This is Part 1 of my mini-series on the Wacky World of Transfers in which I cover Perspective and Basic Transfers. Over the next two days, watch for Part 2 which covers Complications and Arsenal in the Transfer Window and Part 3 in which I cover Sources and What to Watch Out For. Youknowit – OG
I am not ITK. Let’s get that out of the way early. Further, this blog will not tell you who Arsenal or anyone else will be signing this window (or any others). I’m not even going to talk about whom we’re linked with…and I’m not ITK. Did I cover that already? Good.
I do, however, really love the transfer window. Is this completely irrational? Yes. Is this completely irrational given I’m an Arsenal fan? Absolutely.
I recognize that for many of you, this blog will not even remotely interest you. That is, quite simply, down to the fact that when it comes to transfers, there are two distinct groups – those who would rather live in Stoke than talk about M’Vila’s latest medical; and those, like me, that cannot be pried away from the car crash that is a last minute loan deal for an aging Swedish international with a broken back.
We are all a bunch of transfer window lickers.
Ah the pageantry of the transfer window – from failed medicals to players driving around the outside of training grounds hoping to get a deal – I follow it like an ADD puppy chasing a laser pointer. I’ve been in the symbolic helicopter that has made the trek from Liverpool to London, I’ve virtually interviewed countless players as they’ve come off the pitch at the end of the season to declare they’re on their way to the Emirates, and I’ve gone through every painstaking medical where they’ve discovered that my knees are made up of sawdust and bubblegum.
Over the last 4-5 years, I’ve slowly built up a little experience in reading between the lines – spotting the agent talk from the possible real deals. I’m still pretty rubbish at it if I’m honest but over the next three days, I’m going to share my knowledge.
Here’s the caveat: this is not a manual or set of instructions. Every transfer is different. I’ll try not to use words like “always” and “never” but no guarantees. I’ll explain if I think it is a hard and fast rule versus a guideline and more than likely there will be holes in what I tell you – but hey, nothing a beer and a high five can’t fix – right?
Let’s start with perspective. Like it or not, expectations are important and can greatly influence how you feel about the transfer window come February 1st. I regularly bounce between knowingly getting caught up in the fantasy rumours and staying heavily grounded in the we’re only bringing in a one legged leper teenager from Crisakhastan.
The basis of staying sane though, is to not expect anything. Don’t expect a single signing. Nothing. Don’t listen to Ivan Gazidis or Sir Chips saying that we can afford Messi if we want him, don’t listen to the endless journalists linking us to everyone under the sun, and for goodness sake, DO NOT listen to anyone on Twitter. If you operate under the basic principle that we aren’t buying a single player, linked or not, then things begin to become a bit clearer. You no longer think with your heart, which is dangerous in these matters, and you begin to see things for what they are – which is more than likely completely manufactured BS.
We’ve all heard the saying, “when something is too good to be true.” In the matter of Arsenal and transfers – this is the best guideline to follow (Özil and Sánchez the obvious exceptions). Here is a hard and fast rule, which is cliché but relevant and true:
Don’t believe a transfer is true until you see it on [Arsenal] dot com.
Inner Workings of a Transfer:
Have I base lined your expectations? Good.
Next let’s tackle how a transfer works at its most basic level. Remember that they are extremely complicated things and so to explain it as I do below, is to do them disservice. As with anything that concerns millions of pounds, there are a lot of ways around how this works in theory versus how it works in reality. Loans, buying and selling from rivals, Bosmans, player swaps, and third party ownership only muddy the already sullied waters.
ESPN FC put together this excellent explanation via interactive infographic if you prefer reading it instead.
1. Once a player has been identified, the buying club is supposed to ask the selling club before engaging the player and his agent. Because of this rule, buying clubs will often use a third party intermediary to reach out to the player and agent to find out if there is any interest on their part to join. If the buying club gets caught doing this, this is called tapping up and the club can face repercussions.
2. Once the buying club knows there could be a deal, they’ll contact the selling club to start negotiations. This is where transfer fees, agent fees, and negotiation with the player on wages and length of contract happen. If the deal collapses, it is usually due to money – either inflated wage demands, a change in transfer fee asked by the selling club (see Real Madrid and Higuaín), or another club bidding.
a. It is important to understand that there are three parties that have to agree at this point: the buying club, the selling club, and the player. No deal can happen without agreement from all three.
3. Once the deal is thrashed out, the player has a medical and once passed, he’ll sign for the club. In Arsenal’s case, they’ll usually still be operating under the umbrella of secrecy while they put together the promo pictures, press release, and dot com information.
So wraps Part 1 of my mini-series on transfers. I hope you’ve enjoyed and be sure to tune in over the next few days for Parts 2 and 3 which looks at Complications, Arsenal in the Transfer Window, Sources, and What to Watch Out For.
You know it!
The Other Geoff
Other Geoff is the ‘#ABW Chief Blogger’ and can be found on Twitter here: @Hollefreund.