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Thursday Cannon Fodder: a transfer refresher

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Chelsea FC Training Session and Press Conference - UEFA Champions League Final 2021 Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

In light of some of the comments on the site and the engagement on TSF twitter yesterday, it feels like a refresher on transfers is necessary. So without further ado: magnets transfers, how do they work?

To have a transfer you need several things: a willing buyer, a willing seller, and a price that is agreeable to both parties.

A club can want to sell a player ten times over, but if nobody is bidding, he or she isn’t going anywhere. This is what is currently happening with Alexandre Lacazette. Yes, it would be great if Arsenal could sell him and make some money to help fund other transfers. But the market for a 30-year old, somewhat physically limited striker is virtually non-existent. So for all of you out there asking, “why don’t Arsenal sell Lacazette?!” I can assure you: Edu is trying but nobody really wants him.

The flip side of that is you (a football club) can want / desire / adore / pursue / covet another club’s player until the cows come home, but if the other guys don’t want to sell said player, you aren’t getting him or her. Yesterday, I discovered that a number of people on Arsenal Twitter would prefer Dominic Calvert-Lewin to Tammy Abraham. Abraham has been linked with a loan + obligation to buy with Arsenal. Dominic Calvert-Lewin is an Everton player who, as far as I can tell, is not for sale. Arsenal don’t have a choice between the two. This isn’t Football Manager where you can ring any club about any player and if you offer them enough money, they’ll sell.

We’re often fond of saying “every player has a price” and to an extent, that’s true. But there are also players that clubs simply aren’t willing to sell. Or players they’re not going to sell unless somebody offers an absurd (literally) sum of money. Basically, the player is worth more to the club in their lineup than any amount another club would logically pay.

Which brings us to our last necessary criteria for a transfer: price. If the clubs don’t (or can’t through negotiation) agree on a number, you don’t have a deal. This is (hopefully, fingers crossed, please Arsenal be smart) what is happening with Aaron Ramsdale. Sheffield United want 30M. He’s not “worth” that much. The Blades may very well want to sell him, and I think Arsenal might want to buy him. But if they can’t find a number they’re both happy with, Ramsdale is staying up north.

Today’s lesson was “Transfer 101” if you will. It doesn’t cover a host of other complicating factors like add-ones, agent fees, third party ownership, etc. There is a whole mess of stuff out there that can complicate and stand in the way of a transfer. Just ask Luis Suarez about the Italian language test.

But basically, this is an entire post worth of words to say that too many people talk about the transfer market as if it’s FIFA [whatever year]. It isn’t and it doesn’t work like that.