In case it wasn’t already clear, the £23 million ( $35.8m) release clause reportedly inserted into Marouane Fellaini’s contract is a complete joke.
The clause was inserted into the deal that Fellaini penned with Everton in November 2011 when the Belgian dynamo signed a five year extension with the club. At the time it was a huge coup for the Toffees, as Fellaini had been linked with numerous high-profile moves away from Goodison Park.
“We are delighted to have secured the services of Marouane for the long term,” Everton’s chief executive Robert Elstone said. “Marouane has been a hugely influential player for Everton since his arrival in 2008 and we hope that remains to be the case for the next five years.”
Fast forward a year and a half and it’s clear that Elstone’s wish isn’t coming true as it’s widely accepted that Fellaini will be moving on to a bigger club this summer. And the main reason why? Big clubs are foaming at the mouth to pounce on that ridiculous £23 million release clause.
It’s unclear who negotiated that number on behalf of Everton, but whoever it was – YOU’RE FIRED.
How £23 million sounded like a good deal for the Everton board is beyond me. At the time of the re-up Fellaini was the perfect age for a developing talent (23 years old), freakishly large (6’5″ and 190 lbs), and a proven Premier League game-changer in both the striker role (where he had starred in 2008-09 scoring 8 goals on 52 shots) and the holding midfield position (where he decimated everything in his path).
So why did Everton agree to let big clubs trigger Fellaini’s release for such a measly fee?
It’s totally non-sensical.
When Everton bought Fellaini from Standard Liege in 2008 they paid a semi-hefty £15 million for his services. In other words after spending three years grooming Fellaini into a world class player – and groom they did as Fellaini entered the league a hot mess of pointy elbows and knobby knees – Everton was content to re-sign him knowing that when they would eventually be selling him for an £8 million profit.
An £8 million profit? For Fellaini?
If that kind of business was negotiated at Arsenal there would be outrage. Pandemonium. Anarchy. But at Everton, no one raised an eyebrow.
But why not? A quick look at the deals going down for strikers and holding midfielders in and around 2011 proves Everton definitely undervalued Fellaini’s worth:
- In 2005, Chelsea bought a 22 year old Michael Essein from Lyon for £26 million.
- In 2007, Manchester United purchased a 19 year old Anderson from Porto for £25.7 million.
- In 2009, Liverpool sold a 27 year old Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid for £30 million.
- In 2011, Newcastle sold a 22 year old Andy Carroll to Liverpool for £36 million.
- In 2011, Liverpool sold a 26 year old Fernando Torres to Chelsea for £50 million.
- In 2011, Arsenal sold a 24 year old Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona for £35 million.
- In 2012, Tottenham sold a 26 year old Luka Modric to Real Madrid for a £33 million.
And while I recognize that comparing certain players’ transfer values with others is never an exact science, it’s relatively clear that Everton could have fetched £27-35 million for Fellaini’s transfer.
Point being, in an age where it’s common for clubs to set over-ambitious release clauses (Porto’s £84 million release clause for Hulk comes to mind), setting Fellaini’s exit clause at £23 million was a travesty.
If Everton haven’t recognize that yet, they will soon.