Back in the day, footballers’ contract negotiations were a straightforward process: the player would meet the club chairman, they’d thrash out an acceptable salary, put pen to paper, and the player would trot off back to the pub to celebrate with a pint or 10.
They’re a very different beast altogether these days, however. Negotiations have to be concluded with countless third parties – sometimes including the player’s family – and agreements sought to cover wages, sponsorships, image rights and more.
Sometimes, though, solely earning vast sums of money just isn’t persuasive enough for a player to sign. Sometimes a little something extra is needed to help grease the wheels of negotiation, and get a deal over the line. And quite often that special something tends to be somewhat unconventional.
From tractors to sunbeds and everything in between, we’ve rounded up seven of football’s strangest contract signing-on requests below…
Before becoming the world’s most famous jailed passport fraud, Ronaldinho actually used to play a bit of football. And he certainly knew how to make the most of his iconic status when it came to signing his bumper contracts.
Following his stellar career in Europe, Ronnie returned to Brazil in 2011 to join Flamengo. When doing so he had it written into his contract that he was permitted two nights out a week, no questions asked.
Then when arranging his 2014 move to Mexican outfit Querétaro, he demanded the club provided him with a house that came with four butlers, a beach football pitch, and a bog standard 7-a-side pitch. The club agreed, and Ronnie spent a happy year in Mexico – presumably spending most of his spare time playing football in his garden against said butlers.
2. MOISE KEAN
Everton’s big money flop has hit the headlines for all the wrong reasons recently during the country’s lockdown, but he’s no stranger to controversy. Specifically the controversy caused by his father regarding a very bizarre contract dispute with his old club, Juventus.
During negotiations for his son’s first professional deal in Turin, Biorou Kean demanded Juve buy him a fleet of tractors for his farms back home in the Ivory Coast – otherwise he threatened to ensure Moise would run down his current contract and leave on a free.
Officials at Juventus allegedly agreed, before later reneging and agreeing a new deal with Moise without his father’s involvement – much to Biorou’s anger.
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3. GIANLUIGI DONNARUMMA
Even at the age of 21, “the new Buffon” is well on the way to becoming an all-time Italian legend – not least in the eyes of his very grateful brother. That’s because when Gianluigi signed his new contract with AC Milan in 2017, he demanded the club sign his older brother as third-choice keeper as part of the arrangement.
The Rossoneri agreed, and Antonio Donnarumma (above) was promptly plucked from Greek side Asteras Tripolis for £1m to sit on the bench and watch his brother do the business on the pitch. Antonio has gone on to make just two cup appearances in three years.
4. ROLF-CHRISTEL GUIE-MIEN
You may not have heard of this particular Congolese midfielder, but you probably will remember his name once you discover what it took for his 1999 transfer from Karlsruher SC to Eintracht Frankfurt to go through.
It’s understood that during the tense negotiations, Guié-Mien stated he would only sign if it was contractually agreed his wife would receive cooking lessons paid for by the club. Suffice to say the move went through, although we’ve no idea how offended his significant other was by the request.
The Ivorian winger is best remembered for his dodgy two-year spell at Arsenal, during which you’d be forgiven for thinking he had a contract clause that meant he was obliged to miss open goals.
But during his 2016 transfer negotiations with Hebei China Fortune, Gervinho requested somewhere for his family to live in – specifically a mansion with its own private beach and helicopter. Although he ultimately got his way, wouldn’t it have been a wiser decision to ask for a hair transplant instead?
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6. PAUL GASCOIGNE
Throughout his career Gazza was widely known to enjoy playing a prank – and Spurs must have thought he was pulling their leg during negotiations to sign him back in 1988.
As part of an array of inducements to convince the midfielder to sign for the club ahead of Manchester United, Spurs agreed to buy Gazza’s dad his own house, along with a shiny new car to put in the garage.
Sensing their abundant generosity, Gazza made one final request ahead of signing his contract: that Spurs buy a sunbed for his sister. They agreed, and the deal eventually got over the (tan) line.
7. THOMAS VERMAELEN
Another former Gunner who knew how to make the most of his time at the negotiating table. During his inexplicable move to Barcelona in 2014, it’s reported that the Belgian centre-back demanded the insertion of a clause that saw him be paid £100,000 every time he was played out of position.
Fortunately for the club’s coffers, the physio’s room didn’t count – as that’s exactly where Vermaelen spent practically all of his five years at the club. Barcelona would have long gone broke if it had.
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