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How Much do Soccer Players Make from Transfer Fees?

How Much do Soccer Players Make from Transfer Fees?

The fact that soccer players can move from one club to another after a certain amount of money is paid makes the game more interesting. When the transfer window is open in the soccer calendar, outrageous sums of money are exchanged between clubs while acquiring new players.

Key Takeaways

  • A transfer fee is paid to a player’s old club to secure the services of such a player in another club
  • Soccer agents often earn as much as 10% of a player’s transfer fee although they can earn higher in some countries
  • Players get nothing from their transfer fees although bigger transfer fees often translate to better pay in wages and commissions

A Transfer Matching System introduced by FIFA in October 2010 helps in keeping an accurate record of all soccer transfers made between countries. The numbers revealed that Brazil and Portugal have the most sought-after players in the global transfer market.

According to FIFA records, 2019 was a record year in the transfer market—over $8.15bn (₤5.6bn) was spent by clubs in purchasing players. During transfer periods, fans are always curious to know which player will be either joining or leaving their clubs.

Fans are often also inquisitive about how the huge sums of money spent in buying new players are shared and if players also get a percentage from it. If you keep reading, we will reveal how the huge sum announced during transfers is shared.

A transfer contract and a soccer player. then, How Do Soccer Transfers Work?

How Much do Soccer Players Make from Transfer Fees?

Before deliberating on how much soccer players make from transfer fees, it is important to understand exactly how soccer transfers work. It is also imperative to explain what a transfer window, transfer, and transfer fees are, to guide those who aren’t familiar with the concept.

A soccer transfer is a transaction that occurs between two clubs where they enter an agreement to either sell or purchase players who are in contract with them. During soccer transfers, clubs use it as an avenue to inject their clubs with firebrand players from other teams who can get them needed results.

The money negotiated and paid by a buying club to a selling club is what is known as a ‘transfer fee’. In Australia, Canada, and America, when a player is transferred from one club to another, their original contract from their previous club is also bought.

This isn’t the same in the European soccer ecosystem, in Europe, the old contract of players is terminated before they can start negotiating a new contract with a new club.

In 2002, UEFA introduced two transfer windows, the first being from 1st July to 31st August and the second being the whole of January. These windows aren’t sacrosanct as they vary from location to location.

Players can’t be bought or sold by clubs until the transfer window is opened. Most of the transfers that occur in soccer often happen during the final days of the transfer window despite the ample time provided.

Since soccer transfers often involve a chain of complicated negotiations, we would be looking at the four major players involved in the process. Observing the roles of the player’s agent, the player involved, the buying club, and the selling club, will give us clarity on how transfer fees are spread.

A soccer ball, a champion trophy and some money. These are the goal of many players

1. Role of Agents

In modern soccer, agents are more businessmen than friends to soccer players. Their major role in the life of soccer players is to serve as their mediator. They mostly negotiate contracts and represents players’ overall interest.

Some agents go as far as advising players to exit their clubs after getting them new clubs to sign with. They are the legal representatives of soccer players which is why they work extra hard to secure the best deals for them.

Good agents have a vast knowledge of the legal niceties of soccer transfers. They get paid handsomely too for their services, especially when their players get transferred successfully to big clubs. Their total earnings from a transfer are often based on the terms of the agreement.

Jorge Mendes, Mino Raiola, and Pini Zahavi are some of the most famous agents in soccer because they are more successful at concluding big transfer deals. Their names become more popular whenever transfer windows are open.

Soccer player work with agents for transfer fee

Agents are necessary components in the world of soccer due to the delicate nature of their job. Some excesses of soccer agents are often frowned upon by authorities because, in recent times, agent fees have reached astronomical levels.

In certain instances, agents even go as far as demanding 50% of the total transfer fee offered by clubs to purchase their players. Between the period of 2 Feb 2018 to 31st Jan 2019, Liverpool football club allegedly paid out approximately ₤43.7m as fees to soccer agents and their intermediaries.

Also, according to estimates by UEFA, soccer agents received more than ₤3bn in fees between the years 2013 and 2017. This is why FIFA proposed a cap of 10% on agent’s fees and commissions to nip the crisis in the bud.

Many soccer enthusiasts also believe that the fees and commissions received by soccer agents should be capped to discourage greed and selfishness among them. Certain contracts even mandate players to pay their agents some amount of money after they help them get transferred to their dream clubs.

