Americans know that in sports, there is a widespread culture where players don’t have a final say in their destinies, with exceedingly rare exceptions.
However, it is a different story with European leagues and especially the Premier League, as players have some ways of forcing their way out of their clubs, even though there is no guaranteed route for getting there. Players changing allegiances, however, can significantly impact the Premier League scores at the end of the day.
We will now review some of the most common ways that players express their wills and have the final say over whether they will leave or remain in their current PL clubs.
Understanding the Basics Of a Premier League Transfer
It is crucial that we understand the basics of every aspect that surrounds a transfer in the football world. We start off with the periods in which transfers are allowed to happen in Europe.
These periods are referred to as windows. Clubs can sign new players twice a year, during pre-season and at mid-season. Pre-season transfer windows are often called summer windows, whereas the mid-season ones are referred to as winter windows.
For a Premier League club to sign a player, in theory, there should be interests – mutual or not – from a club in a player that belongs to another club.
The targeted player is linked to his current club through a formal contract that involves important aspects of the club-player relationship. These items range from the player’s wages to the period in which the player will remain in that club.
With that said, there are some extra clauses that exist to suit the players’ will over a possible future transfer. One of the most famous clauses is the buy-out one. To understand this clause in the PL, think about a player who signed a contract with Sheffield United until 2024.
On paper, this player will remain on the books for the Blades until the aforementioned year. However, there could be a buy-out clause in his contract explicitly stating that if an offer matches or surpasses the amount of £20 million, this player could leave Sheffield before the end of his contract.
To make things safer for themselves, clubs will always try to inflate players’ buy-out clauses’ values as much as they can. They do this once they sign players whom they have no intention of transferring to other clubs.
A recent example of that is the Lionel Messi saga last summer. The Argentine tried to force his departure out of Barcelona. However, his release clause was almost £600M, which is an insane amount of money that not even Manchester City could cover.
With that said, there is no legal way a player can force his way out of a club if the offer does not sound good to the club that owns his rights. However, players can still try to play their last cards by handing in transfer requests.
Premier League players can in fact try to force their way out of their clubs in the league. Whether their intended destination is another PL club or any other European league, there is always the possibility of handing in a transfer request.
Although this is not a guaranteed way of leaving a PL club, the player is literally saying that he doesn’t want to play for his current club anymore.
Transfer requests are a double-edged sword. It is likely that the player will get what he wants at the end of the day, as it’s not in the club’s best interests to keep unsatisfied players on their squads. However, the price the player will pay in terms of damage to his reputation can be something that he isn’t actually ready to handle.
The most recent example of that was the Philippe Coutinho departure from Liverpool back in 2018. The number 10 was constantly flirting with a La Liga move to his European childhood club, Barcelona.
The Reds turned down multiple offers from the Catalans, in a clear attempt to send a message to both Barca and the Brazilian player that the Merseyside club had no intentions of selling their then-most-important player.
Coutinho’s last option was to hand in a formal transfer request to Liverpool, which, after discussing the situation privately with German manager Jurgen Klopp, decided that they were left with no other option but to sell the Brazilian for about £150M.
The Brazilian got his desired move to Barcelona, but it turned out it wasn’t the best idea for his career. He ended up being a flop signing, disliked by both Liverpool and Barcelona supporters.
For Liverpool, though, it was a great deal, as they used the Coutinho transfer money to buy Virgil van Dijk and Alisson Becker, who ended up being key players for winning the Champions League and other trophies, as well as the team’s long-waited top-spot finish last season.
Throughout the text, we’ve seen that although players have some ways of trying to push for a departure through transfer requests, clubs have the priority via the contract to which both sides agreed. Obviously, a club can try to keep the player against his will, but it should be a calculated move, involving club-player talks, and even financial compensation so as not to ruin the relationship between the parties.