This article was first published yesterday in our bespoke Sports newsletter The Fixture. You can sign up in seconds to receive it straight to your inbox every weekday here.

The transfer window closed this week with yet another round of nausea-inducing spending in the English Premier League. £1b passed out of the bank accounts of the league's clubs with even unfashionable outfits such as Bournemouth chucking £50m at players in a bid to secure their top-flight status for next season. Of course, one club stood above all others in their obscene spending. Chelsea topped the list with a spree that, at more than £200m, surpassed not just every other club in England but all of the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, and Ligue 1 combined, as well.

It caused outrage. The La Liga president Javier Tebas, pictured above, retweeted a video of the Spanish league's corporate general director Javier Gomez saying that Premier League clubs are “injecting money not generated by the club for it to spend, which puts the viability of the club at risk if the shareholder leaves. In our opinion, that is cheating, because it drags down the rest of the leagues.”

It was a bit rich coming from the head honchos of a league containing the teams which started the trend of fiscal recklessness. Barcelona and Real Madrid became bywords for lavish transfers in the early 2000s and operated policies that expressly sought to bring in the biggest names in world football as they battled each other in an arms race which, ultimately, dragged the rest of Europe's teams into a spending war. It is only now that neither team is as financially dominant as it once was, nor as all-conquering on the pitch, that we are supposed to fall in behind the Spanish giants and nod our heads sagely. 

That said, Tebas and his cohorts' wider point is solid. Three years ago, the big English clubs were pleading poverty in the midst of the pandemic, a time when Liverpool and Tottenham, two of the wealthiest clubs in Europe, sought to lay off staff and clubs took soft government loans when millions of people were uncertain if they would have jobs to go back to.

The Fixture digresses, however. The transfer market is now a multi-headed beast: clubs employ a multitude of staff to seek out bargains, others have transfer strategies that almost entirely underpin their business models. In an ultra-competitive market, new ideas are floated and under-scouted markets are exploited, all with the aim of getting an edge on the competition.

In London, a recent tech start-up is seeking to place itself at the centre of a new way of scouting which could radically transform the future of how some transfers work. Nordensa, which calls itself a football intelligence company, wants to exploit an untapped niche market: up-and-coming talents who are not based in European football. The figures show that Premier League clubs – unlike those in say Scotland – rarely look beyond the traditional markets for players. In 2022, fewer than 10 transfers to England's top flight came from outside Europe. This is where Nordensa plays its part by offering supporters the chance to crowdfund deals by placing bets on players with the potential to make it big.


Adrain Docea, Nordensa's founder, says “A lot of talented kids drop football before they really have a chance to shine. I think that’s the worst news for football: Some of the biggest stars in the world, we will never know their names.”

Talent is scouted using scouting software from a third-party data provider of televised games in target areas, chiefly South America and Africa. Players are judged on around 60 measurements and a list of potential recruits is created. Nordensa then links them to clubs with fans funding the player who receives a one-year contract with a major European club. If those players hit the big time, then their funders hit the jackpot as well, owning a piece of the player's success with money back if the player gets signed at the end of his year, and three per cent of the player's salary for five years.

“It’s pretty cheap to get the player from the next village,” adds Docea. “But it’s really expensive to pay for a Colombian player for one year, and maybe he will not fit in, and then you will have wasted a lot of money just to test one young player. That’s exactly the niche that we’re trying to fill.”

The platform is yet to launch and Docea is collecting names and emails of interested parties. A look at the money being lavished on salaries for players, tells you he is unlikely to have too many problems convincing supporters to sign up.