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Finalising a transfer and transitioning to life at a new club. How does it work?

By Danny Karbassiyoon

Danny Karbassiyoon is a former professional footballer with Arsenal who was forced to retire at 22 due to recurring knee injuries. Soon after hanging up his boots, he was hired as a scout for Arsenal and spent 7 years scouting the Americas full time before recently moving back to London.

I’m venturing off the path a bit here with the theme of my previous posts, but as the winter window has now closed and a selection of players from around the world have found new homes in the Premier League, I figured it might be interesting to write about the idea of finalising a transfer and transitioning to life at a new club.

Just like in any aspect of football, not all transfers are the same, and some are far easier than others when it comes to getting settled and acclimating to a new team. Transfers within the Premier League can often be much easier than foreign transfers as players leaving one Premier League club for another understand the demands of the league and the country they reside in.

Though difficulties will always arise when moving from one city to another, the biggest challenge a player faces is acclimatising himself within the team and feeling comfortable within the dressing room dynamic. When footballers are happy playing their football, they will usually be happy in their life off the pitch.

Foreigners leaving one league and coming to the Premier League face quite a challenge in fulfilling the promise expected of them by their new fans, manager, and club in general, but one of the biggest challenges comes away from the pitch. Though it may sound silly at times, adjusting to the weather and English culture can prove to be quite a challenge.

One of the questions I can’t help but ask when watching players in any region is will they be able to mentally and physically cope with England off the pitch? Would a kid accustomed to 350 days of sunshine a year in southern California or Mexico be able to deal with the rain, wind, and cold in England? Some can, others can’t – and it is generally up to a scout to understand a player in this way before he even thinks of recommending him.

Then of course comes adjusting to the football. England’s top flight games are fast, hectic, and demanding, and competition for places is always incredibly high. Coming into a new dressing room, especially in the middle of the season can be intimidating and players need to be both mentally and physically ready to dive right in and contribute in a positive way.

I personally joined Ipswich Town on loan from Arsenal about a year and a half into my contract and was thrown straight into the mix from the get go. I was brought in to help provide more options for Joe Royle as Town pushed for promotion in the 2004-2005 season and my first contact with the team was in the dressing room at Portman Road ahead of our game against Wigan on the night of December 21st.

At the highest level, players will generally know what the  players that are brought in are capable of doing, but for lesser known players, proving to the team that you are capable of maintaining and improving the level early is vital. Regardless of your name, showing your teammates that you belong through your ability is the best way to earn their respect and be accepted.

As a 17 year old on trial at Arsenal, I didn’t want to believe Steve Rowley when he told me that it’d probably take a year for me to get settled and comfortable. As a 17 year old, I felt like I knew everything and didn’t want to hear someone tell me that I wouldn’t hit the ground running as soon as I signed my contract. A year later, after signing and moving to London, I quickly realized Steve was right.

Adjusting to the new, incredibly high standard of football at Arsenal was draining both physically and mentally. I quickly lost my confidence on the pitch, which soon started affecting me off the pitch. Was I good enough to be at Arsenal? Did I make the right choice? Would I ever get comfortable enough to express myself on the pitch the way I knew how? I thought about this often in my first year at the Club, and only overcame these issues nearly 8 months into my contract. Only when I was able to fully believe in myself again was I able to feel truly comfortable both on and off the pitch.

I always keep an eye on new signings, both at Arsenal and elsewhere, for this reason. The Premier League has seen some exceptional talent come and go, sometimes with the player going way sooner than expected simply because he couldn’t find his feet and settle.

One of the greatest things about the world’s top leagues and top teams is that they bring the world’s best players from every corner of the world together to compete and ultimately entertain. While many of these players make it look so easy week in and week out, the initial challenges of getting settled and winning the trust and belief of their teammates, manager, fans, and ultimately themselves can be very difficult.

