4 June 2023

Sunday, 11:58


Record €5m transfer from Garabagh



Kady Borges of the Azerbaijani football club Garabagh, who has made headlines lately, will continue his career in Russia. The Brazilian player has fallen short of expectations in the first few months in Azerbaijan to become a key player of the Aghdam club just a year later.


Deal of the century

Kady Borges Malinowski was transferred to FC Garabagh from the Portuguese club Vilafrancense playing in the country's second division. As a player of Vilafrancense, Borges have managed to score five goals in 33 games. In 2021, fans criticised the club for showing stinginess during the transfer. Meanwhile, Garabagh failed to become the national champion. In the new season, however, Kady could transform himself into a midfield leader, playing both at centre-back and on the right flank. He helped the team reach the Conference League play-offs, become champions and win the National Cup. Soon after succeeding as a key player of the team, the management of the club signed a new contract with Kady. Most importantly, he was assigned a transfer price of €5m.

This year opened a new page in Kady's life, when the Russian club Krasnodar announced their willingness to pay €5m for him. Russians played an instrumental role in securing the deal, promising Kady an annual salary of €1m. The deal was the most expensive transfer in the history of Azerbaijani football—Kady was bought for €150,000 and resold after two years for €5m! It is worth mentioning the coherent and systematic workflow by the coaching staff of FC Garabagh that contributed to the success of the deal.

Last summer, some European clubs expressed their intention to buy the midfielder, but Garabagh did not agree to the transfer. After that, they signed a new contract with the Brazilian. To limit the number of offers, the contract included a clause setting a concrete transfer fee of €5m. At the time, the management believed that no one would pay such a sum. But Kady has demonstrated the best performance in Garabagh during that period, which Krasnodar found attractive. Initially, Russians offered Aghdam €2m, which it rejected. Finally, the buyers decided to use the clause mentioned in Kady's contract and pay €5m.


Our problems

Let's remember our recent past. Dino Ndlovu, Ibrahima Wadji and now Kady Borges leave Garabagh due to large transfer sums. Every year, the players of Garabagh, who demonstrate successful performance in European competitions, become attractive to foreign agents. But why do not they show interest in local players? So far, Mahir Emreli has been the only local player to leave the club. Incidentally, his career out of Garabagh has not been successful—he could not stay in Poland for long, soon finding himself at the subs bench of Dinamo (Croatia).

The fact that foreign clubs only show interest in foreign players demonstrates the deplorable situation in Azerbaijani football. It turns out that FC Garabagh owes its success to foreign players only, with no contribution from local players. On the other hand, Azerbaijani footballers have not demonstrated any intention to leave their home stadium for years. They earn well enough at home and therefore do not want to leave. As a result, they lag behind in terms of development. Currently, there are no players in Azerbaijani football who could qualify for European clubs. Apart from local footballers playing for the second division of Turkey and Iranian championships, we have no players to play in the top European championships. Plus, the lack of proper competition in the local championship hinders the development of a new generation of players.

One of the key reasons preventing Azerbaijani football players from becoming an expat player is unprofessionalism. Apart from possessing certain professional qualities, an expat player must be able to adapt to the mentality and the team, show his superiority over other players. For example, Azerbaijani goalkeeper Kamran Aghayev, who confidently played for the Portuguese team, used to say in almost every interview that he missed his family. Eventually, this had a negative impact on his image. The whole story ended with him changing the club and returning back home.

Young and promising players must have a strong character to withstand new environment and surroundings. They must be prepared for demanding game schedules, endless training, discipline, weather conditions and a number of other factors. Many players from national clubs do not meet all these professional criteria, hence unable to stay abroad.

Another important factor is the language. Local players who speak English or Russian make more sense to play in nearby countries, rather than say in Spanish- or French-speaking clubs. But even for that we must first establish ourselves, because clubs in say Russia and Turkey still take Azerbaijani players seriously. The domestic football system must be built in such a way that there are no problems with going abroad, while foreign clubs rely on our players.


On the importance of openings

Aghaselim Mirjavadov, a member of the coaching committee of the Association of Football Federations of Azerbaijan (AFFA), believes the transfer of Kady Borges was a success. "All top clubs are doing this transfer business. It is good that Azerbaijani clubs do the same. Paying for players from the club's budget, which is not replenished externally, and selling players yourself are two different things. Kady has demonstrated his talent in Garabagh. He has showed that he deserved a transfer to a stronger club and championship. Based on this success, Garabagh can now buy even a more promising player. Even two or three players. Such transfers are important to improve the infrastructure of the club, to further strengthen it,” Mirjavadov said.

He regret that Garabagh shows no particular interest in local players. "Buying a foreign player is a cinch. You transfer him, he plays, then you sell him. What about local players? Something we need to think about. They need development and transfer to other clubs even for more than 5 million as well. But there are very few such domestic players. Foreign clubs do not show much interest in them. One of the key reasons is that they cannot prove themselves. Also, European clubs are not interested in the Azerbaijani football market. After all, we have no players who have performed successfully in Europe in recent years. If Mahir Emreli’s transfer experience had been successful, perhaps there would be a window of opportunity for other players as well. But now they are only interested in foreign players," Mirjavadov added.