Transfer window terminology explained: What do football's deadline day phrases mean?

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From transfer window and transfer deadline day to release clauses, GOAL brings you an extensive guide to the transfer window's most common phrases

The transfer windows are considered one of the most exciting periods during a football season.

Fans across the world eagerly wait for transfer news related to their favourite clubs.

If you're new to the game and trying to figure out the lingo or simply need a refresher on the transfer window, GOAL brings you the meaning behind all the terminologies relating to the transfer window.

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Transfer window

It is a specific period during a football season when clubs buy, sell or loan out players. There are two transfer windows in a season, a summer transfer window which normally runs from June until the start of September, and a winter transfer window which is open between January 1 and January 31. Contracted players can only be transferred from one club to another during windows. Only the transfer of free-agent players can happen outside a window.

Undisclosed fee

When there is a permanent transfer of a player from one club to the other, and there is a fee involved to trigger the move, 'undisclosed fee' is when both parties (selling and buying clubs) agree that the fee should not be made public. At times, it is the player or his agent who consents or rather doesn't want the transfer fee known to all.

Signed the dotted line

A transfer (permanent or loan) is complete when a player agrees to sign a contract with the club he or she is moving to. The signing of an agreement is known as 'signed on the dotted line'.

Permanent transfer

A permanent transfer involves a player permanently moving from one club to another.

Loan move

A loan move, on the other hand, involves a player moving from one club to another temporarily, generally for a period of six months or a whole season.


A player has to undergo a medical test - including a cardiac and ECG - before he or she can sign with a particular football club. Players can only be registered or contracted if they pass the medical test.

Rumour mill

Rumour mill is a rumour or gossip related to a probable transfer of a player from one club to another.

Done deal

Contrary to the rumour mill, done deals are actual transfer news which comes up when a transfer of a player from one club to another is finalised.

Mykhaylo Mudryk Chelsea unveiling 2022-23

In talks

This refers to a situation when a club approaches another club or a player's agent with an offer to sign him or her during a transfer window.

Likely to join

When someone says a player is 'likely to join' a club while revealing transfer news, it means that a final contract is yet to be signed but the probability of a player joining a club is very high.

Personal terms agreed

When a club wish to sign a player, they not just approach another club but also approach the particular person whose services they wish to acquire. If the selling club allows them to talk to the player, the buying club and the player can then negotiate the terms of the prospective deal.


A pre-contract is an agreement between a player and a club that commits to a move being made once the player’s current deal comes to a close. This allows interested parties to line up recruitment business well before it is actually completed, with long-term planning put in place.

Place a bid

When a club approach another club with a formal offer for a player they wish to sign, it is called placing a bid for the player.

Buy-back clause

In certain transfers, clubs often put a clause in the contract of players they are selling to another club which allow them to repurchase them in the future.

Release clause

A release clause is a set fee that a buying club can pay a selling club in order to contractually oblige them to offload a player or a coach. The fee is set while the contract is signed which can be revised at a later date upon the consent of both the club and the player/coach. A release clause is also known as a buy-out clause.

Transfer deadline day

It is the last day of a transfer window when clubs can buy or sell players. Transfer activities have to stop as soon as the deadline day is over.

Fernando Torres Chelsea 2010-11

Hand in a transfer request

When a contracted player wishes to move out of a club and join another team, he or she first approaches the club management and then puts in a transfer request, where they urge the club to release or sell him.

War chest

A war chest is a purse with a fixed amount of money that the clubs hand over to their manager during a window to spend on player transfers. Normally only used when a large sum of money is involved.

First refusal clause

It is a clause that many clubs include in the contract of players while selling them. The clause gives the club selling the player the right to repurchase the player in the future.

Example: Real Madrid put a first refusal clause in Martin Odeegard's contract when they sold them to Arsenal. If and when Odegaard plans to move out from Arsenal, Real Madrid will have the first choice to buy him. If they refuse to purchase him, only then can the Gunners sell him to any other club.