Danny’s autobiography, with a Foreword by Arsène Wenger will be published by Untold Arsenal as a paperback and on Kindle in the near future.  Full details of all of Untold Arsenal’s books, including Arsenal: the long sleep 1953 – 1970; a view from the terrace which has an introduction by Bob Wilson are available on the site.

You might also enjoy The date no Arsenal fan will ever forget.  By Bob Wilson

Earlier articles by Danny on Untold Arsenal

From the anniversary files (more on the home page)

  • 9 February 2007: Arsenal signed a deal with Colorado Rapids owned by Stan Kroenke; Arsenal’s first venture into the USA and the first meeting with the man who eventually bought the club.
  • 9 February 2009: Joe Haverty died aged 72.  (Also reported as 7 Feb).   He played 114 games for Arsenal and scored 25 goals, before moving on to Millwall, Celtic and Bristol Rovers and Shelbourne, before moving to the USA in December 1966.  He returned to Ireland in 1969, with Shamrock Rovers before moving on to Drogheda.


24 comments to Finalising a transfer and transitioning to life at a new club. How does it work?

  • Tai

    Great article Danny.

    Hoping to read more from a real pro.

  • WalterBroeckx

    I have been told it looks much easier on football manager or Fifa… 😉
    Great article once again Danny. Thanks for enlightening us on this subject.

  • Gf60

    Very interesting Danny. Thanks.

  • Rich

    Good stuff.

    Think the combination of social media, old media, ubiquity of football and money in the game is pushing people further and further towards viewing players as commodities and one’s who should behave like, well, machines.

    Throw in video games and the fact a lot of people, like me, don’t attend matches but watch huge amounts of football on television and I think it makes people even more distant from the reality of playing the game and much more likely to have a very low tolerance level of mistakes.

    I think football is actually way more exciting if you can keep in mind the human element. (Hence, I really appreciate true insights into the game).

    Do that and, among other things, you’ve a chance of appreciating good bits of play even on the bad days for the team. It makes what the best players can do even more awesome and adds a new dimension to watching.

    Watched a Spanish game while stoned * years back and for a while there I was able to appreciate every touch and piece of play as it really was, effortlessly comparing it to what myself and fellow amateurs could do and keeping in mind that it was all done against elite players who were utterly determined to stop the opposition, in front of an audience of 50,000 people. Intense and sensational while the spell lasted.

    I’m not sure at least half the people who watch football want that sort of thing,though. It’s almost inevitable you will be more sympathetic towards players, and if only a winning machine- no ifs, buts, excuses, etc- will do for you that’s an unwelcome development.

    * Don’t know if that’s recommendable for scouts, mind; but Ramos, at Seville at time, did stand out in the game as an absolute monster of a player

  • Jambug


    Great article.

    I would like to ask a question if you don’t mind.

    I obviously don’t know if you will be able to answer it or not, that will depend I guess where you where at the time.

    It’s regarding Rayes.

    I loved him and think he could of been a great, but I got the impression, from what I saw and from snippets I read, that he just could not settle in England.

    I heard he hated the weather and missed his family, especially his Mother whom he was apparently very close to. I got the impression his partner was giving him a hard time as well.

    My point is, despite the physical assaults he was suffering at the hands of the Premiership Neanderthals, I think he would of got through it, if he had acclimatised to England.

    I think that’s how important being settled is. It can make or break a player and I think Rayes is one that it broke.

    If Rayes had settled. Loved the Country. Didn’t mind the Weather (who can love that?). Handled the family separation. Had a happy partner. He would of dealt with the footballing problems much better.

    Rayes is one I think we lost to the issues you highlight.

    Did someone at Arsenal make a mistake in missing the potential of these issues arising for Rayes?

    A lot of superstition I know but I just wondered if you could shed any light on it because for me it was such a shame.

  • colario


    Arsene answered your question long long ago.

    I forget his exact words. May be they are googleable. I don’t have time right now find out.

    What Arsene said was along the lines of.

    What every footballer needs is a good home life.

    Confidence in his ability and the players he plays along side.

