On the podium of sales, but far in the collection of dollars
Nearly 900 Argentine soccer players were negotiated in the 2021 international pass market, what represents the second group in importance behind Brazil with 1749 players. The exact number of Argentines is 896, ahead of the British with 837 footballers and the French with 772. The place occupied by Argentine players is in tune with the influence and added value that they usually deliver in different countries and leagues. But the numbers become more relative when you look at how much revenue they represent for clubs and associations: good amount, but not so many dollars.
The 2021 global report prepared by FIFA with the international transfers registered in the TMS, reflects that 18,068 players were negotiated by 4,544 clubs around the world. A record number of institutions and 5.1% more soccer players transferred compared to 2020. However, when transfer amounts are reviewed, the total volume was 4.86 billion dollars, 13.6% less than in 2020 and 33.8% lower than in 2019. That season, the one before the pandemic, is so far the one that sets the record for money traded in the soccer industry: 7.35 billion dollars. Another interesting fact is that 66.8% of players who moved from one club to another did so as free agents and 53.7% of negotiations between clubs were with the “sell on fee” clause, by which the selling club receives a percentage of a future sale made by the buying club.
Of the 4,860 million dollars negotiated in 2021, 2,800 million correspond to 7,656 soccer players who are between 18 and 23 years old, while another 7,388 are in the 24-29 age range. It means that although football is also a sport of extended careers, the investment in the transfer market of players over 30 years of age becomes almost irrelevant just by reviewing the figures: $161 million was paid for 2,701 players between the ages of 30 and 35 and 27.7 million for 157 players over 35 years of age.
The second place occupied by Argentine soccer players who are required in all types of markets, becomes a fourth position when you see how much was paid for them: a total of 292.6 million dollars. This item is headed by the French with 643.6 million, followed by the Brazilians with 468.4 million dollars. One detail to keep in mind is that when it comes to transfers of Argentine soccer players, not all those that are negotiated come from the local market and that is when Argentina goes from second place to eighth: of the 896 soccer players negotiated, 449 were exported in 2021 from their own clubs.
Argentina then drops to 10th place when it comes to importing talent: 338 players. In this area, Brazil also shows its ability to sell quality soccer players and buy enough to feed its domestic market: it is the leader in sales (1,749 players) and in purchases (784). In this hand in hand, which judging by the numbers is not such, 7 of 10 Brazilian clubs are the ones that spent the most money on the purchase of players in the orbit of Conmebol: Red Bull Bragantino was number one. River occupies the sixth place and Boca the tenth. When it comes to transferring, Boca leads the top ten with 19 players traded in 2021, and Newell’s was tenth, with 15 players.
The double question still in force is whether the Argentine soccer player has less quality than before – an issue that several trainers deny – or if the clubs fail to impose better conditions. The urgency to sell Argentine football is a fact that the buying clubs already know perfectly well.