The Five Stages Of A Transfer Saga For Any Football Fan

We've seen fans go through this cycle all summer long
09:00, 16 Aug 2023

The transfer window is absolutely horrible for most football fans. If you don’t support one of the uber elite sides, it’s mainly a case of spending three months wondering which of your star players is going to leave, how much you’ll get for them, and who on earth you will pluck out to replace your fallen stars. 

Much like grief, it can be broken down into five stages. Let’s run through the various emotions almost all of us have felt this summer. 

Stage One - The False Sense Of Security

There’s been rumours lingering around your club’s star man over the summer. You’ve kept a close eye on his Instagram stories to check what he’s been up to. One cracking tan, one trip to Marbella and no sign of any dodgy agents. Phew.

You breathe a huge sigh of relief when he turns up for pre-season training. He’s happy, smiling in almost every picture and pinging in goals in five-a-side matches. That doesn’t look like a face that wants to leave. Maybe he will sign that new contract offer that is on the table. Maybe he will stay. Maybe everything will be okay. 


Stage Two - The Denial

The rumours around your star man begin to swirl on social media. You refuse to believe any of the ‘ITK’ accounts, but something about it all leaves you feeling very uneasy. Newspaper articles appear. Then the rumours gather more pace. You bat them away at any opportunity. 

From ‘he won’t leave us for another team in our league!’ to ‘Nah, he would never join you, your lot are going down!’ this all points to one thing only... Complete and utter denial. The fact that your star man will triple his wages and get to play in a more competitive league doesn’t make sense to you. He still frequents the pub round the corner from the stadium and only just renewed the mortgage on his house, according to the local estate agent. It’s just not happening. Not this summer. 

James Maddison also made a big move this summer
James Maddison also made a big move this summer

Stage Three - Bargaining

Okay, this might be happening. He waved goodbye to the fans in the most recent pre-season friendly and now his medical is booked in. But you know, it’s for a club-record fee. A great price for a player with only a year left on his contract. What else could the club do? 

He’s not even worth that much anyway. With those funds this group of scouts will be able to find 10 players like this. Sounds familiar? The bargaining stage is what makes the goodbye bearable. It’s for the good of the club. Don’t forget, you have to sell players if you want to follow the Brighton/Brentford model and make it to the very top. See, don’t you feel better already?

Stage Four - Acceptance and Belief

He’s been officially announced at his new club. Like a dagger through the heart, the picture of him wearing his new club colours goes straight through you. You run through the previous three steps again, this time in double quick time. How could he be so happy in pre-season? Why did he join them? At least they paid over the odds. 

Now the deal is done, it doesn’t take too long for you to accept it. You remember the good times, and begin to move on. Acceptance is good for the soul and, slowly, it turns into something else. All of a sudden your club is active in the transfer market to replace him. 

Sure you’ve never heard of this replacement, but he was briefly linked with bigger clubs in your league and played for Barcelona’s academy when he was nine. With his signing and the wages you’ve saved, the club will be a far stronger force this season. You’ve never seen him play, but you believe. All of a sudden your team is looking rather tasty on paper. 

Stage Five - Realisation

You settle in to watch the first game of the season. The excitement to see your new hero is palpable. Five minutes in he gives the ball away. Then he does it again. And again. The realisation slowly sinks in. He isn’t like your departed superstar at all. 

The four-year contract your club handed out to him felt like a safe investment at the time, but now you’re left wondering who you can bring in on loan in his place. The X factor has disappeared from your team and everything you were hoping to build upon from last season has gone out of the window. It doesn’t help things when you get home to watch the highlights of the other games to see your departed star kissing the badge of his new club as he opens the scoring. 

It’s painful. But we’ll come again next year. New stars will flourish and they too will depart one day. This agonising cycle never gets easier. 

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