Agents aren’t all selfish though. Even though players are often left out of the revenue share of their transfer fees, their agents make sure they settle for handsome monthly wages and commissions.

Renown agents often make millions of dollars from a single transfer depending on the value placed on a player by the clubs desperately seeking his or her service. There is still a conflict existing in soccer concerning what agents should be earning from players’ transfers.

soccer agents and soccer player

2. Soccer players

Transfers in modern soccer aren’t like in the past when clubs can sell off players with who they are in a contract without first seeking their opinion. These days, players have the power to make decisions concerning their transfer.

Players can choose if they want to be transferred to other clubs by their present club or not, as long as their contracts are still valid. The financial aspect of a transfer solely depends on the teams involved—players don’t have a say in such a matter.

Oftentimes, players are strategically forced out of clubs by getting benched in consecutive matches over a long period. Such players wouldn’t think twice when transfer offers are presented to them.

Soccer player with his soccer ball and money

Fans often get angry at their club’s management when they start discussing selling their star players either because of an injury or a misunderstanding. Such was the case in August 2021 when Lionel Messi exited Barcelona for PSG.

Soccer players who are in the game for the money often find it easier to accept transfers. This is more common in situations where transfer contracts offer better wages and commissions. When players fall in love with the teams they play for, getting them to accept transfers to other clubs is often daunting.

Normally, players aren’t supposed to get a share of their transfer fee. However, smart agents have ways of inserting certain clauses within their player’s contracts to get them a percentage of their transfer fee after a successful transfer.

Soccer player, soccer ball and money

3. The concerned clubs

In every successful transfer that happens in soccer, two different soccer clubs must be involved. Clubs have the power to hold back their players if their stated demand for a transfer isn’t met.

When players get signed by clubs, such clubs will own them and demand their services for the duration stated in their contracts. Soccer players can terminate their contracts if they can satisfy all the necessary demands as stated in the contract.

During transfer windows, clubs contact the clubs of players they are interested in and attempt to reach an agreement. Players and their agents are also allowed to undergo negotiations with the interested clubs. Such negotiations usually involve image rights, performance bonuses, signing bonuses, wages, etc.

Soccer player, agent and money on the pitch

Clubs can let go of a player only when the bidding price for that player fully covers the value they offer. The club’s financial state can also affect the monetary value they place on a player.

Smaller clubs tend to sell their players at more reasonable prices. Nevertheless, they often negotiate a range of clauses with the purchasing clubs. Such clauses will earn them remunerations when such players start making exploits in big clubs.

Buying upcoming star players from their small clubs can also earn big clubs lots of money when such players start impressing soccer fans. Sometimes, such players make multiples of the money invested in them.

Super-rich clubs use transfers to make lots of money aside from building phenomenal teams. Clubs can force players to complete the tenure of their contracts when they can’t find a potential buyer.

The Argentinian topflight striker Carlos Tevez suffered such faith in Manchester City when he tried to manipulate his way out of the club but no team was able to afford him. Manchester City kept him until his contract got exhausted.

When multiple clubs bid for a player, it triggers a bidding war which drives up the price of such a player. Selling clubs always hope for such events to occur so they can make as much money as they possibly can from the player’s transfer.

Transfer fees are divided between selling clubs and agents, although agents and players can propose a “signing-on fee” which is a one-time bonus added to a player’s monthly or weekly earnings.

A soccer ball on the money

It is also important to understand that players can be transferred between clubs for free. This occurs when a player is admitted into another club without a transfer fee being exchanged between both clubs.

This can happen when such players still have no more than 6 months left on their initial contracts with their present club. Such a situation is often termed the Bosman ruling—named after the famous court case of a Belgian soccer player named Jean-Marc Bosman.

Players can also be loaned out by their current teams to play for other clubs while retaining their rights and contract. This concept protects soccer teams from signing expensive contracts which might deplete their savings. However, they still have to pay an agreed loan fee to the lending club.


A major percentage of transfer fees is usually paid to the selling club. When there is a sell-on clause in the player’s contract, a third party can earn a percentage of the transfer fee.

A sell-on clause is a clever way for previous clubs to keep benefiting from subsequent transfers of the players they sold until their contract with their current club is terminated. For example, when Angel Di Maria moved from Manchester United to PSG, Real Madrid earned 15% of his ₤44 million transfer fee.

Although soccer players hardly get a penny from their transfer fees, huge transfer fees often mean more money for their agents and bigger monthly wages and commissions on their part.