Football's strangest contract clauses

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BOCA's 'new Pogba' and why he's headed to Juventus

The news value of a footballer's transfer from one club to another is often quantified in dollars and cents. Scant attention is given to the quirky contract demands that often make for far more entertaining reading. 

Why, for example, does Barcelona fly a pack of Neymar's mates from Brazil to the Spanish city once every two months for an all-expenses-paid junket? And why does Juventus get first pick of the best young talent coming out of Argentinian giant BOCA Juniors? It's down to the devilish details contained in their contracts that often make the difference between nabbing that star player. 

Juventus's dealings with BOCA got us thinking about football's strangest contract clauses. Here are our picks: 

Juventus - Carlos Tevez to Boca Juniors, 2015

When Carlos Tevez signed for Boca Juniours in 2015, Juventus made sure it received first dibs on signing any young talent from Boca.

That clause has since paid dividends with the Old Lady snaffling up Uruguayan wonderkid Rodrigo Bentancur for $13.5 million, after the 19-year-old  established himself as one of the club’s top players.

Thanks to this strange clause a host of clubs (including Tevez’s former club Manchester United) have their ex-player to thank for missing out on the exciting midfielder.

Giuseppe Reina - SG Wattenscheid 09 to Arminia Bielefeld, 1996


When negotiating a contract, small details make all the difference as German striker Guiseppe Reina found out the hard way.

When Reina signed a three-year deal with Arminia Bielefeld in 1996, he requested a brand-new house for every year of his contract.

Unfortunately for Reina, he forgot to elaborate on size and Arminia Bielfield took advantage - building three Lego houses Ed Sheeran would be proud of.

An 'astronomical' release clause - Stefan Schwarz: Valencia to Sunderland, 1999


Stefan Schwarz’s deal for Sunderland was truly out of this world. The Swede’s move to the Stadium of Light in 1999 hinged on one bizarre condition – Schwarz couldn’t travel to outer space.

At the time, the former Arsenal man was intent on signing up to the first commercial flights to outer space, prompting Sunderland to draw up a clause preventing him from takeoff.

Schwarz obliged and stayed at the club until the club's relegation and his retirement in 2003.

The anti PSG clause - Paul Pogba at Juventus 


As one of the hottest prospects in world football, it’s little wonder Juventus was wary of suitors poaching star midfielder Paul Pogba.

Cashed-up Paris Saint Germain showed the strongest interest, prompting Juventus taking extreme measures to prevent a move.

When the club extended his contract until 2019, it attached a $91 million release clause, but what raised eyebrows was the clause that added $13.3 million to the fee if it was PSG that tried to sign him.

The Ligue 1 champion had a right to feel aggrieved for being singled out, but shouldn’t feel too bad – Manchester United had to fork out a record $148 million, four years after letting him join the Old Lady for free.

Neymar's frequent fliers - Santos to Barcelona, 2013


Neymar’s $118 million move to Barcelona in 2013 was plagued with corruption allegations, which overshadowed a bizarre request from the Brazil captain.

For those lonely days in Catalunya, Neymar negotiated all-expenses-paid trips for his friends from Sao Paulo to visit every couple of months.

Former Barcelona President Rosell (who resigned after Neymar's deal was investigated) reportedly told the judge at a hearing that the club once paid $430,000 to fly Neymar’s entourage, the ‘Toiss’, over from Brazil in a private jet.

The 'non-flying Dutchman' - Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal


Dennis Berkhamp earned the nickname ‘the non-flying’ Dutchman after he negotiated a clause in his Arsenal contract not to travel by plane for away games, due to a crippling a fear of flying.

His fear of flying is so bad, Bergkamp vowed never to fly again in his autobiography, which rules out ever managing the Gunners after long-term boss Arsene Wenger makes way.

'I've flown countless times in large planes, small ones, tiny ones. At Ajax, I once flew in a minuscule plane over Mount Etna near Naples when we got into a terrible air pocket – in terms of flying, I've seen and done it all and I'm simply not flying again. Ever.'

'In talks with Arsenal, if I said "a million" they automatically deducted a hundred grand "because you don't fly". And I accepted that.'

The life of the party - Ronaldhino: AC Milan to Flamengo, 2011


Ronaldinho’s silky moves, gooffy smile and unbelievable skill made him the idol of most young fans growing up in the early 2000’s and his moves off the pitch were equally impressive.

It’s no secret the midfielder loves to party, so much so that when he left AC Milan to sign for Brazilian side Flamengo in 2011, Ronaldhino requested a clause which granted him a night out twice a week. Flamengo obliged without hesitation.

Weight of expectations - Neil Ruddock: West Ham to Crystal Palace, 2000


Neil Ruddock’s weight fluctuated like a yo yo as a player, and when the former Liverpool defender signed for Cyrstal Palace, a weight clause was drawn up, threatening to dock 10 per cent of his salary if he exceeded 99.8kg.

It all proved too much for the defender, who was fined eight times in six months, before leaving for Swindon.