The clock is tick, tick, ticking down on 2011. But while the rest of the world breaks, the soccer world waits. The transfer window opens on Jan. 1, and fans of all teams see New Year's Day as the one that could move their club forward.
Most of the questions this week were transfer related. So let's get to answering them.
Hi Marcus, I'm very new to all this. Can you talk a little bit about transfer fees? How much do the players actually get? And what happens for instance, when Real Madrid paid $86.2 million for Kaka and now they want to unload him for a lot less. The club loses obviously but how about the players, does Kaka have to make up for that loss?
— Ms. Morris, Calif., U.S.A.
Hello Ms. Morris, thanks for the question and welcome to the party. Transfer fees are the price purchasing teams pay to release a player from their contract with the selling team. The buying club must then negotiate a contract with the player, and have him complete a physical (medical) exam before the transfer goes through.
The latest reports on Kaka claim that Real Madrid is looking to sell him for about half of what it paid for him in 2009. That kind of loss would cripple most clubs, but not Madrid. It can eat those losses and still afford to buy nearly any player out there.
One thing to remember is that Real most likely did not pay AC Milan that entire fee up front. Most deals are paid in equal installments over the length of the player's contract with the buying club. In Kaka's case, he signed a six-year contract with Madrid, so the Spanish club would pay Milan $14.6 million at the start of each season. It has already paid half of his fee. If it sells the Brazilian international for half of the original fee, it would break even on the deal. Even if it receives less than half the amount it paid for Kaka, the player himself would not be obligated to make up the difference, as it's a matter of business between clubs.
Years ago, players would get a cut — often 10 percent — of the transfer fee. That is far less common these days, especially at the top level. I hope this helps and thanks for the question.
What's going on with Olympique Marseille? Are they trying to replace Lucho Gonzalez? If so, who will fill his position on the bench?
— Al, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Hello, Al. Marseille, or L'OM, had a tough start to the season, but it has improved over the course of the season. It's unbeaten since the 3-0 win over Ligue 1 leader Paris St. Germain on Nov. 27, and I'm expecting the club to storm up the standings after the winter break. It also advanced to the knockout rounds of the UEFA Champions League and I'm picking your team to defeat the struggling Inter Milan in the round of 16.
Manager Didier Deschamps is in the third year of his project with the club, and has constructed a squad consisting of players of his choosing. The only problem is that he is in the final year of his contract, and the club will remain in a state of temporary paralysis until it sorts out the Deschamps situation.
As for Lucho (who happens to be one of my favorites), this is most likely his last season with the club. His form has dropped sharply since gangsters broke into his house and robbed him and his wife last March. Arsene Wenger tried to bring him to Arsenal in the summer, but could not come to an agreement with Marseille.
If and when he leaves, he will likely be replaced by a player with a few years of League 1 experience, or one of the many talented youngsters at the club. Thanks for the question, Al.
Any possible targets for Liverpool in January?
— Muhd Imran, Merseyside, Liverpool, U.K.
Hello Muhd and thanks for all your support. This is the $1 million question that I can't really answer. It's rare, especially for a club that is rich in tradition like Liverpool to name a player it is pursuing in the transfer market. Most clubs conduct negotiations in private and going public can spark the interest of other clubs. This often destabilizes the player, starts a bidding war and drives up the player's price. The selling club can also take it as a sign of bad faith or disrespect.
As for LFC, I can only speculate as to the type of player club bosses might be trying to bring to the club. Adding another option in the attack seems to be a logical solution to its goal-scoring problems. The Reds might look for a wide midfielder and possibly a central defender to provide cover in those areas.
I wouldn't be shocked if Liverpool didn't bring anyone in during the January transfer window. Most of the club's public statements indicate that Kenny Dalglish and Damien Comolli are satisfied with the strength of the squad. I would expect more turnover after the season ends, when they know what 2012-13 competitions LFC will face. You might also see some veteran players leave the club, creating a need to recruit new players. Thanks again, Muhd, and sorry I can't give a straight answer on that one.
I'd like to take this time to say thanks for reading, reacting and interacting with me and my work in 2011. It truly means the world to me. Have a happy and safe new year and watch this space for some big things in 2012.