronaldinho had a nightclub clause

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – 20-minute appearance clause

Arsenal had to pay Southampton a £10,000 appearance fee whenever Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain played 20 minutes or more. If you saw him being subbed on in the 71st minute, you know why.

Neil Ruddock – Weight clause

Ruddock has never been particularly athletic but when he joined Crystal Palace towards the end of his career, chairman Simon Jordan revealed how they attempted to help him keep in shape.
“I decided to put a 10 per cent penalty on the contract we were proposing to offer him if he was over the recommended weight of 99.8kg, which by the way was still frigging huge,” Jordan revealed.

Ruddock was fined eight times in less than six months.

Roberto Firmino – Anti-Arsenal clause

Remember when Arsenal bid £40million + £1 for Luis Suarez in 2013? Well, Liverpool certainly still remember it because when they signed Roberto Firmino from Hoffenheim in 2015, they included a €98million release clause “if the interested club is not Arsenal”. The Brazilian has scored eight goals in 12 Premier League matches against the Gunners.

Roberto Firmino loves playing for Liverpool against Arsenal

Giuseppe Reina – House clause

The German striker demanded his club, Arminia Bielefeld, built him a house for every year of his contract.

However, he didn’t give any dimensions and the club built him three houses of LEGO for the three years of his contract. Brilliant.

Stig Inge Bjornebye – No ski clause

The Norwegian was a keen ski jumper in his youth – a sport in which his father competed at the Olympics. But Liverpool weren’t having any of it and wouldn’t allow him within 200 yards of a ski slope. There probably aren’t too many ski slopes in Liverpool, to be fair.

Rolf-Christel Guie-Mien – Wife cooking lessons clause

When the Congolese midfielder joined Eintracht Frankfurt, he only agreed to sign a contract if his wife was given cooking lessons. We’d love to know how his wife reacted to that.

Rolf-Christel Guie-Mien
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