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Football agents – The invisible men.

Anyone who is an avid player of the PC game ‘Football Manager’ will notice each season the game progresses as the makers attempt to make it more realistic. One of the things they have seen fit to add to make the game more believable is the introduction of agents when negotiating with a possible transfer target.

Football agents are the men behind the scenes who make things happen. They are the most important people in deals, yet we know very little about them.


A mobile phone, the gift of the gab and a book full of contacts is what you need to be a football agent. Many agents have become millionaires simply by playing the middle man in multi million pound deals. If you listen carefully on a quiet day, you might be able to hear a football agent gleefully rubbing his hands together in anticipation of new contract talks for one of his clients.


As football has transcended into a business, the role of the agent has become more and more important. A manager can give a royal roasting to one of his players for not defending a corner but he can not talk about money with him. No, for that he must speak only to the players agent.


Agents claim that they have only their clients best interests at heart. If that is true then why don’t agents work for free? You know, out of the goodness of their hearts…


World famous super agent Pini Zahavi, has made untold millions from the game by playing the role of the ‘fix it’ man. Zahavi has played pivotal roles in some major transfers such as Rio Ferdinand’s £30 million pound move from Leeds to Manchester United.


Zahavi has also been involved in some of the more controversial moments of football in recent years. He was the man responsible for setting up the famous ‘secret’ meeting between Jose Mourinho, Peter Kenyon and Ashley Cole, who was then still contracted to rivals Arsenal. He also was the facilitator of the meeting between then England manager Sven Goren Eriksson and new Chelsea owner Roman Abramovic.


Another agent who has profited from football becoming a global phenomenon and major business is Jorge Mendes, who was instrumental in taking ‘The Special One’, Jose Mourinho from Porto to Chelsea in 2004. Mendes also made a fortune from the moves of Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira and Tiago to Chelsea. Mendes was again at the head of affairs when he made Mourinho the highest paid football coach in the world when he joined Inter Milan. Mendes is reported to have made a vast amount from Cristiano Ronaldo’s record breaking move from Manchester United to Real Madrid.


In some instances the agent gets paid twice on one deal, once by the player, then again by one of the clubs involved. Do the clubs and players not own mobile phones?


The role of the agent in football deals is shrouded in mystery. He is the man who is never spoken about. The man who footballers trust in getting the best deals for them. The man who clubs hate seeing knocking on their doors when one of their players contracts reaches the last two years of it’s existence.


Why there is so much secrecy about the role of the agent is something I will never understand. Is it because he simply does nothing, apart from being a rather expensive messenger? I completely understand the need of a footballer for an agent with commercial deals. But surely a player is quite capable of opening his mouth and asking for what he wants in order to play for the club? There is a rather famous story that claimed when one agent called up a top flight manager and told him he is ringing to represent his client, the manager barked “he can represent himself” and promptly hung up. If that happened today, the agent would no doubt have the player handing in a transfer request the next day.


For clubs football agents are still a problem rather than a solution. For a player, the agent is a solution that creates a problem.


The sad thing is that these agents are here to stay. And there is nothing that no one can do about it.


Kam Gill