Premier League transfers: who decides which players your club buys?

Who sits on Liverpool’s transfer committee and how much does Abramovich get involved in deals at Chelsea? We look at all 20 Premier League clubs


Arsène Wenger is the lord of the kingdom he has built over the past 19 years. His influence extends into every pore of the club and where transfers are concerned, the manager’s authority is total. Wenger always has the final say. The board have attempted to put support systems in place around him, such as their purchase of StatDNA, the football data analytics company, which can help to identify potential signings. But Wenger continues to rely on his own eyes, together with those of his scouts. Dick Law is the club’s chief negotiator. DH

Aston Villa

The club have created an informal committee to oversee transfers that includes Tom Fox, the chief executive, Patrick Reilly, the director of recruitment, Sharon Barnhurst, the club secretary, and Tim Sherwood, the manager. With the backing of Randy Lerner, Villa’s owner, Fox gets the financial framework of any transfer deal approved but is not involved in negotiating with the agent, which he leaves to Barnhurst and Reilly. Sherwood is not keen on working within a continental structure – Villa never filled the director of football operations position that was advertised at the start of the year – and likes full control of transfers. SJ


Having risen through the divisions at a tremendous pace, Bournemouth’s scouting department is still growing, with their recruitment overseen by the club’s legendary former striker, Steve Fletcher. It is down to the recruitment team to identify signings for the manager Eddie Howe, who has the final say on transfers. Howe also picks out players and Bournemouth’s approach is not to target the most obvious ones, but those who can fit neatly into their attractive style of play. That means they will not necessarily sign the best player in a league, preferring to think outside the box. JS


Eden Hazard
Chelsea’s Eden Hazard signs a new contract in the presence of director Marina Granovskaia who is now a key figure at Stamford Bridge. Photograph: Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC/Press Association Images

Chelsea boast an extensive network of scouts, at home and abroad, but first-team recruitment still relies heavily on input from the manager, José Mourinho, and the technical director, Michael Emenalo. They will target positions that need strengthening in the first-team and identify potential recruits, and then liaise with each other to compile a list of names to be submitted to the hierarchy.

The owner, Roman Abramovich, has the ultimate say as to which targets are pursued and, while there may on occasion be direct contact between management staff and the oligarch, the discussions tend to go through the multilingual director, Marina Granovskaia, who is an increasingly influential figure at Stamford Bridge. She is essentially responsible for negotiating all transfers in and out of the club these days, as well as player and management contract negotiations and re-negotiations. The Russian-born Canadian national, whose role as a senior advisor to Abramovich pre-dates the oligarch’s arrival in English football, speaks with rival clubs and with agents to see the transfers signed off. DF

Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace’s transfer policy has had to adapt over each year of the current owners’ five-season tenure as the club progressed from the lower reaches of the Championship into the Premier League with virtually a new manager at every turn. They employed Iain Moody as a sporting director in 2013-14 in recognition that their scouting structure needed upgrading given the calibre of player they are now targeting has risen, though he resigned and was not replaced last autumn. Alan Pardew, appointed at the turn of the year, now enjoys considerable influence in terms of identifying potential recruits, liaising with an evolving scouting department, with the negotiations over fees and salaries essentially undertaken by the co-chairman, Steve Parish. This summer, once again, the quality of player on their wish-list has stepped up, posing its own challenges in terms of salaries and, possibly, agents’ fees with Palace a club who are learning every transfer window. DF


Roberto Martínez
Everton manager Roberto Martínez enjoys control over transfers at Goodison Park. Photograph: Peter Powell/Epa

Part of the attraction of Everton for Roberto Martínez – like David Moyes before him – is the straightforward, clearly defined and even old-fashioned way the club operates in the transfer market. The manager has full authority on who comes into the club (in Martínez’s case, having consulted with his assistant manager Graeme Jones and the chief scout Kevin Reeves) and the chairman, Bill Kenwright, usually leads the negotiations. AH

Leicester City

Leicester have a team of technical scouts watching games via Wyscout, which provides access to videos and statistics of players all over the world, as well as talent spotters on the ground at home and overseas – all of which seems unlikely to change in the wake of Nigel Pearson’s sacking. As things stand Steve Walsh, the joint assistant manager and head of recruitment, views the lists of recommendations submitted and in consultation with the manager and Jon Rudkin, the director of football, decides what leads to follow up. Rudkin, after liaising with the club’s Thai owners, brokers the deals. SJ


