As Shakespeare once wrote “some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them”. In the footballing world that equates to some players are born wealthy, some achieve wealth and some have wealth thrust upon them whilst others with no discernible talent ride on the back of those that do to become wealthy themselves.
That’s right - agents. They’re rife in the modern game with £67m paid to agents from Premier League transfers alone for the 2011/12 season, and they are the key to many transfer deals occurring, never mind being completed. But they have a nasty habit for misadvising their clients in pursuit of maximum reimbursement for their services.
It must be said that most perform their role dutifully with the players best interests at heart, acting as the middle man between player and club, raking in money from sponsorships and endorsements. There are some, however, who are masters of this sometimes dark art who can do the almost unthinkable with the minimal of resources. The agents of the following players fall under the latter category . . .
Ravel Morrison is at best a loose cannon. A prodigious talent whose name was whispered on the Old Trafford terraces by those in the know form the age of 14. He soon became better known for his regular appearances in court rather than the Theatre of Dreams and Manchester United’s patience was pushed to the limit. Despite this they stood by the man who, if he hadn’t shown the talent and potential he had, would more than likely have been on the wrong end of a custodial sentence. Yet when he was offered a new contract by United in 2011 with his current deal due to expire the following summer, his agent balked at the offer of £12k a week, instead demanding £30k a week, before eventually securing a deal worth a basic £10-15k but rising to a possible £65k a week. All this for a player with less than 90 minutes worth of experience of professional football.
Daniel Sturridge is a man not averse to controversy. Starting at Aston Villa, moving to Coventry and eventually choosing Manchester City from a whole host of interested clubs at the age of 13 and going on to break pretty much every club record available at youth level. He got himself on the fringes of the first-team only to jump ship to Chelsea, apparently due to not getting enough football, swapping competition from Darius Vassell, Felipe Caicedo and Benjani for Salmon Kalou, Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba. After biding his time, including a loan spell at Bolton, and getting into the team, Sturridge became publicly unhappy about not getting his chance to play through the middle in his preferred role as a striker. This forced him to move to Liverpool this month for £12m after being frozen out by Roberto Di Matteo and Rafael Benitez. A lot of activity for a 23-year-old, who in a short career has represented three of England’s biggest clubs, despite achieving very little to write home about, commanding wages of £60k a week at Chelsea and £80k from Liverpool.
Manchester United secured the services of Paul Pogba from Le Havre in 2009 amidst threats of being reported to FIFA for tapping up that never materialised. The ‘new Patrick Viera’ became involved in the first-team set up, albeit used sparingly in matches and Sir Alex Ferguson was glowing in his praise of his talent. But 2011 saw contract negotiations stall as Pogba’s agent infuriated Ferguson with constant stories in the press about how he was unhappy with his first-team opportunities and the wages on offer. At the same time, Pogba was playing well and talking of his enjoyment of his time at the club in the press. United’s offer was not enough for Pogba and his representatives who opted for Juventus’s offer of £20k a week, where to be fair he has made 18 appearances and scored four goals including a screamer in a brace against Udinese at the weekend.
After finding himself on the scrap heap at Chelsea and not being offered a new contract by the club, Bosingwa, 30, found himself a free agent in the summer of 2012, but not for long. Leaving behind the days of £70k-a-week he earned whilst playing for European Champions Chelsea, he was left to settle for a measly £65k-a-week at Premier League survivors QPR. Harry Redknapp has expressed his infamy at the decision to offer such a contract, claiming that the top earners at Tottenham fail to earn as much as the Chelsea cast-off. Bosingwa refused to be placed on the bench against Fulham and has not played since early December, meaning he’s now earning his money for nothing. Genius.
It takes a good agent to broker a strong deal for his client, especially one where an already substantial wage is significantly increased, when his player is in top form. Robbie Keane famously lost value after an exceptional 2002 World Cup with Ireland, joining Leeds United for £7m, but when your player is out of sorts and has been written off in some quarters, surely such a feat is impossible? Not if your Fernando Torres who despite demonstrating the worst possible form got a £50m move to Chelsea from Liverpool in January 2011, almost doubling his wages from £110k to £200k a week in the process.
These cases are far from unique and will no doubt be repeated and bettered as time goes on. It's worth pointing out that the PFA will provide an impartial, trusted agent free of charge for any member during contract negotiations or the like.
But, if you’re lucky enough to get one of these top money spinners on your side then good luck to you, after all I’m only jealous.
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