This is the summer of the buyout clause in Spanish football, as a tax change allows clubs to use the process without fear of a big tax bill following.
Pablo Fornals is the latest player to leave a Spanish club this summer for his clause, joining Villarreal from Malaga. The Southern Spanish club have also lost Sandro Ramirez to Everton, in a deal which cost the Goodison Park side just €6m.
From the top to the bottom of La Liga, players have been moving for their release clauses, and Everton aren’t the only English club to benefit. Newcastle United signed Florian Lejeune from Eibar for his €10m clause, and there’s likely more to come.
Everton, Newcastle and others have benefitted from a tax change in Spain. Whereas previously a player could be subject to income tax nudging 50% if given the clause by the buying club, now it’s nothing.
Selling clubs, especially Club Athletic Bilbao, used this threat as protection, and to scare of potential purchasers.
Rules on VAT means that a player paying his clause is now the form of transfer with the least tax burden. That’s why more transfers of this type are happening this summer, and why more are expected.
Everton probably would have signed Sandro anyway, given how low his clause was, coming to an agreement with Malaga to avoid the tax danger. Alternatively, Newcastle may not have thought it worth the effort to pursue Lejeune under the old rules.
Whilst it was possible to navigate the old system, as Manchester United did when purchasing Ander Herrera, it was also very complicated, as the same club found out when trying to sign Herrera the summer before they actually managed it.
It’s this situation which makes Neymar’s exit remotely possible, and is encouraging clubs to consider transfers they previously would have avoided.
A big book of Spanish players and their release clauses is now overdue.