Roberto Firmino
Liverpool recently concluded the £29m signing of Brazil’s Roberto Firmino. Photograph: Pablo Porciuncula/AFP/Getty Images

The future of Liverpool’s famed transfer committee was in question as the owners, Fenway Sports Group, conducted a review into last season’s flawed campaign but it has remained intact for the club’s decisive entry into this summer’s transfer market. Basically, since Brendan Rodgers became manager in 2012, it has worked like this: Rodgers, the head of recruitment Dave Fallows, the chief scout Barry Hunter, the head of performance and analysis Michael Edwards, the chief executive Ian Ayre and FSG’s president Mike Gordon comprise the group that decides Liverpool’s entire transfer strategy. AH

Manchester City

Txiki Begiristain
Left-right, Txiki Begiristain the director of football at Manchester City, Ferran Soriano the CEO and Vicky Kloss the chief communications look on Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Txiki Begiristain is the sporting director and the chief fixer of transfers for the club. The club work to the continental model of having expendable managers within an over-arching football structure. This means potential targets are identified in a fluid, quasi-committee basis, though Manuel Pellegrini would rarely have any player forced upon him by Begiristain or Ferran Soriano, the chief executive, who is the most powerful man on the ground at the Etihad Campus. JJ

Manchester United

Ed Woodward, the executive vice-chairman, has stated that all recruits are Louis van Gaal’s choices. The Dutchman identifies who he would like and Woodward’s charge is to bring them to Manchester United. Van Gaal’s status as one of the elite managers means he can wield this influence to act as an unofficial chief executive as he did when intervening to ensure Memphis Depay joined when the PSV Eindhoven forward might have signed for Liverpool or Paris Saint-Germain. JJ

Newcastle United

Steve McClaren may be on the St James’ Park board but the words “cosmetic” and “semantics” spring immediately to mind concerning the relationship between his directorship and transfers. In reality McClaren remains very much a European style head coach with transfer targets identified by Graham Carr, officially the chief scout but effectively the director of football. Although Mike Ashley, the owner, delegates the day to day running of the club to Lee Charnley – the managing director and the man responsible for getting Carr’s proposed deals across the line – he continues to have the final say on signings. One of the reasons for Alan Pardew’s departure is that he did not want some of Carr’s recruits – the £12m Rémy Cabella for instance. But Carr and McClaren have a better relationship and share closer football visions so the arrangement may work better. It will also help that Ashley is willing to relax a previous reluctance to sign players aged over 26 and of steering clear of the British market. LT

Norwich City

Norwich’s strategy has shifted slightly since Alex Neil became manager in January. Neil has the final say on all first-team recruitment: he identifies the players he requires and transfers are then worked on by the club’s football executive board. The chief executive, David McNally, is the man who leads negotiations and works to complete deals with other clubs. The first signing of Neil’s reign, Tony Andreu from his former club Hamilton, unmistakably bore the new manager’s hand.

Joining McNally on the football executive board are the technical director Ricky Martin and a yet-to-be-named head of recruitment (the position has been vacant since March). It was originally set up last summer to support Neil Adams, Neil’s predecessor, who was relatively inexperienced in a first-team management role. The idea was for a more corporate, shared approach to recruitment strategy, but Neil has been given greater autonomy and McNally was quick to confirm this upon his arrival. “Alex will decide players coming in and ones leaving,” he said. “The other people are there to support him. No way is anyone going to join the club without authorisation from the manager.” NA

Cédric Soares
Southampton signed Sporting Lisbon’s right-back Cédric Soares on a four-year contract last month before Nathaniel Clyne sealed his move to Liverpool. Photograph: Dennis Grombkowski/Bongarts/Getty Images


The club have a recruitment department, in which a team of analysts monitor players around the world and the data is stored in what is known as the “Black Box”. Succession planning is the buzz phrase and looking far ahead is key. If a player is about to leave, the idea is that the analysts have replacements already lined up. When the manager, Ronald Koeman, wants to sign a player, he and the executive director, Les Reed, specify the position and/or attributes required and the analysts then make suggestions. Reed does the negotiations. DH

