The January transfer market is now open, and it promises to be a very significant window.
There is no greater investment in modern football today than the purchasing of new players.
Amidst lucrative broadcast deals and sky-rocketing finances; the continued escalation of transfer fees and wages means all clubs cannot afford to make any mistakes.
And with this in mind, owners, directors, managers, and at times, players, are taking to the small print to ensure their time together goes swimmingly.
Daily Star Sport considers five of the most bizarre contract clauses ever seen in football history.
Neil Ruddock’s weight clause
Despite being known as Neil Razor Ruddock, the infamous tough tackling defender was not one of the sharpest movers.
While he was an impressive central defender and a natural born leader, the former Crystal Palace, Tottenham, and West Ham star struggled to maintain his physical fitness. So much so that former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan included a weight clause in his deal when he signed Ruddock from West Ham in the year 2000.
"Harry Redknapp told me to make sure I had a weight clause in his contract – 98 kilos, or whatever, and if he's over that then fine him 10% of his wages,” Jordan said in an interview with FourFourTwo. "That is the only way to ensure you get a fit and focused Ruddock."
Unfortunately, it did not have the desired effect as Ruddock was fined on numerous occasions before being moved on to Swindon Town at the end of his first season.
Stefan Schwarz space clause
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‘Reach for the stars’ is the typical line of advice given to over-enthusiastic primary school teachers, yet former Sunderland player Stefan Schwartz’s aspired to reach even higher. The Swedish player did not exactly take the Premier League by storm when he was signed from Valencia for £4m in the summer of 1999.
However, he became the topic of conversation when the Black Cats inserted a clause in his contract, which forbayed him from travelling into space.
At the time, commercial passenger flights out of Earth and into Space were expected to begin as early as 2002, and they believed one of Schwarz’s advisors were going to reserve him a seat.
"One of Schwarz's advisers has, indeed, got one of the places on the commercial flights,” Sunderland chief executive John Flickling said on BBC Radio 5 Live. "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.”
Costa’s £23m fine
Having grown tired of their top players departing the club to sign for Real Madrid and Barcelona, Atletico Madrid ensured any potential exit to their fiercest rivals would come at a huge price.
Diego Costa returned to the Wanda Metropolitano in 2017 having fired Chelsea to the Premier League title in the previous season.
While the Spanish international was welcomed back into Diego Simeone’s side in open arms, they ensured his next move would not be to the Catalans, Los Blancos, or Sevilla by inserting a £23m fine into his contract.
Costa terminated his contract with the club early in January 2020 and was even a free agent for nine months, until he was snapped up by Atletico Mineiro last summer.
Luis Suarez and biting
While every top-quality striker needs a bit of penetration and bite, Suarez took the latter a little bit too literally on not one, not two, but three occasions.
Suarez entrenched himself as one of the best players in world football with his dazzling displays for Liverpool and Uruguay in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
However, his magic and performances for the Reds and the South Americans was overshadowed after he appeared to bite Giorgio Chieliini in a group-match against Italy. He had also previously bitten Otman Bakkal while playing for Ajax in 2010, as well as Chelsea defender Branislav Ivanovic in 2013.
And to ensure their hefty £75 investment in Suarez did not come back to bite them, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu allegedly inserted a ‘no-biting’ clause in his contract with the Catalans.
Ronaldinho partying clause
Former Barcelona and Brazil star Ronaldinho brought the soul and magic of the Samba into his captivating performances in the early 2000s.
He regularly dropped jaws and inspired a generation of players with his magical skills, incredible goals, and his goofy smile on the pitch.
However, Ronaldinho was so partial to a late-night clubbing, he insisted on including a clause allowing him two-nights out a week when he joined Flamengo in 2011.
Fortunately for the former Ballon d’Or winner, the Brazilian giants granted his wish and allowed him to wear his dancing shoes as much as his football boots during his time with the club.
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