The importance of player agents
Agents are portrayed very negatively in the world of football, almost like con men, which is unfair for the level of service they provide to their clients. Chairmen and managers view them as stubborn negotiators whose intention is to inflate deals for their personal gain. Whereas fans believe they are manipulative individuals who can convince players to move clubs against their best interest. These opinions are partly true, agents do receive a higher amount of commission if they can increase a player transfer value. They will certainly benefit if their client regularly moved clubs. But this cannot be further from the truth, the truth is some players come from deprived countries, some leave school at the age of 16 leaving them with limited life skills. Do these players not have the right to protect themselves?
By not having an agent, the player is running the risk of undervaluing himself and not getting what they are entitled to. In an industry where millions of pounds are spent on players and 6 figure contracts are signed off, agents provide a safety blanket to players. With a career lasting 12-15 years agents can advise and plan a career path, manage a player’s finance and take up the role of mediators between their clients and the respective club during contract negotiations. But where they add greater value now is off the pitch. Football players have now become brands of their own, such as CR7, Neymar Jr and Paul Pogba. As a result, agents have added responsibility to keep a positive image of their clients to appeal to commercial brands.
Ask yourself, how many clubs would have given Mario Balotelli a chance without super agent Mina Raiola by his side. Would Cristiano Ronaldo be one of the biggest brands without Jorge Mendes. What about Fernando Felicevich, who successfully transferred young Chile players into top European clubs such as Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal.
Some would disagree with the value an agent can provide. In 2016 NFL player Russel Okung stated that athletes are equipped to negotiate for themselves and that athletes know their worth better than any agent. He goes on to say that some agents have over 50 clients and may not be as focused on every individual's career as they should. Many would agree with those concerns, but that option sadly is not available for all players. What about players with limited life skills or knowledge in this field. It also still doesn’t take away the fact that most agents have industry intensive knowledge and have both sport specific and contract negotiations experience.
Player agents, for the majority, will epitomize what’s wrong with the game. But with players earning up to £500,000 a week and vast commercial opportunities around the world. Agents are key players both on and off the field and will be for many years to come.