The season is nearly over, but for football clubs, the summer is just as busy. The transfer window is about to open. In partnership with Media City Qatar.
Approaching the end of another action-packed football season can only mean one thing: the summer transfer window is about to open.
Football clubs have two transfer windows per season: one from July to August and another in January.
But that doesn't stop the constant flow of rumours throughout the year. For some fans, knowing which players their club will sign next is just as important as the on-pitch results.
Jonathan Johnson, soccer correspondent for CBS Sports, explains, "Fans have a desire to know what's happening at their club on a day-to-day basis. This demand has grown to the point where there's a lot of pressure on people to provide scoops. Transfers have become a measure of success, alongside on-pitch performance. If your club beats a rival to sign a certain player, it comes with the prestige of having spent more money than someone else."
There are two common types of transfers in football. First, when a player's contract with their current club expires, they become a free agent and can join any club without a transfer fee. This is appealing to potential suitors. Second, there are blockbuster transfers where clubs pay a significant amount to release a player from their contract. Some players, especially young stars, have a "release clause" in their contract, which allows negotiation of personal terms if a bid meets a specific sum.
Once a transfer fee and personal contract are agreed upon, the player undergoes a medical examination to ensure they are physically fit to play for their new club. After completion, the player signs the contract, and the club unveils their new signing to the world.
In the past five years, we have witnessed exorbitant transfer fees, leading to an inflation of the transfer market compared to a decade ago. In 2016, Manchester United signed midfielder Paul Pogba for a then-world record €90 million fee, only for him to leave the club for free in 2022 after an unsatisfactory stint. Just a year later, PSG shattered that transfer fee record by acquiring Brazil's poster boy, Neymar, for €222 million, igniting a frenzy in the market.
This summer, we anticipate more high-value transfers as several players seem poised to change clubs. Among these transfers is the future of Lionel Messi, possibly the greatest player of all time. After playing for PSG for the past two seasons following his move from Barcelona in 2021 due to financial troubles at the Spanish club, Messi's contract is expiring, indicating an imminent move. The rumours suggest a return to Barcelona, but there's also talk of a lucrative move to the Middle East, with Saudi Arabian side Al-Hilal reportedly offering €400 million per season.
"There is a queue for Messi's signature, as expected," Johnson commented. "But I don't think we'll receive a definitive decision from him at this moment. I believe he'll take his time with this choice."
At the beginning of 2023, Messi's arch-rival from his Barcelona days, Cristiano Ronaldo, made a move to Saudi side Al-Nassr. A move to the Middle East would reunite Messi and Ronaldo, allowing them to face off for what could likely be the last time in their careers.
From legends of the game to emerging young stars, another highly sought-after player this summer is Jude Bellingham. The outstanding performance of the player at Borussia Dortmund since his move to Germany in 2020 has drawn the attention of numerous clubs across Europe, and now some of the biggest names in football are vying for his signature.
While he was strongly linked with Premier League clubs Liverpool and Manchester City, the latest reports indicate that he has decided to join Real Madrid as his next destination. This will undoubtedly place a significant amount of pressure on a player who is only 19 years old. However, considering the ageing midfield players at Madrid, it appears to be an opportune time for Bellingham to join the team.
Ruairidh Barlow, editor of Football España, revealed, "From Real Madrid's perspective, it's an obvious choice. The intriguing aspect will be how Bellingham adapts from playing in the Bundesliga, where he typically enjoys a lot of space in midfield, to La Liga, where he will encounter deep-lying defences. Can he break through the pressure and make forward runs as he does in Germany? A different skill set is required to dismantle defences in Spain."
The upcoming summer transfer market promises to be captivating as clubs all over Europe prepare for the 2023/24 season. Where will Messi, Bellingham, and countless other top prospects on the continent end up?