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How Football Transfers Work: Understanding the Basics


Understanding how football transfers work is an important aspect of the game that any fan should know. If you’ve been wondering how players move from one club to another, this article is for you. The transfer window is one of the most exciting events in football. Rumors, news and updates constantly emerge from credible journalists, rumor mills, fans and, at times, player’s agents. 

The amount of money changing hands is fascinating to see, as the prices of players and their wages keep rising. That said, how does your club make the dream signing happen? In this article, we give you all the details.

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How Does a Football Transfer Work in Football?

A football transfer happens when two clubs agree on a fee for a player, and the player, in turn, agrees on a deal with the buying club.

For a transfer to happen, a club can notify a player that he or she won’t get a contract renewal and has to find a new team. In this case, the player is granted permission to talk to other clubs and does so through their agent or advisors.

Once they find a suitable team, they can begin negotiations on salary, bonuses, contract length and other clauses. The buying club and selling club have to agree on a fee. Once all parties reach a deal, the player moves pending medical tests, work permit if applicable and other checks.

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Player Tapping

Some transfers begin with illegal approaches like “tapping”. Tapping involves a club approaching a player without legal consent from their current employer. This can be through a player’s agent going behind the club’s back and initiating contact. 

Also, managers expressing their admiration for a player in the media insinuating a player is a good fit is another form of player tapping. This practice is illegal and can attract hefty fines. 

English Premier League side Liverpool were fined £100,000 and a two-year ban from bringing in academy players after a guilty verdict of luring a young player from Stoke City.

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Transfer Window

Transfer Window System explained. Video Credit: Tifo Football

If you’re an avid football fan, you’ve heard the phrase ‘Transfer Window’. This is a period when clubs are allowed to buy players. 

There are two transfer windows in the summer after the season is complete. This registration period starts in June and closes on September 1. The other transfer period is in January, in the middle of the season. The 2024 window opens from January 1 to February 1. 

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Transfer Request

When a player wants to leave their current club but the club doesn’t want to sell the player, he or she can issue a transfer request. 

It’s a way for a player to force his or her way out and is signalling to interested clubs that they’re interested in moving. Clubs can overrule this request and keep the player

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However, they sometimes do this at their peril, as a dissatisfied player can influence the team for the worse.

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Football Agent

One of the most significant people in a football transfer is an agent. They are the intermediary between a player and a club and represent the player’s interests. 

During a transfer, they work to secure the best possible deal and, thus, should understand the legal aspects of contract negotiations. 

They charge a fee for their work, and the bigger your portfolio, the more in-demand an agent can be. 

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Most Expensive Transfer

Neymar football transfer explained. Video Credit: Tifo Football

As of January 2024, Neymar from Barcelona transfer to Paris Saint Germain (PSG) has been the most expensive. This happened in 2017. PSG paid $243 million for the services of the Brazilian player. Neymar played in the French capital for six years before he moved to the Saudi Pro League in August 2023 for a $98 million deal.  

The second most expensive transfer is that of French star Kylian Mbappe. He moved to PSG from Monaco on a $197 million fee. Mbappe still plays for the French club but has been linked to the Spanish side of Real Madrid several times.

That’s how football transfers work. It’s not a straightforward process of buying and selling. There’s more to work around to ensure that the parties involved don’t breach any legal rules. Also, they all need to agree to have a clean transaction that suits everyone. 

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