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The Rough, Tough, Bitter and Sweet Life of a Soccer Agent: The Standard Sport

By on November 22, 2021 0
Football agent Jorge Mendes smiles for the camera as he sat next to a youngster and Cristiano Ronaldo at a past event [Reuters]

“I was (in contact) with Juventus, Inter Milan, AC Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, ​​Valencia… everyone wanted Cristiano. I called Cristiano and told him what’s important for you it’s your career, not the money at the moment Thank God Sir Alex Ferguson said to me: ‘Leave him with me. At least he’ll play 50 percent of the games, I promise you “… and that was the key …”

These are the words of Jorge Mendes, one of the world’s most popular football agents, as he gleefully revealed what happened moments before he negotiated one of football’s best deals – the transfer of Cristiano Ronaldo, 18, from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United. in 2003.

Mendes was speaking in the 2015 film Ronaldo, giving the world for the first time a glimpse of his personal relationship with the player, even as he mercilessly marketed his name to Europe’s biggest clubs.

It might be fooled to think that Mendes only spoke to Ronaldo to get him to sign the Man United contract, but behind it lies a difficult, delicate and frustrating negotiating period, all while trying to find the best deal for him. player and himself.

Football agents or “middlemen” are people who obtain and negotiate job offers for their clients, for a fee. Some choose to work for large companies while others work independently. Behind every good footballer you know, an agent pulls the strings and makes things happen.

The bigger the player and the bigger the market, a very lucrative middleman football business can be. However, one must have a distinct skill set if they are to get the best deals for their customers.

Standard Sports met George Bwana, a Kenyan football intermediary, who spoke about the life of an agent, especially, during a transfer window.

Peter Odhiambo (Pitts) and George Bwana Pitts after the funeral at Nairobi Baptist Church. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Bwana has been involved in the transfer of some of Kenya’s biggest names in football including David Owino and Jesse Were from Gor Mahia and Tusker FC to Zesco in Zambia, Teddy Akumu from Gor Mahia to Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa and Richard Odada at Graficar Beograd. in Serbia.

Roles of an agent

Agents are responsible for contract negotiations, financial planning, welfare advice, public relations, entering into sponsorship agreements as well as handling disciplinary issues on behalf of the player.

“I watch a lot of football from different regions. During any transfer window, I check which transfers are open and examine the main weak points of different teams within a market. I also check which clubs are likely to sign players, ”Bwana said.

“I have a database on club management and a relationship with different federations, I can contact them at any time. I field a few players that I introduce to the clubs … and the conversation starts from there.

Responsible for spotting grassroots talent, Bwana said that in addition to watching football on TV, you need to have a passion for the game as it sometimes involves a lot of travel just to identify marketable talent for clubs. of football.

The African market is not as sophisticated as the European market, Bwana said, explaining why it is important for players to have agents who negotiate with football clubs on their behalf. He insists that players are not asked to negotiate transfers themselves and need a middleman to make sure they get the best deal.

Harambee Stars forwards Jesse Were (left) and Michael Olunga at Wilson Airport on November 19, 2015, as they arrive from Cape Verde for their 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying second leg. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

“Clubs in Africa easily identify a player and say they want to sign him for a fee and a monthly salary. Our job is to ensure professionalism in some of these processes. We try to negotiate on behalf of the players as well as between the clubs. If a Kenyan player wishes to join the South African league, we ensure that the Kenyan club is compensated in a comprehensive manner, depending on the nature of the player sought by the other club, ”he said, adding that players should only focus on their performance on the pitch. ground.

“Sometimes it is very difficult for a player to say no after two clubs have negotiated a deal, which is why we are here to negotiate their personal terms. In Europe, some offers are ‘subject to personal terms’ where the player can be paid for different accomplishments eg goals and appearances. We discourage players from negotiating deals for themselves. Their job is to play, ours is to make sure they are comfortable and can concentrate on the game, with all the facilities they need, ”said Bwana.

