Soccer agents are becoming more and more crucial for soccer players of all levels of play. Sometimes a player at a lower level is just not getting enough playing time due to not fitting in to the system of play. An agent can find the right team and coach where that player will get their chance. A soccer agent has the ability to not only find you the right team to play for but help you negotiate the right salary you deserve. At the highest level, soccer agents have the ability to move a player to a bigger club at the right moment in the players career.
In March 2021, the Guardian revealed that Premier League clubs had spent a combined £272million on agents’ fees over the previous twelve months, with Chelsea the highest spenders on £35.2million, West Brom the lowest on £4.2million, and Gillingham the only club in the top four divisions of English football to not pay anything. And weirdly, this represented an increase on the year before (£263m) despite top flight clubs making huge losses in the pandemic, and with transfer spending decreasing by 10.6% between 2019 and 2020.
Figures like this suggest that the power that football agents hold in the game is continuing to grow, with their profits increasing even as those in other areas of the industry plummet. According to Forbes, Jonathan Barnett, Jorge Mendes and Mino Raiola all rank among the top five most lucrative sports agents in the world, making more money from their profession than any agent working in basketball or American football. And according to BILD, Raiola will demand wages of £825,000 a week for his most sought after client, Erling Haaland, as well as agent fees totalling almost £35million (34.3m) once the Norwegian striker’s release clause comes into effect next summer. But why are figures like Raiola able to exploit the transfer market like this?
Zlatan Ibrahimovic and his super agent Mino Raiola.
Mino Raiola started life as a waiter and is now the agent of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic
He’s had quite the career! pic.twitter.com/A7WSjfpvJA
— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) December 15, 2020
Something you don’t really hear an awful lot about in the United States are soccer agents, so let’s see what we can find out. Soccer agents are usually just for high profile and elite players, but it doesn’t hurt to get some feedback from a soccer agent or a business manager if you’re a young soccer player signing with a professional soccer team or hoping to play pro soccer after college.
Some say just focus on playing hard and improving and don’t worry about agents. Do you really need an agent if you’re a young soccer player? Most likely you do not. First off, we’re not talking about a substantial amount of money if you’re playing in the USL or MLS, and you don’t want someone reaching into the pie and taking a percentage when there’s not much pie. However, soccer is changing in the United States and it doesn’t hurt to reach out and get some feedback.
Certainly, if you’re a soccer player who is in the youth national team pool or has set his or her sites on Europe or an overseas soccer career, maybe an agent is right for you. And again, it doesn’t hurt to look into and ask around.
International Soccer Super Agent
Carmine “Mino” Raiola
- Zlatan Ibrahimovic
- Paul Pogba
- Romelu Lukaku
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan
- Marco Verratti
- Mario Balotelli
- Pavel Nedved
Agents and Who They Represent
Dan Segal and Richard Motzkin represent the players below:
- Jozy Altidore
- Landon Donovan
- Freddy Adu
- Tim Howard
- Bobby Convey
Joe Schoenbauer, Lyle Yorks, Mike Gartlan, and the rest of the group represent a number of European based players as well as MLS players.
- Carlos Bocanegra
- Brad Friedel
- Ryan Nelson
- Benny Feilhaber
- Brian McBride
- DaMarcus Beasley
- Sal Zizzo
- Roque Santa Cruz
Santio Sports – Entertainment
This group of agents represents a number of MLS players. The agents are: Paul McDonough, Niki Budalic, Remy Cherin, Patrick McCabe, Spencer Wadsworth, Damani Ralph.
- Tim Ream
- Teal Bunbury
- Brek Shea
Patrick McCabe of First Wave Sports represents a host of MLS soccer players:
- Allen, Ely
- Barnett, Dwight
- Barrett, Chad
- Borchers, Nat
- Brennan, Jim
- Burse, Ray
- Campbell, Scott
- Chabala, Mike
- Corrales, Ramiro
- Will Sherling (Oguchi Onyewu)
- Michael Bradley (Ron Waxman)
- Andy Najar – Chris Megaloudis of Long View Management
Youth National Team Agents
- Jeff Jacobs (Carlos Martinez)
- Oliver Wyss (Carlos Martinez)
Clint Dempsey was represented by Segal but changed agents before the transfer to Fulham. Of course, agents have an interesting role. Have you seen Ari Gold on Entourage or Tom Cruise as Jerry Maguire? They want to rack up as much money as they can for their clients, but they also want to help generate endorsement deals, and this relates to the public preception for the athlete. So it’s not just the contract they’re able to negotiate but what other endorsement deals that they can set you up with. For soccer camps this could be soccer gear or even camps and training sessions.
More on the Wasserman Group:
Richard Motzkin and Dan Segal are part of the Wasserman Media Group, the largest U.S.-based soccer agency. Motzkin, also represents Landon Donovan, Freddy Adu, Tim Howard and Bobby Convey among others. To get a better foothold overseas, L.A.-based WMG recently acquired SFX Europe, whose clients include Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard and Andriy Shevchenko.
But for players growing up in the United States, who are maybe not at the top elite level of soccer, looking to play in the USL or MLS, many former players can offer some good advice and help you with your contract. They can act as a sort of middle man or agent for you. Reach out to some former players or coaches you know.
What role do agents play? How much do they make? Who are the top soccer agents? What’s the purpose of an agent in soccer? Is it the connections they have? They can negotiate better than you can and also get endorsement deals?
Do you want someone like Ari–Hollywood style a la Entourage? No, well, that might be pretty fun, but you want an agent who has experience and usually an agent has a law degree. What experience do they have? Do they have other soccer clients? What endorsement deals have they negotiated and won for other clients? What ideas do they have for you now and long term?
What happens if you get hurt? That’s a good question to ask when choosing a college, too. Would I still be happy here if I had a major knee injury?
But, what really matters is how badly you want to achieve your dream. I say go for it. Maybe you’re not a starter in college because you don’t fit into the system. If that’s the case, go and find the right coach and system—play where you’re wanted and will be happy.
Take Ben Feilhaber. Surprisingly, Feilhaber made the UCLA team as a walk-on, rather than a player who was recruited with a scholarship offer.
But your soccer career will only last five to ten years – ten if you’re lucky, so while you’re playing soccer prepare for what you want to do afterwards. Yes, you want to have a back up plan. While you are playing professional soccer, take classes, look into business opportunities, invest your money, get into coaching, or set something up for when you retire for the game. Sure, you want your main focus to be soccer but it doesn’t hurt to investigate other opportunities while you’re playing.
Update: The James Grant Sports Management group also represents a number of players around the world, including a long list of MLS players.
See full list of soccer agents across the globe over at FIFA.com.