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Soccer Transfers Explained

What is a transfer in Soccer?

A soccer transfer is the to the process where a player leaves one club to join another club. Often, a fee is involved which a club pays in order to secure the services of a particular player.

In soccer, players often change teams for a number of reasons. Sometimes this is based around a financial decision, i.e. a player is offered more money to play for a different club. However, players often feel they need a new challenge in their career.

Transfers also need to work from the club’s perspective. In some cases, clubs have to offload their best players if they experience financial hardship in order to fund running costs for their club. A manager, owner or scout for a club may also identify a particular player who could improve their squad who they want to transfer in. Younger players are sometimes brought and sold regularly. Teenage players with plenty of potential are often seen as a long-term investment for a football club.

How a Transfer Works

There are certain procedures which need to be followed in transfers between clubs. Every professional player in World football has a specific valuation based on their recent performances. A player’s age and the price of any previous transfers also determines their valuation.

This valuation plays a part in the negotiation process between buying clubs and selling clubs before a transfer takes place. Once a potential signing has been identified by buying club, any opening bid is made which the selling club can reject if it does not match their valuation. A rejected bid leaves the buying club with two options. They can either return with a higher bid or withdraw from negotiations and focus on another target player.

If a bid is accepted by the buying club, personal negotiations commence between the player, their agent and their new club. If all goes smoothly, terms will be agreed, the player will sign a contract and join the new club.

However, contract negotiations can sometimes be the most difficult part of the process. If clubs and players can’t agree on a suitable contract, then a transfer will collapse. When this happens, the player simply remains at their current club and the buying club will have to move on to a new target.

(Source: https://www.upstart.net.au/how-does-a-football-transfer-work/ )

Underhand Tactics

Transfers can be conducted outside of moral lines. In the past with agents, club owners and even managers ‘tapping up’ players to join their team. This act is against the Premier League rules which state that players must have written consent from the club they are currently contracted to before speaking to a potential buying club.

Occasionally, a player may become unsettled at a club if the team is underperforming or if a player is performing particularly well and wants to move to a bigger club. Buying clubs have been known to take advantage of such situations in the past.

Clubs with larger reputations are more notorious for these underhand tactics. Liverpool, for example, reportedly approached star defender Virgil Van Dijk directly in 2017 whilst he was playing for Southampton. This was done without Southampton knowing and eventually led to the Dutch player leaving and joining Liverpool.

Barcelona too has ‘tapped up’ in the past. In 2014, club president Josep Maria Bartomeu spoke to striker Luiz Suarez about his credentials perfectly suiting Barcelona’s squad, even though Suarez was still playing for Liverpool. The process worked in Barca’s favour and Suarez joined Barcelona later that year.

Deadline Day

The process of players moving between clubs has become one of the most exciting, and in some cases frustrating, elements of modern football.

Throughout the football season, there are two transfer windows. One takes place in summer (which usually closes the start of September). The other is in winter (which closes at the end of January). These dates are known as ‘Deadline Day’.

Transfer Deadline Day is a date in every football fan’s diary. This bi-annual event marks the final day when players can be bought or sold in the top-level of European football. It is usually one of the most entertaining off field spectacles of the football season.

Many transfers take place on the final day of the transfer window. Certain clubs may want to get rid of a particular player, a player may want to leave their current team or clubs are looking to sign players at a cut-down price with the hope a selling team becomes desperate to offload players.

A lot of speculation ensues about who is moving where and who is willing to sell etc. throughout the day. Often, deals are struck in the final hours, or even minutes, of the window.

Some of the highest-profile deadline day transfers include Wayne Rooney moving from Everton to Manchester United in 2004 for £20 million. Mesut Ozil joined Arsenal from Real Madrid in the final hours of 2013 for £42.5 million. Full-back Ashley Cole controversially moved from Arsenal to London rivals Chelsea, in 2006 for £5 million.

Biggest Transfers in History

At the top level of soccer, particularly in Europe’s big leagues, transfer fees paid for players can be astronomical.

The largest fee ever for a player was a whopping €222m which Paris St Germain paid Barcelona for Brazilian star Neymar in 2017.

Other huge sums include, 145 million (plus an additional €35 in future fees) for French forward Kylian Mbappe, who moved from AS Monaco to Paris St Germain – also in 2017. Spanish side Atletico Madrid paid €126 million to Benfica for Joao Felix in 2019 and both Phillipe Coutinho and Antoine Griezmann cost Barcelona €120 in 2018 and 2019 respectively.