    The full support of the manager and his staff.

    When Arsene can he tries not to have player in the squad who is not the only one to speak his language. Thus when Arsene persuaded Glen Hoddle to play for him at Monaco. Mark Hately also joined the squad. At one time we had two not one Japanese player.

    When challenged about the fact there wasn’t one English player in the 11 on the pitch or on the bench, Arsene replied:

    ‘When I consider a player I don’t think about his passport.’

    Arsene does think of every thing else not only if the player will benefit the club but every need the player has off the pitch.

    Tony Adams tells of how when Patrick V. joined the club (Arsene was still in Japan at the time) they tested him. Was he up to it? Could he stand up for himself. PV very quickly showed that he could. Tony commented ‘We very quickly knew he would make it at Arsenal. And so he did.

  • Jambug

    Typo: A lot of ‘Supposition’ Damn auto correct.

  • Jambug


    Thanks for your input.

    “What Arsene said was along the lines of.

    What every footballer needs is a good home life.

    Confidence in his ability and the players he plays along side.

    The full support of the manager and his staff.”

    But that doesn’t answer the question as to what of that list was missing for Rayes?

  • Rich

    Good photo of Flamini challenge (copy and paste into address bar)

    Sticking it here so hopefully more of you can see it.

    I do not regard this as proof it can’t be a red. It’s simply a very good piece of evidence when considering whether it is or not, and also a potent reminder of how media can choose how to present things.

    If they really wanted to give you the best chance to understand something, and supposedly they are unbiased operators who live to do just that (let’s pretend), and if they’ve taken the time to discuss the incident ,you’d think they’d at least show this photo/still as well as any from which it looks bad (or worst)

  • Jambug


    That photo does help to show that the Bournemouth player was in reality in very little danger of being injured.

    BUT, it does not address the issue of ‘inherent danger’.

    It is a quandary, and I confess I can see both sides, but I do still lean towards a ‘Red Card’.

    My reasoning is this.

    If a player put in challenges like that, all the time, no matter how far from the opposing player he normally was, eventually he would get it wrong and catch the player.

    And that’s the point. With that type of challenge you only have to get it wrong once and you can end a players career. You don’t have to ‘mean it’. You don’t have to be ‘that sort of player’. It’s just that that kind of tackle, no matter what, is ‘inherently’ a leg breaker.

    That is why it is outlawed.

    In the same way there is a 30 MPH speed limit down high streets. There is a reason you shouldn’t do 50mph because it’s ‘inherently’ dangerous.

    It is not an excuse to say it was 3 am in the morning officer, or I could see there was nobody around.

    That is not the point. The point is, the day will come when there is somebody around, only you didn’t see them. Yes it was 3 am but the drunk had just left the party.

    And when this happens and you are doing 30mph you may be able to avoid the person, and if you don’t you will hit them at a reasonably slow speed.

    If you are doing 50mph you will kill them.

    The law, or rule, is entirely about the ‘inherent’ danger of the action, irrespective of it’s actual consequences.

    Long winded I know, but that’s how I see it.

  • Pete

    Colario – and that is why Wenger bought Remi Garde at the same time as Vieira!

  • colario

    I didn’t answer that question because I don’t know the answer.
    In game 49 he was kicked off the park. Enough to put any skillful footballer of English football. In my opinion.

  • Jambug


    I know.

    It was a disgrace and quite possibly the final nail in the coffin so to speak, as far as Rayes himself was concerned, and was right at the forefront of my thinking when posing the question to Danny.

    Would he of been able to get through that if he was more ‘at home’ at Arsenal, and in broader terms in England?

    If you are settled and happy in your life then dealing with such adversity must be easier?

    And don’t get me wrong, if he was perfectly happy in his personal life and just thought to himself ‘I don’t need this shit’ then he has no argument from me.

    Given the theme of Dannys article I just wanted his take on it because personally I think his personal life, rather than the thugs, was behind him not become the ‘great’ I thought he was capable of becoming.


