1 | Wantaway
adj A disgruntled player is often categorised as "wantaway" (a word so far unused anywhere other than in the context of football recruitment) and may go as far as to aggressively “slap in a formal transfer request” or worse, issue a “come and get me plea”. Ambiguous footage of the off-duty player holding a mobile phone to their ear in a car park is often shown as proof of their dissatisfaction.
2 | Come and get me plea
noun The last resort of a ‘wantaway’ player. Having spent the summer "angling" for a move to a "bigger club", "sources close to the player" (his agent) have now resorted to asking journalists to spread the word that his standards have dropped and he's now ready to join Sunderland.
3 | The “unsettled” player
adj An unsettled player has been the subject of interest from another club or clubs who have been "tracking" him all summer, leaving him "flattered" by their interest, but leaving hs manager with no option but to take him out of the matchday squad because “his head’s not right”. In other words, he’s huffing because he’s desperate to leave. He will appear in the stands wearing an awkwardly tight suit on MOTD this Saturday night.
4 | Swoop
verb Managers from big clubs are liable to swoop in like giant birds of prey to feast on the pickings of a deal that hasn’t been done eg Chelsea’s signing of Pedro from the beak of Manchester United. Swoops are invariably "last-ditch" and require the predatory manager to make a “personal phone call” to show the player just “how much the club values him”. Like "hijacks", "swoops" must be done before the transfer window "slams shut".
5 | Transfer warchest
noun A manager lucky enough to be "armed" with a “transfer warchest” (or less impressively, "kitty") by his chairman is the most dangerous personality on the transfer deadline scene. He will invariably have plenty of “targets”, maybe even a “hitlist” and will be looking to perform “raids” on other weaker and poorer clubs in the same division. His face will be a scowling presence on back pages as the deadline looms.
6 | Raid
noun To be constituted as a raid, a manager must take two or more players from a single, poorer and less successful club that had no plans on selling and will now be even weaker and more vulnerable, in much the same way as the Vikings raising a village to the ground.
7 | Braced for a bid
idiom Smaller clubs are forced to play the role of plucky underdogs, frequently “braced for a bid”, as others try to “prise” their best players away on “transfer raids”. Their hangdog managers are forced to humiliate themselves with statements like “Stones/Berahino/Mané is not for sale at any price” which often means the chairman has just agreed a fee. The feistiest amongst them will issue "hands-off warnings", to indicate just how pissed off he'd be if the player left.
8 | Locked in talks
idiom To add tension to an increasingly long-winded transfer story, clubs and players are reported to be “locked in talks” or worse the two clubs will be "at loggerheads" and, for added sub-plots, there will be talk of failing to agree “personal terms”. Deals frequently "stall", or worse of all "sensationally collapse”. And blacked out Range Rovers are shown pulling off at high speed.
9 | Sealing the deal
idiom A faceless football club executive will suddenly be brought in to proceedings. Invariably they will cut short their family holidays to "seal a deal". It brings images to mind of their wife and young children forlornly waving their Dad goodbye from some holiday resort. “Sorry love, can't come to the beach today, I'm flying to Preston to wrap up the loan signing of Kevin Davies." The selling executive will often "laugh off" bids considered too low, possibly describing them as "derisory" before finally admitting that "every player has his price".
10 | Dream come true
idiom The final stage of a transfer can be marked as the point when Sky Sports News journalists start camping out in club car parks. Bids are “prepared”, "sanctioned”, "tabled" and then “lodged” before becoming “official”, and "representatives" begin to appear on the scene. Before finally the player is unveiled in a club shirt declaring how since he was a boy growing up in the backstreets of Bogota, it's always been his dream to join West Ham United.
First published in Esquire UK.