Since the Premier League was first launched in 1992, English professional football has seen a drastic change and so has the role of agents. What is now a multi-billion pound industry, we have seen it become more complex over the years with the role of image rights, release clauses, social media and commercial endorsements. The potential rewards on offer to young talents and their representatives have become ever more alluring, which has been seen in recent times by the mega transfers of Neymar and Mbappe to PSG. And for these reasons, the role of the football agent has grown.
According to fans and club officials, there is no one more divisive in football than an agent. Managers and chairmen see them as inflexible negotiators who are intent on grinding out extortionate deals for their clients while fans see them as manipulative brokers, who are loyal only to themselves and capable of convincing players to leave their clubs against their best interest.
However, in reality this can be rather different. The role of a modern agent is to act with more of a parental concern for young footballers, many of whom who have had to endure difficult backgrounds growing up or quit the education system early to pursue a football career, leaving them with few life skills which are required to deal with the enormous amount of money thrown at them at an early age. Football Careers rarely last more than 15 years and a good agent will help a player plan a successful career path, help manage their finances while trying to steer them away from the usual distractions such as gambling and drugs while trying to cultivate an image that’s appealing to the biggest commercial brands.
Chris Nathaniel, Football Agent who has represented many well know footballers such as Rio Ferdinand, Samuel Eto’o and Robinho has stressed how vital it is for agents to guide young footballers through their career. Nathaniel’s agency NWA is well known for managing players lives both on and off the field, by providing them business ideas for life after football. As Nathaniel said “We look for clubs for players and take them through entrepreneurial lessons to live a worthy life after football. This is because we believe there is life after football and players will need to manage their lives well and make the best out of their active days in the game.” With young footballers already earning £20,000 in their first pro contracts, agents have become so important that many are even directly employed by clubs.
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