What happens in a football medical?

During the two annual transfer windows, British Premier League football clubs scramble in the bid to add a new star player to their ranks. Even after the transfer fee and player wages have been agreed there’s still one more hurdle to jump over, that of the medical. Famous failed medicals from the past include Loic Remy’s proposed move to Liverpool in 2014 and Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s cancelled transfer to Manchester United in 2000. But what are these procedures and why are they so important? Read on to find out more…


What’s in a medical?

Medical procedures vary from club to club but they are ultimately designed to assess whether a player’s health is in tip-top shape. Essentially, the new signing needs to be in good enough health to warrant the transfer due to be paid to bring them to the club.

First, a physical examination of the player’s body is carried out. This can include MRI scans, blood and urine tests, dental exams, body fat levels and cardiac screening and can take up to four hours. Next up, are the fitness tests undertaken by club physios to see if the player is fit enough to play 90 minutes. Isokinetic testing uses a variety of machines such as a VO2 max treadmill that measures oxygen intake, and other devices that help test the strength of particular muscle groups. The player may have a history of injuries in a particular area and is it important that these don’t flare up again if the club is to sign on the dotted line. Medicals vary from player to player too with tests on goalkeepers more likely to focus on their hands and arms as much as their legs for instance. The whole process can take up to 48 hours if the club wants to be sure but this may be reduced if transfer deadline day is on the horizon and a star striker is needed to help fight relegation!


What happens in a football medical?


Did you know?

George Boyd’s move from Peterborough to Nottingham Forest in 2013 broke down after the Scottish winger failed an eye test


Why are some medicals prone to failure?

Sometimes a club can come across an issue they weren’t expecting, which can scupper the deal. A player with a history of knee injuries may be too much a risk while it’s not uncommon that other areas of the body can be found to be injured. Each club is different and will taken different risks but if a player has a high chance of being injured due to their muscle make-up, the deal may be called off, especially if millions are on the table. However, if the club is desperate enough, they may sign an already injured player as they try and turn their fortunes around.


What happens in a football medical?
Loic Remy’s move to Liverpool broke down before signing for the Red’s rivals Chelsea a month later


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