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Football agents dymystified

Of course, we run our own FA Intermediary business, Ballon, but always nice to read some musings from a new, young and up and coming sports enthusiast, so here goes….

“There is a lot of controversy about football agents in today modern game, and in this article I will be writing about what an agent is, what their job is with the players and their impact in todays game. A sports agent is a person who looks after a player’s contract’s, negotiations, welfare and much much more. The agents of today’s game are some player’s best friends as they spend the majority of their lives in communication with them about how a player’s training is, how their finances are, how they are enjoying their time at the clubs they play for. Agents micro-manage player’s lives, even when they retire. When player’s retire, agencies will have contingency plans on how to keep their players high profile and still in the game. For example, ex-Real Madrid and AC Milan midfielder, Kaka, still has agents to look after his social media pages, his events that he does, his representation for companies such as Pepsi and Adidas. Agents control a player’s life for their entirety of their life and make a huge living out of it, with super agents having net-worths of hundreds of millions.

Agents pick up young players from any age group if they believe that they can make them a lot of money. Super-agents however, do not even care for their clients welfare and have a whole team of lawyers and solicitors and finance teams that can take care for them, as long as they get money in their back pocket. Super-agent, Mino Raiola, supposedly earnt a whopping 22 million pounds in Paul Pogba’s deal from Juventus to Manchester United. Super-agents may not even touch some of their more low profile players, and only negotiate for the big superstars. Raiola had huge superstars under his belt, including Ibrahimovic, Haaland, De Ligt, Donurumma and Veratti and has a net-worth of around 68 million in 2020. Sadly, the agent passed away in 2022 after a long standing battle. Agents do come under criticism, with Paul Scholes publicly criticising Raiola for the deal in which Pogba moved to Manchester United with Raiola then responding that Scholes “wouldn’t know a leader even if Winston Churchill was in front of him.” Pep Guardiola also did have a long-standing feud with the agent after Barcelona signed Ibrahimovic from Inter Milan and scored 11 goals in 13 games for the club. Guardiola then dropped the Swede and loaned him out to AC Milan the following summer, in which Raiola said “If Guardiola doesn’t play Ibra after paying €75m for him, it’s best if you send him to a psychiatric hospital.” Raiola treated his clients like they were his sons and claimed to have tried to attack Guardiola at Wembley in 2011 for not involving Ibrahimovic in his Champions League win. Raiola even went on to say in 2015 that Guardiola was a “great manager” but a “coward” and he is “an absolute zero” as a person. Guardiola came out in 2018 saying that Raiola offered him Pogba and Mkhitaryan. This may sum up the type of agent that Raiola was in his primal years as he did not have the reputation of a nice guy, and money may have been the only thing in his head.

On the opposite side, there are many positives of agents, they offer young players trials from the contacts that they have at clubs. They media train young players and mentor them. They give player’s career advice. Sometimes they will even go a step further and analyse player’s games and progress and tell players where they’re able to develop their game. This is what an agent who cares for a player should do, and if they are wanting to micro-manage the lives of some of these players, they need to give them many opportunities and not take advantage over the youths that want to make it their dream to play football as a profession. If you want to get players the best deals and players the best lifestyle, you need to great a good bond with the player and also with the clubs you work with so you can create contacts within the clubs as if you have players in the future who may want to have trials. This can boost your network and can create many opportunities for these youth players. If you are greedy then the clubs will not want to give your youth players any more opportunities as they do not like dealing with you. This will make it harder for both you, to sign your players to clubs, and for your youth player’s mental health as their opportunities will be limited if they work for you. It’s the issue with creating these false hopes for the players will ruin players careers and they will not make their full potential.

Agents of today need to be much more cautious on their comments and relationships with club and players and people in todays game as it can lead to a very toxic setting if it gets out of hand with agents not being able to represent their players in an orderly fashion. If a player is not happy at a club and not able to get out and you have no contacts elsewhere due to bad relationships, then your players will be stuck in a very bad position. Agents need to look at the player’s happiness and also the player’s health and need to make sure they’re staying up to shape and agents need to keep their contacts and network open.”

This article researched and written by Alistair Holmes, Intern at ACROBAT | FCSM

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