European soccer transfer market explained

It is that time of year again when the European transfer market is in full swing. While Lionel Messi has just signed a deal with Inter Miami, Inter Milan and Chelsea are still negotiating over Romelu Lukaku's professional future. But how does this transfer market work? And who sets the price for a player?

A transfer is a term mainly used in professional soccer. It means that a soccer player or goalkeeper goes to another club, a decision not only made by the player. It is also up to the clubs who negotiate with the player to come to an agreement.

This agreement comes with a price tag: a financial fee for the new club to compensate the old one. Unless the player is a free agent. In this case, the player's contract expires at the end of the season, and he is free to join another club.

Bosman ruling

The freedom to transfer at the end of a contract was introduced in 1995 following the Bosman ruling by the European Court of Justice. The ruling concerned Belgian footballer Jean-Marc Bosman, who claimed his freedom when his contract with Club Liege expired in 1990. Before the ruling, a buy-out fee had to be paid when a player moved to another club at the end of a contract.

And then there are the transfer windows, during which players can change clubs. European football has a transfer window from 1 January to 31 January and from 1 July to 31 August. At all other times, players cannot change clubs directly.

Player on loan

A player already on loan to a club can always sign a new contract or be temporarily recalled in some leagues. Other players who sign a contract can only use one date in the transfer window as the effective date.

The transfer deadline is when the transfer window closes: midnight CEST on 31 January and 31 August. This means there is still plenty of room for negotiation in the transfer market over the coming weeks.




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