Cavani and the Complex World of Transfers

Cavani and the Complex World of Transfers Napoli’s Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani is highly coveted by top clubs across Europe but what will his proposed transfer from Napoli entail?

Rumours about transfers involving Napoli’s Edinson Cavani and Atlético Madrid’s Radamel Falcao have dominated the football headlines for months. At the end of May, Falcao signed for AS Monaco but Cavani’s future is still undecided. This article considers the likely events in the transfer process should, as expected, Cavani leave Napoli.

Last month Falcao, the Columbian hotshot striker and one of European football’s top transfer targets, opted to move from Atlético Madrid to French moneybags AS Monaco, newly promoted to Ligue 1. Monaco, recently bought by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, secured the 27-year old’s signature by activating a buyout clause said to be €60m (£52m). They then wasted little time in spending a further £60m on Porto’s Joao Moutinho and James Rodriguez.

In just two years at Atlético Madrid Falcao, nicknamed ‘The Tiger’, became extremely hot property, scoring an incredible 70 goals in just 90 games. Prior to signing for Monaco, he had been linked with several top clubs including Chelsea (who were allegedly offering Fernando Torres and a bucket load of Euros in exchange), Manchester City, Manchester United and Real Madrid.

Since Falcao’s transfer was concluded, the rumour mills have speculated endlessly about clubs courting the signature of another highly sought striker, Edinson Cavani, a 26-year old Uruguayan who has enjoyed three hugely successful seasons with Napoli, culminating in them finishing in a highly creditable second place in Serie A and securing Champions League qualification.

Cavani is, arguably, the hottest striker in this summer’s transfer market. Of course, there is also endless speculation about the future of Cristiano Ronaldo who, without doubt, will be the biggest transfer story of the summer – if it happens. For, whilst at the time of writing, it seems inevitable that Cavani will leave Napoli, it is far less certain that Ronaldo will leave Real Madrid.

Clubs proposed to be vying to sign Cavani, who is said to have a €63m (£54m) buyout clause in his Napoli contract, include Manchester City, Chelsea, Real Madrid, Paris St Germain and Juventus. Nick-named ‘Il Matador’, Cavani has been a massive success in Serie A, scoring 104 goals in 138 Napoli appearances. In three seasons at the club he has averaged 26 Serie A goals per season.

The Transfer Process

Although we often only hear of a transfer after it has been done and dusted, in many cases they are incredibly complicated pieces of business involving endless rounds of negotiation that can take weeks or months. In the past, transfers typically involved the selling club accepting an offer for a player and the buying club negotiating a wage and bonus package with the player and their agent. Not anymore.

Nowadays, players and their agents have become a potent double act, presenting buying clubs with a shopping list of financial, personal and legal demands in order to complete a transfer. Agents have learned many tricks of the trade including playing clubs off against each other. They have proved to be amazingly adept at convincing the most modest players they are the new Messi. Sir Alex Ferguson once accused football agents of having ‘an imagination beyond belief’, because of the extraordinary demands he had encountered whilst manager of Manchester United, including being asked to buy a block of apartments for a player as part of a deal.

Of course agents, who typically earn 5-10% of the total value of a transfer, have a vested interest in negotiating the maximum benefits for players. Yet even the richest clubs need to negotiate to buy the best players for the lowest possible financial outlay. In recent seasons UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules have put serious pressure on football clubs not to spend more than they earn. With the prospect of financial penalties and exclusion from European competition (which has already happened this year to Málaga CF of Spain’s La Liga and several Turkish and Romanian sides), clubs may be increasingly forced to play hardball with football agents about their, often extravagant, financial demands.

Just to give an indication of how much agents fees add to the cost of a transfer, according to figures published by the Premier League, last year Manchester City paid agents the staggering sum of £10,537,982. Other clubs including Liverpool, Queens Park Rangers, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Arsenal each paid out more than £5m.

Cavani’s Proposed Transfer

Cavani is represented by Mino Raiola, one of the world’s top football agents who has a portfolio of leading players including Paris St Germain’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, no stranger to big-money transfers in his illustrious career.

So what needs to happen to secure Cavani’s signature? Firstly, interested clubs including Chelsea and Manchester City must activate the buyout clause of €63m (£54m) in his Napoli contract. However, at present, both clubs are refusing to offer this sum. Interestingly, on 23 June 2013, Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentis revealed that Cavani’s buyout clause expires on 10 August 2013. So it would appear we have a window of less than 6 weeks to conclude this piece of transfer business.

Assuming a club satisfies the buyout clause criteria, then negotiations can move onto the next level. Raiola will be seeking to negotiate a number of issues with clubs vying for Cavani’s signature. These are likely to include:

1. Salary: The obvious starting point. This includes the basic annual salary/weekly wage. In Cavani’s case it has been suggested that Chelsea have offered £7.2m, or £138,000 per week. Often a player’s salary will increase annually over the length of the contract, and is sometimes linked to the number of appearances.

2. Signing-on fee: This is the amount of money a player receives for signing for a club, and can be paid over several years.

3. Bonuses: There are a number of potential bonuses that can be negotiated with the buying club. These include a loyalty bonus, paid only if the player sees out his contract at a club in full, usually paid following the last game of the season in the final year of a contract.

Appearance money is another type of bonus where, for example, a player receives 100% for each game he starts then, say, 50% for coming on as a substitute and, say, 25% for being a non-playing substitute. A player can receive other bonuses related to the club winning, for example, a league title or cup competition, or qualifying for Europe. Strikers like Cavani can also negotiate goalscoring or assist bonuses whilst defenders and goalkeepers can negotiate a clean sheet bonus.

4. Selling-on fee: The agent would be involved in negotations between the buying and selling clubs about what percentage of a future transfer fee the selling club (in Cavani’s case this would be Napoli) would receive if the player is sold by the new club.

5. Image rights ownership: This can be a big part of the transfer negotiations involving high-profile players whose endorsement is sought by big business and the media. The negotiations focus on the player’s right to control the commercial use and exploitation of his name and image.

6. Buyout clause: It has become the norm for clubs to insert a buyout clause in a player’s contract, meaning that they can refuse to enter into negotiations to sell the player unless interested clubs agree to pay the buyout fee.

Exciting Months Ahead

Cavani recently starred for Uruguay in the Confederations Cup in Brazil, scoring 3 goals, including a stunning 30-yard free-kick against Italy in the third place play-off. His performances have done little to dampen the fervour for his signature.

As things stand, the indications are that his likely destination will be the English Premiership – either Chelsea, the current favourites, or Manchester City. However, Real Madrid, with Ancelotti installed as manager and ongoing speculation about Ronaldo’s future, could yet emerge as victors in the race to secure his signature. And let’s not forget Juventus, the Italian Serie A champions, who must surely crave to add this most deadly of strikers to their already stellar squad.

Get ready then for several weeks of further fevered speculation and potentially gripping transfer activity in the run-up to the new season.

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  • comment-avatar
    Naring 5 years

    Napoli are right to stick to buyout clause. Cavani does not replicate his club form with Uruguay normally. No guarantee he will be success at Chelsea but every season he scored 30+ goals for Napoli and is invaluable to them. worth more than 50m for them for sure

  • comment-avatar
    Hayri 5 years

    Torres earns 175 k and Cavani only 138k does not make much sense

    • comment-avatar

      I agree, although once bonuses, image rights, etc are added on, Cavani’s salary could rocket! Rumours are growing about PSG interest so Chelsea not guaranteed to be his destination. For sure, Cavani’s career seems to be going in the opposite direction to Torres, who Mourinho has been surprisingly quiet about…..