Transfer window Q&A: How will the summer market work?

With the coronavirus pandemic pushing back the start of the 2020-21 season until September for most leagues, there are major changes to the transfer window as the current campaign runs into August.

The window was due to open in most leagues on July 1 and end on Aug. 31. So how will it work? And when will it close?

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When will the summer transfer window officially open?

It will be different across leagues but most leagues have now confirmed their dates.

Premier League: July 27
La Liga: Aug. 4
Bundesliga: Opened July 15
Serie A: Sept. 1
Ligue 1: Aug. 15

FIFA allowed associations to open their window up to four weeks before the end of the 2019-20 campaign -- though no major league chose to do this and FIFA had stated any player signed during this period will not be eligible to play until 2020-21.

France, which saw its season curtailed due to the coronavirus, opened its domestic window from June 8 to July 9 to help Ligue 1 clubs fill the financial void created by the pandemic, and give players the chance to find new clubs. The window will reopen on Aug. 15.

The Bundesliga opened its transfer window for just one day on July 1, to enable players to register with new clubs on the day contracts are due to begin. It then reopened on July 15.

The Premier League window opened the day after the season finished, on July 27. La Liga's window opened on Aug. 4.

Serie A will not officially open its window open until Sept. 1, with the end of the 2019-20 season technically set as Aug. 31. However, we are likely to see many deals being announced in advance with the Italian top-flight season now concluded.

How long will the transfer window last?

FIFA says it can be no longer than 12 weeks, noting that leagues that have had "all or part of an open registration period directly impacted by COVID-19" can request to move the window to new dates during the same season.

The summer window could also be split into two parts of no more than 12 weeks -- so perhaps six weeks starting now, and another six weeks to align with other leagues. Germany is effectively having a split window by opening just on July 1, before closed and re-opening for the main window on July 15. France did the same by having an initial domestic window for a month, before reopening in August.

The worldwide registration calendar lists all confirmed window dates.

So when will the transfer window actually close?

UEFA has called on all leagues to adopt a harmonised transfer deadline day of Monday, Oct. 5, with the date for squad registrations for the Champions League and Europa League set for Oct. 6. This follows the usual process of a transfer deadline around two weeks before the Champions League begins. The 2020-21 group stage will start on Tuesday, Oct. 20.

England, Italy, Germany, Spain and France have already announced the window would close on Oct. 5.

The Premier League will open its window for 10 weeks through to Oct. 5, but will then operate a domestic-only window through to Oct. 16 during which clubs can only trade with EFL clubs (so not internationally or with other Premier League clubs).

The Bundesliga fully utilised the 12 weeks by opening for one day on July 1, and re-opening on July 15 for another 11 weeks and 6 days to the deadline of Oct. 5.

When will clubs complete signings?

Clubs were able to agree deals to sign players -- for next season. For instance, on July 1 Hakim Ziyech moved from Ajax Amsterdam to Chelsea for €44 million while Timo Werner also signed from RB Leipzig. Also, Francisco Trincao had already agreed to join Barcelona from Braga in a €31m deal.

While FIFA cannot legally prevent deals being completed, it "strongly recommends that priority be given to the former club to complete its domestic season with its original squad." In the case of Trincao, it was agreed he would stay with Braga until the Portuguese season finished on July 26.

However, Werner did not stay with RB Leipzig to play out the Champions League knockout rounds in August, and instead has already linked up with the Blues.

Can clubs sign any players to play this season?

No. Even though the Dutch Eredivisie season was curtailed, which means Ziyech became a Chelsea player on July 1, he could not be registered. The same applies to Werner even though the Bundesliga season finished on June 27.

This is also the case for any player who is out of contract on June 30. Free agents who were released at the end of the month, say from clubs in France, Germany or the Netherlands, can be signed but cannot play for their new club in July and August in the 2019-20 season. FIFA states that "the engagement of an out-of-contract player is permitted. The player shall only be eligible to participate in domestic competitions for their new club in the 2020/21 season."

There is one provision that allows a player who is released as a result of COVID-19 to sign for a new club this season, but that player's contract must state "at the end of the season" with no specific reference to any date, which is not how contracts in the major leagues work.

What about players out of contract or on loan?

FIFA has made "recommendations regarding the extension of expiring agreements and delay of new agreements," namely that players should stay with the club they are at until the 2019-20 season is complete. The same goes for players who are out on loan. However, that is only a guideline and FIFA admits it is "has no authority ... to unilaterally amend the terms and conditions of [employment] agreements.," so it would need the player and both clubs to accept.

It means some players may have returned to their parent club on July 1 when the loan agreement expired, and others may not have agreed to play on for their club after their contract expired on June 30. FIFA has no control over this. For instance, Adam Lallana continued to play for Liverpool beyond his contract expiry but Nathaniel Clyne left Anfield.

There's also the example of William Saliba, who was on loan at Saint-Etienne from Arsenal. With the Ligue 1 season curtailed returned to the Emirates. FIFA has created a provision whereby such players can be re-registered with their parent club. However, FIFA stresses that registration is "distinct from eligibility to be fielded in matches" and that each national association should "ensure that the sporting integrity of its domestic competitions is preserved." As such, returning loan players would only be allowed to be registered in exceptional circumstances. The Premier League indicated Saliba would not be able to play for the Gunners.

What about players in the Champions League and Europa League?

Both tournaments will play out through August, but players should remain with their current clubs and see out the season. But this is only a guideline, as we've seen with Werner joining Chelsea even though RB Leipzig are in the quarterfinals of the Champions League. FIFA could not stop Chelsea from completing the move and the player from leaving his previous club before the Champions League begins again.

Barcelona midfielder Arthur has joined Juventus in a transfer worth up to €82 million, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the other direction -- but while they were due to see out the domestic and European seasons at their current clubs, Arthur has refused to return to Barca for the UCL knockout matches.

Clubs will also not be able to make signings to play in Europe in August.

Has anything else changed?

Yes. Usually players can only play for two clubs in one "season" -- and a season begins in July. FIFA has temporarily changed this to three to account for a player who has played for another club in July and August to finish the 2019-20 campaign.

As an example, Trincao could play for Braga in July, Barcelona in the first half of the 2020-21 and then go on loan to another club in January. But Ziyech could not play for Chelsea in the first half of the new season, be sold to another club at the start of January, and move again at the end of January.

It also means a player can finish the 2019-20 season on loan at one club, play for their parent club in the first half of 2020-21, and then move to another team in January. An example here would be Dean Henderson of Manchester United, who is on loan at Sheffield United. He could play for the Blades, then for United at the start of next season before going out on a new loan for the second half.