Where and Why Do Football Players Migrate?

Dec 11, 2020

There are 2 distinct transfer windows in football. The summer transfer window, the period between the end of a season. And the beginning of another in the major European leagues and the Winter/January window which takes place at the turn of the year. Both transfer windows represent arguably the most exciting part of the football calendar and ours at 433agent. For fans and the busiest for the Journalists and football agents.

For footballers, it’s an opportunity to effect a change and there are several reasons why a footballer will want to change his football family. The commonest reason that player migration occurs is growth, as the result of all the hard work and sacrifices footballers make are usually rewarded with bigger moves with better opportunities to compete for the biggest prizes.

The other obvious reason players change clubs is money, and there have been a few examples of players leaving the biggest leagues in Europe while in their prime to relative obscurity in the far East or the Americas. Also, Players change teams to play more regularly and get as many playing minutes as they can get in their prime years rather than warm the bench even at a huge club like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich, James Rodriguez from Real Madrid to Everton in the 2020/2021 summer window, the perfect example.

Family reasons play a part sometimes too as some footballers could be homesick without their loved ones and do all they can to return to them, sometimes even at the expense of their career. And rarely as in the case of Neymar Jr. from Barcelona to PSG, players change clubs so they can cease being 2nd best to an indisputable king.

Where are Players Going?

The next destination is the next chapter in their professional career and it’s determined by the player's quality as well as some other factors like the agent's influence and pulling power, affiliation or none of it with rival clubs, wages, player's age, injury history and scouting reports. Naturally, a player approaching his prime is expected to move to a bigger, better club while a player past his prime makes the so-called 'semi-retirement ' moves to Australia, USA, China, Japan, Saudi Arabia etc.

However, as explained earlier some players go to these semi-retirement' homes at their peak because of the money involved, best examples being the Brazilian duo of Oscar dos Santos Emboaba junior and Givanildo Vieira de Sousa better known as Hulk who both play for Chinese Super League side Shanghai Sipg, they moved to China in their prime years from Chelsea Football Club in England and Zenit St Petersburg of Russia respectively. So where are Players going? They are going to where they will find more happiness. Happiness could be more money, a bigger club, more trophies, more playing time, closeness to family and friends or even less tax.

Where are Players Coming From?

Generally in football, when you conquer a stage or a league, you move to a bigger one. In the developmental stage, players go from Under 13 to Under 15, Under 17, under 20 and to the senior level. At club level, the aim is to go from local to national to continental and then international with the top leagues in Europe representing the highest level of football for any football player and migration ensues from Africa, Asia, America or any other part of the world to those places.

With each passing year, the gap between the top leagues and the smaller leagues has become wider and wider and the phrase 'top 5’ leagues have been coined to represent the biggest leagues in Europe and arguably the biggest in the world – The English Premier League, The Spanish La Liga, The Italian Serie A, The French Ligue 1 and the German Bundesliga. The best players in the world play in these leagues and every young footballer dream of playing there someday. By natural convention players are always coming from a club or league they have outgrown or conquered or where they are not as happy as they would love to be.

Why are Players Leaving their Countries?

In Football as in other sports, the aim is to win the biggest prizes. The biggest tournaments in tennis are the Grandslams – The Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the Us Open. The dream of all Tennis player is to win these prizes. In Football the biggest stages are the Fifa World Cup for international football and the Uefa Champions League for Club football and every footballer dreams of playing and winning these tournaments.

If by virtue of geography a player cannot compete in these tournaments. Such players will seek to move away to best football countries from their countries provided that they have the talent, work ethic and mental ability to compete at the bigger and better level they are migrating to. Unlike decades past scouts are scattered all over the world. And football talents are less likely to rot away without being discovered as it was in yesteryears.

Generally speaking, as footballers grow and develop into better athletes they seek and work to move to a bigger stage, before a bigger audience playing with better players and being educated by the best football brains in the game so they can realize the ultimate dream of all footballers, to win the ultimate prizes both with their teams as well as the individual accolades.

Rarely, some players are lucky enough to continue to find the absolute happiness playing for the same club for several decades without having to change allegiance from their boyhood club out of total respect for the badge and the fans. These loyal cult heroes are further divided into 2. Those who were lucky to play for the biggest or one of the biggest clubs in the world and didn’t need to change clubs and those who stuck with their beloved teams even though they received several better offers over the course of their careers.

Paolo Maldini, Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Lionel Messi are best examples of football heroes who didn’t need to change clubs as their loyalty didn’t make them miss out on the big trophies. Roma legend Francesco Totti and Anfield hero Steven Gerrard paid the price sort of, for their loyalty, missing out on some prestigious trophies as well as the opportunity to win the Ballon D'Or amongst other personal accolades.

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