the most expensive transfer in soccer neymar
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What Is The Transfer Window In Soccer? (Beginner’s Guide)

With the summer rapidly arriving, I wanted to get another article out for my friends who may be new to soccer (or football). You may have heard of the term transfer window in regards to soccer and thought to yourself, “What is a transfer window in soccer? What does that even mean?” Even if you are a more experienced fan, you may have some questions and this post is here to help answer them! The summer is prime time for transfers and after this article, you’ll know why! So what is the transfer window in soccer? Let’s get started.

What Is A Transfer?

Great question! If you are a fan of major sports in the United States as I am, the concept of trading players is something we know about. For example, let’s say the Los Angeles Lakers want a player from the Golden State Warriors. For this example the Lakers want to trade LeBron James for Steph Curry. The teams agree to this trade and LeBron heads to Golden State, with Steph going to Los Angeles. (Thank goodness this will never happen!)

So is a transfer just a football/soccer word for trade? Sort of! A transfer is similar to a trade, however they are not the same. With most transfers, a team expresses interest in buying a player who is on a different team. The team with the player of interest, replies to the interested team with their price for the player. Sometimes, their reply isn’t even a price. They may simply inform the interested team that the player they asked to buy is not for sale. If they do reply with a price, a negotiation process usually begins. After a number is agreed upon (this is called the transfer fee), the clubs file paperwork with FIFA to make the transfer official. The player joins their new team and the money goes to their old team.

Example Time!

Just last summer, Juventus contacted Real Madrid about Cristiano Ronaldo. They were hoping to sign him. Now, Ronaldo is one of the best players of all time, so for Juventus to get him on their team, they would have to pay a massive amount. The clubs negotiated and agreed on a price of over 130 million dollars! Juventus sent the money to Real Madrid, and in return they signed Cristiano Ronaldo, one of the greatest players ever. If that price isn’t enough to make your head hurt, Ronaldo is not even the most expensive transfer of all time! The Brazilian winger Neymar joined PSG from Barcelona for over 250 MILLION DOLLARS!! As clubs continue to grow in wealth these transfer fees could just keep climbing.

We Know Transfers Now, But What’s A Transfer Window In Soccer?

Now that we have established what a transfer is, let’s unpack what the term “transfer window” means. To put it as simple as possible, a transfer window is the window of time in which transfers are allowed. Before 2002, clubs could transfer in players at all times of the year. This led to large amounts of instability and uncertainty for many players and teams. Both FIFA and the European Commission agreed that this was not a healthy situation. They began plans and negotiations to regulate the times of year when transfers would be allowed to happen.

The transfer window periods were put into place for the 2002-03 season. Transfers were only allowed to occur during those set periods of time. Negotiations between teams could happen outside of the transfer windows, but official prices and the players involved could not be registered until the next open window. This consistency is beneficial for us as football/soccer fans! When those transfer windows are open, we can dig for news to see who our team might sign. However, when they are closed we can focus on supporting our teams and enjoying the displays on the field.

So When Are Transfer Windows In Soccer?

Unfortunately, I cannot give you uniform dates for transfer windows. However, I can promise you all that there are two transfer windows a season. Many leagues have different transfer windows that occur around roughly similar times of year. I will do my best to give you rough guidelines because although every league may not have the exact same transfer windows, they are usually close! I will be sticking to the top five leagues in Europe, (England, Spain, Italy, Germany, France) as well as the MLS for my American readers.

Transfer Windows For The English Premier League

There are two transfer windows per year for every league in the world. For many of the big European leagues, they operate under roughly the same time schedule. However, their are some notable differences. In the English Premier League (EPL), the first transfer window happens in the preseason. The EPL goes from August to May, therefore, in the time when they do not have games from the middle of May to early August, their first transfer window occurs. The official dates of the preseason transfer window in the EPL is May 17 — August 9. Their second transfer window occurs midseason, in the winter time. This window runs from January 1 — 31.

Transfer Windows For The Italian Serie A

As I said earlier, the transfer windows for the major European leagues are very similar. As a matter of fact, La Liga (Spain), Ligue 1 (France), and Bundesliga (Germany) teams all operate under the same transfer window. The Serie A, just like the Premier League, likes to be a little different. Their preseason transfer window runs from June 1 — August 18, while their winter transfer window goes from January 3 — January 31. As you can see, the preseason windows are coming soon! In the case of the Premier League, the preseason window has already started! Has your favorite team signed anyone?

Transfer Windows For The German Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga, And French Ligue 1

I have to say, I very much appreciate these three leagues. They made it easy for all of us and put their transfer windows at the same times! Their preseason transfer windows run from June 1 — August 31. Simple right? The start of June to the end of August. Their winter transfer window runs from January 1 — February 2. Like I said, thank you to these three European leagues for keeping it simple on us!

Transfer Windows For The American MLS

Are you starting to see a pattern of dates for the transfer windows across Europe? I hope you didn’t expect that from the MLS because they are nowhere near the same dates as their European counterparts. The MLS runs from March to October, which is nothing like their August to May brethren in Europe. This is because the fall and winter are dominated by football and basketball in the US. The MLS made the smart choice of running their season at a different time and thus have different transfer windows. Their preseason window runs from February 7 — May 1, while their midseason window goes from July 10 — August 8. Ah Americans, we always have to be different don’t we?

The Preseason Transfer Window Is Near European Fans!

Get excited fellow European football fans, the preseason (or summer) window is almost here! In fact, it has already started for the Premier League! Buckle up as the rumors will be flying and the cash as well. As a football fan this has to be one of my favorite times of year. Hearing your favorite teams name interested in signing new players is exciting! So football and soccer fans alike, get ready because the fun is just getting started!

That’s all I’ve got for today! I hope you were able to learn what a transfer window in soccer and football looks like. If this answered questions for you, great! If not, feel free to leave them in the comments. Cheers to Fredrik @F_edits for another great image. Share this article with your friends! If they are new to football/soccer, this would be perfect for them. Have a great day everyone, God bless!


  • Kevin

    Thanks for the explanation and the examples. It was helpful to me to learn more about transfers in general as well as transfer windows.
    I would consider myself a beginner when it comes to being a soccer fan, so these articles have meant more to me. I hope it doesn’t seem like you are dumbing down your articles for us beginners. I trust you are excited by the people that read your posts and are learning something!
    Not only am I not familiar with all the leagues, I wasn’t aware of their varying transfer windows.


      This is exactly what I hoped to hear! My goal with these is to encourage questions and encourage new fans to keep learning! I’m glad this article helped, feedback gives me the encouragement to keep writing them!

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