football transfers

How Football Transfers Work – Transfer Tiers

The season is over and we’re all now looking forward to some rest and relaxation away from football. I mean, after all, that’s what the off-season is all about right? Taking a break, giving time to the family, petting your dog. Well, unfortunately (or fortunately) not at Crossbar this just gave us the opportunity to get our brains thinking about the one thing that all football fans collectively think about.


We’ve seen a pandemic come and go yet throughout that process, the billion-pound football clubs have laid off their staff (we’re looking at you, Arsenal), have paid ridiculous amounts of money for transfers (of course, Chelsea) while others have been left absolutely decimated by the impact of it all. We then thought, why is that?

Why do certain clubs pay more money for certain players and not enough for others? You’d probably think it’s got it all to do with the quality of the player in question but that’s not the case. There are certain clubs that are just better at selling their assets than others but did we ever think why? Well, we did and we came up with a theory on that. But first, let’s just go over how football transfers work, and then we can get into the juicy details.

How Do They Work?

Arsene Wenger once said that transfers consist of three working relationships: player-club, club-club, agent-club so for a signing to be successful all of these conditions have to be properly satisfied. As football has evolved agents have started to play an even more powerful role in how these clubs are to approach different clients. One strong example would be the Erling Haaland saga which is sure to continue well into the next few seasons.

His agent, the infamous Mino Raiola has all the cards and a strong hand to make sure he goes where his client can get the best development and he can get the most money. It’s the consequence of the modern game with the money that’s been invested into the clubs by the owners, sponsorships that they’ve accumulated through commercial deals, and more. So for transfers to work, all these three situations have to be satisfied.

What are Transfer Tiers?

Transfer Tiers is a concept that the team at Crossbar came up with very recently about clubs in the market with their advantages/disadvantages when it comes to buying and selling players. Certain clubs hold leverage in both the buying and the selling market and there are positions in place for it, We’ll explain.

First Tier

The first tier is clubs like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern München, Manchester United, Manchester City & PSG these clubs are normally notorious for buying ready-made players that have played their trade of football at their old clubs. Players that are ready for the title challenges and possible Champions League push. They have the pick of the bunch when it comes to players, as other clubs know that they have the money. But when it comes to selling, these clubs almost never make a profit on the amount they paid for their players unless they’re selling them to one another.

ed woodward era manchester united

Second Tier

These clubs are a lot more difficult to analyze because of the strange situation they find themselves in. There are instances where they sell and buy well, and times when they don’t. A lot of that depends on where they are as a club, let’s give you guys an example. Look at Arsenal, they’re a historic top 6 club that won trophies and titles in the past but is unable to do so regularly anymore. They find themselves in a strange situation when it comes to selling players, as their market is the First-tier clubs we mentioned above, but because of how poor they’ve played none of those clubs are interested in their players which makes it extremely difficult to sell them at a profit. They almost always sell at a loss because of this and because of the on-pitch performances they have to buy at ridiculous rates too.

Clubs in this tier include those below the elites, like Chelsea, Liverpool, Spurs, Valencia, Atletico and more. Its absolutely crucial for these clubs to perform on the pitch to sell their assets well and make a profit. They will always get lowballed by clubs below them as they’re looking for bargain cheap deals and KNOW these clubs want to sell.

Only Liverpool and Chelsea are an exception but that coincides with their performances on the pitch as well. What gives clubs in this tier advantage, is that when their teams perform the valuations of all of their players goes through the roof. This helps them specifically when they’re selling in the transfer market

Third Tier

The clubs in this tier have it the easiest, but in terms of actually competing on the pitch, they can get away with the odd poor performances/seasons and the lack of understanding on the pitch. Here, this helps them create assets that they can sell for profit and wouldn’t need something sustainable until they slowly work towards becoming a second-tier club. A great example of this is Leicester City and AS Monaco.

Both clubs have seen a very similar kind of trajectory with them winning the league, having a bit of a blip, and then coming back up again with a core of players that are wanted, and usually go for handsome amounts allowing these clubs to continue the cycle all over again. They’re opportunists and for these clubs to succeed it’s important for them to scout well and sell well. Knowing when to sell is just as important to their models as knowing how much to sell for.


Football has become a vastly different game to the one we remember, and we’ve seen the game evolve, change and grow to new heights over the last few years. This tier system that the team at CrossBar came up with hopefully helps in explaining this crazy world we’ve all grown to love.

Until next time.


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