    And just to add, Red, Yellow, whatever, as usual that is not the real issue here is it?

    It’s the yet again disproportionate way any transgression, perceived or otherwise, by our players is highlighted to the extreme, whereas similar or worse, perpetrated against us, or elsewhere, is summarily dismissed out of hand, to the point of being completely ignored.

    Cahill….Totally ignored.

    Costa…..Excused as it’s part of his ‘make up’.

    Flamini and Giuroud…….Should be shot !

  • Goonermikey

    Great article Danny.

    Sadly I’m sure there are AAA’s out there who know differently to you how it all works…..they’re bound to given they know more about managing a football club than a professional manager…..and they have the backing of a load know-it-all “journalists”, Piers (mega-ego) Morgan and a couple of blokes they work with at the supermarket.

    Thanks again.

  • Rich


    Good explanation of your thinking and I can’t disagree with any of that.

    I suppose what I fall back on is the fact that, over the years, it actually SHOULD even out, i.e all clubs should- decision-making, chance, human perception, etc being what they are- get away with a similar amount of things. I’m convinced that absolutely isn’t the case with us so find it hard to accept a wrong has been done when there’s a rare instance of us not facing the severest punishment possible.

    An admission right there that I’m unwilling or not able to judge that one incident purely on its own merits. Then there’s the whole sickening hypocrisy, bias, selectivity and maybe worse in the media. Which again feeds into how i look at something like the Flamini challenge.

    Lastly, you should know you’re safe From accusations of long-windedness from me at least.

    I think when discussing any complex matter, a ‘good few words’ are normally required to stand a chance of doing the job properly, but then I would say that!

  • Al

    Rich & Jambug
    Looking at the picture gosling has got both feet off the ground too, although his studs are not facing the opposing player. He is also too far for flamini to make contact. My queation is if he is airborne with both feet of the ground, and landed on or near the ball then he should also be guilty of going in two footed? So did he also land at or near the ball? Or did he land down and then make a second move which brought his foot closer to Flamini’s? Coz from this image he would have to have made a second jump in flaminis direction to get closer. Flamini’s feet are at an angle that shows his motion was not going to go towards gosling anymore. So for the two to have eventually come together it suggests to me it was gosling who made further movement towards Flamini from this point as Flamini’s studs are almost touching the ground at an angle that would make any further foward movement to reach gosling very difficult. Sorry I only started watching around minute 12 or thereabouts so missed this incident. But the point I’m trying to make is if gosling also reached Flamini in this single movement then he was just as guilty as Flamini. If he landed then made further movement towards Flamini whose feet were already ‘planted’ on the ground then he had no business putting his feet there.

    Wenger said after viewing the incident again a red would have been harsh. Wenger is an honesty man when it comes to these issues so that lends me to think a yellow was sufficient. But again I’m relying on still images and what a manager said, so might be wrong..

  • Al

    Lots of typos, that’s what happens when you compose a post using a phone 🙂 But hope you get the point I was trying to make.

  • Al

    Thanks Danny. A very interesting article. One which i could almost say i can identify with, albeit from a completely different angle. As someone who was born in climates where the sun shines throughout the year with average temperatures in the mid 20s I fully understand how difficult it can be to adjust just to the weather alone. Throw into the mix that you’re in a new country, city, foreign language, with no family it can be a very difficult time. And not forgetting that these players usually are in their 20s, and not 40s, when they make these moves, a time when they’re not yet fully learned to become independent (some will not even have lived by themselves in their home countries at this point), its easy to see how daunting this can be.

    That some manage to do it all in less than is remarkable, and should be applauded. It’s a huge challenge.

  • Al

    I’m with you Jambug that Reyes couldn’t settle in England. The roughhouse treatment certainly added to an issue that was already there; being home sick.

