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Your Guide to Understanding Transfer Rumours: 2020 Edition

Cracking the code has never been easier!

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Millwall v Leicester City
Literally the only image that came up when I searched “Leicester City rumour” on the Getty site.
Photo by Jed Leicester/EMPICS via Getty Images

As you may be aware, approximately half the players in Europe have been linked to Leicester City during this transfer window, yet somehow, the Foxes have yet to make a single signing. How is this possible? Not all links are created equal. It’s all easily explained if you know the secret language of the transfer rumour. We here at the Fosse Posse have literally several years of experience watching the transfer window and today, we’re going to share what we’ve learned including the new lingo unique to the 2020 window.

Phrase: [Your team] is chasing the £50m-rated [player]
What You think it means: The player in question is worth £50m.
What it really means: Nothing at all. The values assigned to players are completely arbitrary or else leaked by agents (which is to say: completely arbitrary). Until the fee is agreed, the values have no relationship to reality.

Phrase: [Your club] expect a pandemic discount on [player]
What You think it means: The club will only have to pay 50-60% of the player’s value to sign the player.
What it really means: The club is explaining to their fans that, when the signing doesn’t happen, it’s not their fault because the other club was asking for an unreasonable amount. Pandemic discounts are not a thing.

Burnley FC v Leicester City - Premier League
Remember what people looked like without masks? Pepperidge Farms remembers.
Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Phrase: [Your team] must sign [player]!
What You think it means: It is obvious to everyone that this player would fit this club.
What it really means: The writer has absolutely made up this rumour for click-accumulation reasons. They’ve simply decided that they want to link the player and the club without any indication that there’s any interest whatsoever. We here at Fosse Posse would never stoop so low.

Phrase: [Your team] are winning the race for [player]’s signature.
What You think it means: The signing is imminent!
What it really means: The two sides may have talked. That’s about the extent of it. Neither fee nor personal terms have been agreed. This is an indication that the first step has been taken in exploring a potential transfer.

Phrase: [Your club] refuse to take no for an answer in pursuit of [player].
What You think it means: The club will keep up the pressure until they finally get the deal done.
What it really means: The two sides are just too far apart or the player simply isn’t for sale. The deal is dead, but the club wants the good press for continuing to go after their first-choice player.

Phrase: [Manager] says they admire the player, but that no approach has been made.
What You think it means: The manager is being diplomatic but isn’t really interested in doing a deal.
What it really means: Oh, there is definitely something on. Managers deny interest all the time and the more strenuously they deny it, the more likely that they’re just being coy (and trying not to break any tapping-up rules) and are in hot pursuit of the player.

Phrase: [Your club] and [other club] have agreed to a fee for the player.
What You think it means: Done deal! I’m buying their shirt now!
What it really means: This one is for those of you who are new to the sporting world outside of the United States. Players aren’t just told where to go; they have to want to go and they sign a new contract with their new employer. If the player and the club do not come to terms, or the player does not pass their physical, the deal is off.

Phrase: [Your club] has completed the signing of [player].
What You think it means: OK, the deal is done now, right?
What it really means: Well, yes, but...that doesn’t mean the player can actually play for your club. If the player fails to get a work permit, they may be under contract with your club but have to be loaned out to another club until the work permit is completed. Also, you have to get the registration in prior to the closing of the transfer window. 14 seconds can be a lifetime.