Position, age and quality of performance on the pitch best determine a player’s value or price. Agents, like Bwana, often tend to prefer players who have excelled to the point of receiving summons from their national teams. Obtaining a CAP (national team appearance) automatically increases a player’s value.

“The younger the player, the more expensive he will be because of the longer time he will be available to play. Forwards tend to be more expensive than defenders because they score goals. Guardians are not that expensive. A club can have four goalkeepers, but only one or two get the most appearances, ”Bwana explained.

“They are also very little injured. If a player is very good then he / she should appear for his national team. Clubs will ask you if a player you market played for the national team, otherwise the player’s value drops.

Challenges

Even though agents work hard to get the best deals for their clients, some face the daunting prospect of huge disagreement over and over. It is for this reason that an agent must have good interpersonal skills and develop a good relationship with the player. Some players are not always comfortable with the actions of their agents, creating a loophole when they stumble upon a deal they don’t prefer.

NAPSA Stars FC defender David Owino celebrates a victory over Gor Mahia FC in their CAF Confederation Cup play-off first leg at Nyayo National Stadium in Nairobi on February 14, 2021. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Bwana said that in some cases, some agents are not paid well or paid at all by their clients, who sometimes remain dissatisfied with their work or financial demands.

“Some players don’t want to play for certain clubs, or just move from one club to another. However, an agent will come to the player with a deal they won’t prefer. Sometimes it’s the agent’s fees. Some players do not want to pay their agents what is agreed in the contract. Some agents are also demanding too much, far more than is acceptable to Fifa. There is a cap on the amount an agent is expected to receive from player winnings, ”Bwana said.

He said most clubs in Africa lack funds and stable sponsorships to run their affairs, leaving agents with little to no money once the deal is done. He also said players do not fully understand the roles an agent plays, saying there is a belief that most agents come to “win (reap) where they haven’t sown”. Another obstacle to the recognition of agents in the country by foreign federations is the emergence of unlicensed “self-proclaimed” agents.

Due to trust issues, some players prefer to have their parents or relatives as agents, simply because they don’t want to spend money on a stranger. Top players around the world have embraced the idea, including the South American duo of Lionel Messi and Neymar, both of whom have their fathers as agents.

“These family members are ‘qualified’ by being required to take exams provided by individual federations and whoever passes pays a certain fee to continue to renew their license. In the Kenyan federation you have to pay 100,000 shillings a year to be a licensed agent, ”Bwana said, noting that an unlicensed individual trying to market a player to a federation that insists on dealing only with licensed intermediaries will come across as a charlatan.

Some football agents, especially those recruiting from amateur leagues, are forced to go the extra mile to register the players they wish to market, by creating video compilations to show to different clubs.

It is easy if the player is playing in a top league which is broadcast on a popular channel. However, if the player is from an amateur league, an agent must use their equipment to register the player.

BEST FOOTBALL AGENTS IN THE WORLD AND MANAGED CUSTOMERS

· Jorge Mendes – Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, David De Gea, José Mourinho, Angel Di Maria, James Rodriguez and Renato Sanches.

· Mino raiola – Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Blaise Matuidi and Mario Balotelli

· Pini Zahavi – Robert Lewandowski, Rio Ferdinand, Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez.

· Giuliano Bertolucci – David Luiz, Oscar, Paulinho, Marquinhos and Willian.

· Volker Struth – Toni Kroos, Marco Reus, Mario Götze, Dayot Upamecano and Niklas Süle.

· Jonathan Barnett – Gareth Bale, Jordan Pickford, Luke Shaw, Saul Niguez and Wojciech Szczesny.

· Father Guardiola – Luis Suarez, Andres Iniesta, Thiago Alcantara and Hector Bellerin.

· José Otin – Fernando Torres, Jesus Navas, Jesus Navas, Pedro, Javi Martinez.

· Paul Stretford – Andy Cole, Wayne Rooney, Harry Maguire.

· Global promotions – Olivier Giroud, N’golo Kanté Philippe Coutinho, Douglas, Hugo Lloris and Dimitri Payet.


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