Persuasion is a brutal skill. And, unsurprisingly, those with plenty of it get the best jobs in football. Jobs that require the least work, and the most common sense. Football agents have long been held in the view that they are destroying the culture of the sport, which must be quite the contrary to what clubs think of them. In the modern day, there is no direct-to-player sort of approach from a club. Instead, it’s the club’s agents that talk to the player’s agent and thus put middlemen to good use. This saves both the club’s and player’s face in public, as they can both strongly deny any contacts between the two parties under legal terms.
The guys who do this job the best are multi-millionaires, to the level that one particular agent, Jorge Mendes, was at one point in contention to buy Milan. He was also notably gifted a Greek island by Cristiano Ronaldo on his wedding. No big deal.
Football could use some less complications. The game that’s the least complicated from all aspects does not need to further massacrate its reputation–after all that’s happened at FIFA–by involving suspicious and unnecessary recipients of an abundance amount of money into the transfer system. The job’s not that hard to get qualified for, either, just read this guide made by FIFA on the basics of the work, and the ‘codes’ you are supposed to abide by.
All of this means that the relationship between agents and fans is anything but mutual. It’s more parasitic, in all likelihood.
Fans think agents are sucking money out of their club. That is the truth, but agents also help get transfer deals, which might not get done otherwise, done. And they do it in an efficient manner.
Transfer deals are too sensitive of a proposition for a club’s official delegates to ponder about. This can harm the club’s image in front of other clubs, and potentially turn fans against them. Take the Napoli-Koulibaly case as an example. Anyone even remotely knowledgeable will tell you that it’s the work of a bad agent.
Players aren’t supposed to speak out against their club in public. It has to happen behind closed curtains. And that’s the area the agents dominate.
Football players, to us mere mortals, are an object of ecstasy; they are somewhat super-natural human beings who represent our clubs day in and day out. Our views about them is distracted by the constant fascination that they deliver to us on the pitch, and in rare cases, off the pitch.
As such, the PR of a player is very, very important. It gets them favors for life post-football. Quid pro quo at its very best. There’s probably nothing worse than being a famous footballer and then being remembered for your threat against staying at your club.
Likewise, the PR of a club is very important as well. Some might even say that it’s more important than that of a player. Transfers don’t get done if players don’t want to represent your club. That’s a fact.
Players are less likely to join you if they think you have an overly aggressive approach in the transfer market. So, in other words, the less ‘failed’ transfer deals you have, the more likely it is that you will have another ‘failed’ transfer. If clubs directly dealt with transfers, then it would be impossible to deny any participation for both parties to the media.
This would, in turn, spread substantial rumours, and next thing you know, there’s a giant crowd in front of Kalidou Koulibaly’s house in Naples, planning his assault. Thus, safety is also another concern when it comes to utilizing agents.
And for those who think agents are unnecessary in the modern game where information can travel faster than the speed of light, they might want to consider that most football agents are not filthy rich. They are normal people trying to make a living by doing the best job that they can for their client.
It’s extremely risky, too. Footballers are probably the most untrustworthy people to work with when they aren’t on the football pitch. You never know where they’re going to go, what they’re going to do, and what they’re going to buy. Unlimited wealth might not be a good thing after all.
Agents are somewhat responsible for controlling those activities. They have to not only interact with their clients on a strictly professional basis, but also get to know them on a personal level, so that the client can trust them when it comes to making important decisions.
The top tier agents know their gameplan. They aren’t just lucky folks who just chose to represent their next door neighbor’s son and made millions. Chances are, these agents are even better at scouting than professional scouts. Mendes, Raiola, and Barnett are just some of the big names who’ve worked tirelessly to get to where they are today.
You may think of them as unnecessary, but truth is, they keep the game flowing smoothly.