FROM scouting to stadium unveiling, it takes Real Madrid and Barcelona just seven steps to seal the deal.
The two giants of world football, known for spending the big bucks, have worked out the perfect formula in courting their top targets.
And although finances may be tight after the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the LaLiga sides are already planning for next season.
We are by no means suggesting any tapping up is going on by either club, for that would be against Fifa rules.
But Real and Barca know the main men they want, with Erling Haaland and Kylian Mbappe linked with moves and Sergio Aguero already swapping the Etihad for Camp Nou.
This is how they start that process.
STEP 1: Identifying Target
This is the hard part, taking a global scouting network, hours of player identification, notes and analysis.
The player must fit a position of need, play with a certain style and, ideally, fit in with the club philosophy.
But once the two Spanish giants have honed in on their targets, it’s very difficult to resist the lure of the Camp Nou or the Bernabeu.
In recent years, they have been rarely frustrated once the scouts have done their homework and found their target.
STEP 2: Line up legends
The next part of the chase is all about making the player feel wanted, like the move would be the greatest thing to happen in his career.
Take Philippe Coutinho’s move to Barca in 2018, as an example.
Was there a former team-mate in the current Barca squad that can tell the player how good it is at the Nou Camp? Yep, Luis Suarez.
And over at Madrid, there have been attempts to lure the top talent to the club in the past.
While still at the Bernabeu, five-time Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo signed a Real Madrid jersey and sent it to Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.
“Keep up the good work,” he wrote. “And come do it here,” was the suggestion.
STEP 3: Get in his ear
Now comes the real graft.
Does the current crop have a former team-mate or countryman capable of working the charm, telling the target how good life is in Spain, how lush the grass is on this side of the fence?
Madrid had just that man when it came to bringing Hazard to the club.
“It would be nice of course,” agent Thibaut Courtois told VTM Niews while discussing his former team-mate and fellow Belgian’s chances of moving to Madrid before he swapped Stamford Bridge for the Bernabeu.
“Eden is a top player and also my buddy, so if he came here it would be fun, but he has to make his choices.”
The seed had been planted. Next summer, the two would play together.
STEP 4: Offensively low first bid
This is when fantasy becomes reality.
It is easy to palm away gossip and rumour but a proper bid sends a message to the player that their new-found dream is possible.
Barca’s first offer for Coutinho was £72million and they knew there was no chance of bagging the brilliant Brazilian at that price.
But it was all part of a scheme to ensure Coutinho was thinking about the move in the coming days, weeks and months.
Best case scenario is the player gets so tempted a transfer request is submitted before the next available window.
STEP 5: Awkward photo opportunity
Arsenal fans will know all about this one.
If you’re a Barcelona player you HAVE to carry a spare shirt with you all the time.
Especially during World Cup celebration parades.
ESPECIALLY if the player is not set to join in the immediate future.
We saw it with Cesc Fabregas back in 2010, a year before his move to the Camp Nou, when Carles Puyol was seen forcing a Barca jersey over the Arsenal man’s head.
STEP 6: Catalan press (and sponsors) on board
For Barca, it’s all about AS and Sport, while Marca are key for Madrid.
These papers have long been the go-to place for news about the two clubs.
And if they want a story out there, it tends to end up with the local papers first.
Check their websites right now and see how many stories there are about Real and Barça targets.
It might be about how much money they earn, how long the contract will be, what role they can expect to play, or how the dressing room is looking forward to welcoming him.
STEP 7: Inevitable unveiling
Look away now fans of Man United, Chelsea and Liverpool, for the end is inevitable.
This is the bit where Real and Barca get their man.
We’ve seen it with Fabregas and Coutinho.
It may take longer than anticipated but like the rich kids of Instagram, these guys always get what they want.