Stoke City

Four parties have a say in the transfer process and meet regularly to discuss strategy. Mark Hughes, the manager, determines the attributes he is looking for in a particular position and then it is up to the scouting department, led by Mark Cartwright, Stoke’s technical director, to identify talent with those player profiles in mind and to draw up a list of possible options. With the financial parameters set by Stoke’s owners, the Coates family, Hughes puts the players in order of preference and Tony Scholes, the club’s chief executive, has the job of negotiating with agents and clubs over the salaries and transfer fees. Stoke only sign players who the manager wants. SJ


Jermain Defoe
Jermain Defoe proved a useful signing for Sunderland last season. Photograph: Lee Smith/Reuters

As sporting director, Lee Congerton – a former Chelsea chief scout and Hamburg technical director – is the man responsible for sourcing and securing signings. He reports to Margaret Byrne, the chief executive and Ellis Short, the owner, who has the final say on price. Yet while Dick Advocaat is, like Steve McClaren at Newcastle, primarily a “mud on boots” head coach he and Congerton work closely together and the sporting director is prepared to accept his advice. If theirs promises to be a collaborative relationship, things were much more strained between Congerton and Gus Poyet, Advocaat’s predecessor. Although Poyet was delighted when Congerton beat several rivals to Jermain Defoe’s signing, the pair generally disagreed over recruitment. LT

Swansea City

David Leadbeater, head of recruitment, Tim Henderson, technical recruitment scout, and George Foster, head of European scouting, are the key figures when it comes to the identification of players. Garry Monk, Swansea’s manager, also draws up his own targets. Swansea like to watch potential signings over a long period of time – André Ayew was tracked for two years and likewise Bafetimbi Gomis – and Monk is heavily involved in the final selection process. The names are fed to Huw Jenkins, the chairman, whose total control of negotiations expedites the process. Monk and Jenkins have to be in agreement for a player to be brought in. SJ


Daniel Levy has chopped and changed in search of the ideal structure, alternating between working with a sporting director or not. The chairman currently has one in Franco Baldini who, when he joined, believed that he would be the head of recruitment. Levy has since brought in Paul Mitchell as the head of recruitment, which has raised questions as to Baldini’s purpose. Mitchell arrived from Southampton, where he enjoyed a good working relationship with Mauricio Pochettino, the Tottenham manager. Pochettino says that the club have lists of targets in every position and it is Levy who invariably sets the parameters in the deals. DH


Luke Dowling, former head of recruitment at Portsmouth and Blackburn, was appointed as sporting director last September and concentrates on the domestic market, while chief scout Filippo Giraldi keeps an eye on the continent (though his role is likely to change if Nicola Salerno, who recently left his post as sporting director at Leeds, joins the club as is widely expected). Watford are owned by the same family that controls Udinese in Italy and Granada in Spain, and much of the process of identifying and recruiting players for all three sides still takes place in Udine, overseen by the former Napoli and Italy striker Andrea Carnevale – though it was interesting that Watford were the only one of the three to officially send scouts to the European Under-21 Championship. SB

West Bromwich Albion

Tony Pulis
Tony Pulis is all-powerful at West Brom after a summer of change at The Hawthorns. Photograph: BPI/Rex Shutterstock/Matt Bunn

Jeremy Peace, Albion’s chairman, decided to adopt what he described as a European model many years ago after becoming frustrated with the way managers were spending money but that structure, which saw a sporting or technical director sitting on the board, has just been shelved. The dismissals of Terry Burton, Albion’s technical director, and Mervyn Day, the club’s head of recruitment, mean that Tony Pulis has strengthened his powerbase and can exercise more control over transfers. Richard Garlick, director of football administration, handles negotiations and Peace must approve and sign off transfers, but Pulis now has a major influence over the whole process. SJ

West Ham United

The club’s recruitment is now run by David Moyes’s old scout at Everton, Tony Henry, who arrived in east London last year. West Ham are beginning to broaden their horizons and have already signed Pedro Obiang from Sampdoria and Dimitri Payet from Marseille. There is a growing focus on youth and pace. The co-owner, David Sullivan, also involves himself in transfers. He took the credit for the signing of Diafra Sakho last summer – there were suggestions that Sam Allardyce was unsure about the Senegalese striker – and Mauro Zarate said that he was Sullivan’s choice. However Allardyce’s replacement, Slaven Bilic, will be able to use his knowledge of eastern European and Turkish football to spot players. JS


Nick Ames, Simon Burnton, Dominic Fifield, Andy Hunter, David Hytner, Jamie Jackson, Stuart James, Jacob Steinberg and Louise Taylor

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