Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Most Influential Soccer Agents in the World

Before the 1990s, most soccer players did not use agents. In some cases, they used their fathers as agents. Because of most parents' naivete about the football business, these young footballers were often given less-than-stellar contracts by football clubs, which yielded lower salaries than they thought they deserved. 

The influx of money into the game since the formation of the 'Premiership' in England in 1992 (now known as the Premier League) created a merchant class in soccer – agents. Modern agents represent both players and managers, and they’re largely responsible for brokering transfers between clubs, managing contract negotiations, and handling all the paperwork involved as the intermediary between players and club management. 
Some agents have also got obscenely rich thanks to all the money floating around the game these days.

Generally speaking, agents get a small percentage cut of their players’ contracts. The precise amount will vary wildly from agent to agent, but that isn’t their only source of revenue. When agents are involved in brokering transfers between clubs, they tend to get a pretty significant amount of cash as well. 

Sure, we may be only talking about 3-5%, but 3-5% of £50 million is still £1.5 – £2.5 million – all for a few weeks of work. Few agents make that kind of money, but the men on this list all have superstar clients who command those kinds of prices, and all that wealth has trickled down to make these agents wealthy and powerful beyond their wildest dreams.

Barry Silkman: 

Although not strictly a player agent, Barry Silkman has made his name and his fortune as a master broker for transfers between top clubs. After a 16-year playing career spanning 14 clubs, in which he was mildly successful, Silkman attempted to turn management into his new day job. When that fell through he found his calling in acting as an agent in the 1990s, and he hasn’t stopped yet. With clients such as David Villa, Demba Ba and Ravel Morrison, Silkman’s ever-growing portfolio of star players means the 61-year-old will be around for the foreseeable future.

Jerome Anderson:

England’s most famous agent has spent a career representing some of the biggest names to ever play in the English Premier League. A banker by trade, Anderson made the transition into player representation just before agents became the powerful merchant-class they are today in the game. Initially he made his name thanks to the talent he brought to Arsenal at the turn of the 21st century; Thierry Henry, Dennis Bergkamp, Tony Adams, Ian Wright, all were brought to Arsenal thanks to Anderson’s help. These days he’s more closely associated with Manchester City, but represents a wide array of players including John Obi Mikel, the Belguim Axel Witsel and Kieran Gibbs.

Pini Zahavi:

Zahavi hit the headlines through his dealings at Chelsea following the takeover by Roman Abramovich in 2003. Zahavi was actively involved both in the purchase of the club and of negotiationg contracts for all the star players that it would sign in the initial 2-year period after the purchase, with several transfers being investigated for alleged corruption.
The Israeli was also involved in several dodgy takeovers at Portsmouth, but his bread and butter is transfers.
He currently represents players such as Carlos Tevez and Rio Ferdinand.

Mino Raiola:

The mastermind behind journeyman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Raiola has become an increasing presence in a number of big transfer deals, from all across Europe. Borussia Dortmund's Henrikh Mkhitaryan is his latest client, and he stands to make plenty of money this summer with Liverpool and Inter Milan both keen.
Raiola is ruthless, and also represents the likes of Paul Pogba, Mario Balotelli and Tottenham and France star Etienne Capoue, while Paris Saint-Germain's Edinson Cavani counts him as an adviser.

Jonathan Barnett:

Known for helping launch Lennox Lewis’ career in boxing, Barnett hit the headlines in 2006 when he was charged over tapping up offences, relating to Ashley Cole’s transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea. These days he keeps his head down, only boasting a few – albeit huge – clients.
These include Gareth Bale, Joe Hart, Wojciech Szczesny, Rafael, Fabio and Darren Bent.

Cezary Kucharski:

Most agents tend to stick to their native countries to draw most of their talent from, which makes perfect sense. Naturally their network of contacts is larger and deeper in their home countries. 
Cezary Kucharski is the biggest agent in his native Poland, and he’s made his name attracting some of the top Polish talent to his brand in recent years. He has world-class Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski under contract, as well as Dortmund winger Jakub Blaszcykowski. 
Kucharski was a player himself as recently as 2007, but now the 42-year-old prefers to sit back and let others handle the on-field work while he takes care of the paperwork in the back – getting considerably richer in the process.

Pere Guardiola:

Brother of Bayern Munich coach Pepe, Pere Guardiola is an established agent in his own right, representing talent such as Barcelona's Luis Suarez, Arsenal's Hector Bellerin and Jon Toral, and Deportivo de La Coruña winger Isaac Cuenca. 

Paul Stretford:

Stretford is one of the boldest agents around, having dared to take on a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney - one of the most marketable players in the world and manage his career ever since. He was the driving influence behind the England striker’s two transfer requests at Manchester United, and it speaks volumes for the agent that he even dared to take on Sir Alex Ferguson.
Stretford will work closely with Rooney between now and the Summer, as he likely plots a move away from Old Trafford. It will be the second big move of his career, and nothing looks like standing in the way this time, with Stretford likely to use his master contact Jorge Mendes to negotiate a transfer abroad.
Stretford also represents superstar coaches Harry Redknapp and Roberto Mancini.

Jorge Mendes: 

Few are better connected in world football than Mendes, the king of football agents - and he’s never even set foot on a pitch as a player or as a manager!

Having secured a monopoly on Portuguese football years ago, the names of his clients are a who's who in the footballing world: Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez, José Mourinho, Ramadel Falcao and Angel Di Maria to name but a few! Mendes is the most sought after agent in the world for both players and clubs, and with good reason; he has control of some of the game’s elite-tier talent, including his crown jewel Cristiano Ronaldo.

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