How Do Transfers Work in Soccer?

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In soccer, a transfer is a process by which a team sells a player to another club, allowing the new team to take ownership of the player’s rights. This involves the player ending their contract with their current team and signing a new one with the new club. Unlike in American sports, where trades involve the exchange of assets between teams, transfers usually only involve one player moving to a new team and negotiating a new contract. Players can refuse a transfer, and they have a lot of power during the transfer process.

Each soccer governing body under FIFA has different rules for how transfers must be completed. Generally, they are completed during the summer transfer window, usually in July and August. The selling team usually receives a transfer fee, which is split between the football club and the governing body. If a selling team doesn’t want to negotiate a transfer fee and wants to release a player without compensation, they can do so in a free transfer.

Most soccer leagues have similar rules for transfers, but some differences exist. For example, the English Premier League has a transfer window that lasts almost two months, between July and September. In La Liga, clubs have to make sure their transfers abide by a process called Control Económico, which ensures that each team in the league is financially stable. Major League Soccer has a designated salary budget, a limited amount of international roster spots, and changed the transfer fee for clubs looking to sell US-developed talent to international teams.

Player loans allow a team to send a player to play for another team while retaining their contracts and rights. The team acquiring the player may pay a loan fee to the original team for the right to use that player, and the club with the player on loan usually pays the player’s salary while employing them.

The most expensive transfer in soccer history was for Barcelona star Neymar, which cost Paris Saint-Germain €222 million. Forwards tend to get larger transfer fees than other positions since they are often the face of an organization. While transfers may seem similar to player trades, they require the player to terminate their old contract and sign a new one with their new club.