The transfer window: what is it? When is it? How do transfers actually work?

As soon as the club football season comes to an end, everyone’s attention quickly turns to the upcoming transfer window.

The Summer Market allows managers to sign new players and sell squad members they deem surplus to the requirements of the previous campaign.

Fans eagerly anticipate what business their beloved team will achieve, while senior club officials spend their time poring over the finances of a buy or sell.

But how does the transfer window actually work and how do players moving teams in football differ from how it happens in other sports around the world?

Athleticism answered these questions and more…


What is the transfer window?

A transfer window allows football clubs to buy and sell players for a set period each year.

The main takes place during the summer, at the end of the club season in most European nations, and normally lasts around two and a half months. Windows normally open in June and close just before the start of the next campaign or at the start of this one. Premier League clubs voted to ensure it was closed before a next season game was played in 2018 but later reversed that decision in 2020.

There is also a winter window, beginning in early January, which lasts for one month.

The summer period for player swaps tends to be when clubs make strategic signings, while the nature of January, towards the middle of many clubs’ seasons, means it has a more reactive element.

For example, teams normally make winter window signings to replace injured players, to try to extricate themselves from a relegation slump or to capitalize on a strong start and push for a higher league finish and/or trophies.

When does it open and close?

The Premier League’s summer transfer window will open this year on Friday June 10 and end at 11 p.m. on Thursday September 1.


The summer transfer window isn’t open yet, but Manchester City have already announced a deal to sign Erling Haaland from Borussia Dortmund. (Photo: Alexandre Simoes/Borussia Dortmund via Getty Images)

Does this mean that no transfer takes place until then?

Clubs can agree transfers before June 10, but they won’t become official – and the player concerned won’t be able to join their new team – until the window opens.

Players who find themselves out of work can sign for a club at any time of the year, while a special waiver can be granted to clubs if they need to acquire a player urgently.

Common examples of this are when their senior goalkeepers are injured and a new one is needed. That happened at Southampton in December, when Alex McCarthy and Fraser Forster were both sidelined, allowing former Chelsea goalkeeper Willy Caballero to join ahead of January.

Basically, how do transfer fees work?

A transfer fee is essentially financial compensation.

Since the selling club owns the player’s contractual playing rights, it is up to the buying club to negotiate a fee to purchase those playing rights.

What are the stages of a transfer?

Although talks have likely taken place between clubs and intermediaries long before any moves are complete, the first step that gets the ball rolling is for the buying team to agree a fee with the selling club.

Once this has happened, the player is allowed to speak to the buying club to work out personal terms and, if done, undergo a medical examination. When these two boxes are checked, the transfer is generally confirmed by both teams.

When do clubs start negotiating deals?

Football clubs are normally in talks with agents and other intermediaries throughout the year, lining up potential targets.

Those initial conversations — those with the next summer in mind — tend to start in September and October, before everyone’s attention shifts to the winter window looming in November and December.

Once January is over, the focus shifts back to summer. But it will take until the end of the European season, in May or early June, for the months of planning and discussions to come to fruition.

This was evident when Manchester City recently activated a release clause in Norwegian striker Erling Haaland’s contract at German club Borussia Dortmund. This is the result of several months of discussions with the player and his representatives.

How does this compare to the system in other sports?

The American National Football League (NFL) and the National Basketball Association (NBA), for example, have a different system than what we are used to in football.

For starters, there are no transfer fees when players change clubs in the NFL and NBA, but teams can offer picks in the annual college-level power system graduating player draft, for which there is no equivalent in football with its pyramid system. divisions, as payment if they want to sign a player who is under contract with another franchise. Swap deals, rare in football, are common, with clubs swapping one player for another of similar quality, for several players of lesser quality, or for a set of players and draft picks.

There is a free agent market, like in football, that allows teams to sign players out of contract after the season is over, but teams are not allowed to execute such trades until March in the case of the NFL, after the Super Bowl at midday. -February, and the NBA Finals in June.

How is the transfer system different in MLS?

For teams in MLS to get the most non-MLS players, the player must be on the team’s “Discovery List”. If the player has already been listed by another MLS club, the interested team must pay the remaining $50,000 in General Allocation Money (GAM) – an intra-MLS transaction fund – to acquire him.

A player’s transfer/loan fee is added to salaries to determine its impact on a team’s league-mandated salary budget ($4.9 million in 2022). There are many mechanisms by which teams can spend well over their budget, with the Designated Player rule being the best known.

MLS has two transfer windows. The “primary” takes place during the league’s winter off-season and in the first weeks of the league in the spring. The “secondary” window occurs during the season and runs from July 7 to August 4 of this year.

Don’t the players have a say in their future?

As their signature is required on the contract, players finally have the final world they want to play on.

Clubs work closely with intermediaries when selling or buying players, and if each has done their job correctly, the player shouldn’t be surprised where they go.

If an agent, for example, has several clubs interested in a client, then they will review each together and discuss which option is best, how much the teams are willing to pay and other factors they feel are relevant. take into account.


Kylian Mbappe has signed a new contract with Paris Saint-Germain rather than leaving this summer as a free agent (Picture: Gao Jing/Xinhua via Getty Images)

What are the best possible transfers of the summer?

Haaland has already completed his transfer to Premier League champions City, and fellow striker Kylian Mbappe opted to stay at Paris Saint-Germain rather than join Real Madrid, a decision widely anticipated, as a free agent when his contract with PSG expired this summer.

It will be tough for both of these deals to be beaten over the next few months, but the free agent market is thriving and possibly at its strongest point yet as it allows players to demand signing fees. high as there are no transfer fees involved. by acquiring them.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba, Barcelona’s Ousmane Dembele, Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale, Juventus’ Paulo Dybala and Atletico Madrid’s Luis Suarez are all out of contract this summer and will be looking for new teams.

A developing situation to watch is Barcelona’s pursuit of Bayern Munich star striker Robert Lewandowski. The Polish international would like to join the Catalan club, but Bayern are reluctant to sell.

Lewandowski has now confirmed that he wants to leave Bayern this summer. His contract expires after next season, so Bayern must choose between selling now and using that money to buy a replacement, and potentially losing one of the best players in the modern game for nothing this time next year.

Is this system used in world football?

World governing body FIFA’s regulations establish two annual periods (transfer windows) in which clubs can buy and sell players.

The exact timings for these, however, are set by each country’s football associations, with not all domestic seasons running on the same schedule.

For example, the Premier League’s winter window closed this year on January 31, while the Turkish Super Lig’s remained open until February 8.

This means Turkish clubs could potentially buy players from the English top flight during this week, while Premier League sides would not have been able to replace them as the window had already closed.

(Photo by Robert Lewandowski: Ronny Hartmann/AFP via Getty Images)

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