A Beginner’s Guide to the Transfer Window
In world football there are two periods of time called transfer windows every year where a player can transfer to a different club. There are two transfer windows during the year: January 1 through January 31st and July 1 through August 31. Here’s how transfers work: during the transfer window, teams will offer a transfer fee to a club JUST to be able to sign and have rights to their player. If the team accepts then the purchasing team will negotiate a contract with the player directly. So agreed transfer fee with club + agreed contract with the player = transfer complete.
1. Is there free agency?
In a sense, yes, but it is rare. If a club lets a player’s contract expire, the player is free to negotiate a new contract with a different club without a transfer fee first, you can thank Jean-Marc Bosman for that, (look it up). For example: Schalke let Joel Matip's contract expire, so Liverpool didn't have to pay Schalke any money to get Matip, we just called him for free, and negotiated his salary. (Klopp's a genius). The other scenario for free agency happens if a club tries to sell a player to a club that the player does not want to play for. The player can refuse the contract, let their contract expire, and sign with another team freely. Basically teams want to make money, so its rare for them to let a contract expire for any reason without selling a player first to make transfer fee money.
2. Are there trades?
There aren't really straight up trades, but sometimes club will offer a player + money to appease a clubs transfer fee.
3. What about loans?
Loans are a completely new concept if you are an American sports fan. They come in many shapes and sizes but here is the gist of it: A team can send a player to another team to develop. We have this with many American sports with baseball’s minor leagues and the NBA D-League but here is where it’s different: loans not only take place from upper leagues to lower leagues, but loans also take place within the same league.
If there is a player that shows promise, but needs further development a club can send them to another team in the same league to get game time and experience. Loans are typically do not cost a transfer fee, only for the club receiving the loanee to pay their wages. These can last numerous different lengths and since they are not permanent so both clubs benefit. After the loan period is up, the player comes back to the team. Clubs sometimes will offer teams a buyout clause in a loan that basically says “You can have player for x amount of time for $, if you are pleased with him and would like to keep him you can pay us $$$$$$ and he’s all yours.” A team can only have a single loaned player from another club. So Jurgen Klopp could not send out all his great youth talent to newly promoted Huddersfield Town Manager and best friend David Wagner. They can only have one loanee from a specific team.
Another loan situation is the current situation that Liverpool is in with Mamadou Sakho. Sakho has fallen out of favor with Klopp but is quite skilled. During the transfer window Klopp puts the word out that he wants to sell Sakho, no one bites. So Klopp sends Sakho to Crystal Palace (same league) on loan until the next transfer window. The idea is that Sakho will get minutes, hopefully perform well, and then clubs around the world will be more keen to buy him next transfer window (because his stock isn’t going up sitting on the bench.)
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