  • Mandy Dodd

    Thanks Danny, as ever, food for thought.
    Not all transfers work…..and young players face a hell of a battle…some can shine initially, but it is surely tough going for them to maintain it.
    Interesting Rowleys comment about taking a year to adapt.
    As for Reyes, have certainly read he was homesick, missed his family and environment, I am sure the media hijacking that incident with the Spain manager over Henry…..Reyes role looked more innocent than was made out, tho We read Henry was not impressed., if so, maybe the older man should have applied context rather than the demands of the ego…but what do I know, wasn’t there!
    Then, the hoax call over Real Madrid. Think Reyes was a young lad, taken advantage of by the media, and English footballs innate desire to stifle the talents of supremely gifted foreigners, especially if they play for Arsenal.
    Would be interesting to hear Danny’s thoughts

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Thanks , Danny , a great insight into a new players challenges in a different environment .

  • Rich


    I was tempted to interpret the photo that way,too. But you can’t tell from a picture what momentum either player has. Gosling has to land somewhere. Flamini is bound to carry on a bit (as it happens, not far at all) from there.

    After a lot of resistance, I can pretty much accept it as a red. But not because it was dangerous (it wasn’t). More so because I accept the argument it is right to strictly deal with two-footers in an effort to discourage them and that this could save a bad injury or two over time.

    The video shows how safe from injury Gosling was and that he would have seen well in advance Flamini was diving in like that, leaving him enough time to ensure he was safe. He did so and ignored the ball in order to make some contact (not dangerous) with Flamini, safely away from the force of the challenge, up near Flamini’s knee by the look of it.

    In other words, he knew he wasn’t getting the ball and it might be dangerous to try so he safely put a leg in to see if he could get the red.

    Instinctive maybe but clever I guess. I find it unlikely it caused him any pain whatsoever, so the staying down afterwards would be another effort to induce the red.

  • Rich


    Couple more things (I know, can’t help it).

    According to the rules about force in challenges, I’m pretty sure a ref could/should punish people for strong/ dangerous challenges even when the opponent, seeing or sensing it coming, clears out of the way.

    In reality, though, it’s quite a regular occurrence for a player, defenders especially, to build up speed and fly in early, and for the other guy to not contest it because it would clearly be bad news for him to do so. I spot these ones and wonder about them. Is it right for someone not to go for a ball they can reach simply because they can sense the clear and obvious danger there? Probably not, not by the rules anyway.

    Experience tells defenders when to do this and attackers when to leave it, commentators ignore it and never say, ‘jeez, if he’d gone for that ball, which he could reach, that challenge would’ve been extremely dangerous’. That’s just the state of play and the more aggressive and cynical players know their rules, norms and benchmarks very well.

    Cahill for instance would have known that even Atkinson might have to produce red if the hit on Sanchez had shown both feet, even if that were not a bit more dangerous than going in with one. Ditto Mikel when he flew in this weekend with more force and carrying more danger than Flamini, but with only one set of studs showing and the other leg tucked under him.

    I remember a Utd vs Tottenham game a few years back when Vidic made two of the most thunderous tackles you’ll ever see. Again though it was a case that if the Spurs players had focused solely on the ball they would have been in terrible trouble.

    It’s just the game, there are lots of these inconsistencies there and would be even if the refs were fantastic. As they aren’t and ,when it comes to us, are close to the opposite, it was not smart at all from Flamini and we can thank our lucky stars that the ref read perfectly well the danger level of the challenge instead of going with the norms of the game.

    My ideal would be if all refs were good and trustworthy enough to be able to judge every tackle properly for true danger levels, etc, meaning the yellow here was totally correct.

    …but, to illustrate the dangers of that and why it isn’t a good idea, look at this one from the same player, a certain red, which, if refs were given more freedom to use their own judgement on two footers, a ref here would be more likely to get wrong

  • Al

    Thanks Rich. After seeing the video I can see it could easily have been interpreted to be a red. And I agree the other player clearly saw that he wasn’t going to get hurt but decided to leave his leg in, to get Flamini sent off. It maybe that the ref also had that view.