x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Not all football agents are out for themselves

Believe it or not, there are plenty of agents in football who are intelligent enough to realise that short-term financial gain is often the wrong path for their clients to follow.

Kia Joorabchian has worked up quite a charge sheet during a career in football still to enter its second decade. He has been accused of using Corinthians as a money laundering vehicle by a Brazilian judge as he presided over a season that ended with the relegation of Sao Paulo's best supported club.

He has imported third-party ownership to the Premier League, costing West Ham United tens of millions of pounds in fines and compensation, while forcing the organising body to rewrite its rule book. Ultimately, West Ham were also relegated.

And he has advised Carlos Tevez to attempt a forced exit from one of the most lucrative contracts in the history of the English game that has involved disobeying his manager's instructions, refusing to warm-up for a Champions League match, skipping training, and holidaying in South America without leave of absence.

His behaviour furthers complaints over the malign influence of football agents. Technically, of course, Joorabchian isn't one. He has never passed the exams required for a football association to formally license him for agency work, and instead employs a common tactic to bypass their regulations - working in tandem with licensed agents and lawyers.

Joorabchian and Tevez are friends and his stewardship of the striker's career has delivered huge financial reward.

Tendering Tevez to the highest bidder at the end of a title-laden loan spell at Manchester United delivered a contract with Manchester City that could have been even more rewarding if loyalty bonuses had not been forfeited by pushing for a transfer.

Yet, maximising a client's salary (and their personal commissions) is not necessarily the guiding principle for a football agent. The good ones - and they are more numerous than popular perception would imply - respect the needs of a footballer's employers, look after their players' personal lives, and are intelligent enough to realise that short-term financial gain is often the wrong path to follow.

It is no coincidence Jorge Mendes's client list includes Jose Mourinho, one of best managers in the game, and Cristiano Ronaldo, its most complete forward. One story captures how he works.

In 2009, Barcelona offered Nani a way out of a trying two-year introduction to English football. Sparingly used at United, the move was tempting.

Mendes persuaded Nani that if he left Old Trafford then he would be seen as a failure. Sir Alex Ferguson believed in him. Better to give United another season, follow the manager's guidance and succeed there first. By the following March, Nani had established himself at United, receiving a new contract. The next season he was United's footballer of the year.

Player, club and fans all benefited. Because Nani had the right adviser.