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The transfer market in English football is finally showing signs of recovery after “two windows of fear and uncertainty.”
Roc Nation’s head of football Alan Redmond believes the Premier League will see a return to big moves this summer as clubs look to rebuild after the financial impact of the global pandemic.
But, interestingly, Redmond believes the rest of Europe may still remain cautious because there is not the same confidence in Spain, Italy and Germany.
In a wide-ranging interview, Redmond and Roc Nation’s vice-president Michele Rinchiuso also addressed the changing face of football agents, the dangers of the new FIFA regulations and why players can become rock stars for the next generation of fans.
Roc Nation is owned by US music superstar Jay-Z and has a client list which includes Kevin De Bruyne, Chris Richards and Romelu Lukaku and are making real inroads into the football market.
Harry Kane and Jadon Sancho are likely to command big transfer fees this summer
Redmond said: “After two windows of fear and uncertainty, this will be the first real recovery window. I think some clubs will spend a surprisingly high amount of money and within the UK, there are signs that we will get back towards some normality.
“In England, the Premier League is very well insulated by the TV and broadcast money. We’ve got over the mountain and we can see normality returning. In Europe, they’ve got to the top of the mountain but are not sure when they will be over the other side.
“I’ve spoken with some very big clubs in Spain and Germany, and they are only looking at loans and players at the end of their contracts. But in England, the confidence is returning with players, agents and clubs.”
Jadon Sancho looks set for a move to Manchester United, Harry Kane is wanted by Manchester City, Chelsea and Manchester United while the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are looking to spend this summer.
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Finally, after 15 months of lockdown, behind-closed-doors games and huge commercial losses, there seems to be hope and a sense from clubs they are ready to go again.
Redmond said: “I think there’s a high chance of a domino effect. I think we reached March and players were still asking: ‘When is this going to end?’
“One of the things about this window, if you’re a club about to lose a player for £80m or £90m then in the past few months they might have just bided their time and see what develops. But now I do see clubs going out to replace them.
“In normal times, you have a player with his contract running down and you offer £70,000-a-week or whatever it might be. But there’s been a reluctance because clubs haven’t known what will happen next. Now that appears to be changing.”
Harry Kane is on Chelsea, Man Utd and Man City's radars
There is widespread opposition to new FIFA regulations. Football’s governing body wants to reintroduce agent exams to force out rogue intermediaries and also target “dual representation” where an agent can look after both a player and club in a single transfer.
Redmond is a member of the Association of Football Agents and the frustration among many is that, despite agents being such big players in the industry, they are not classed as stakeholders or given a say.
“Dual representation has negative connotations but only when it’s exploited. We are undeniably stakeholders who should have a seat at the table. They regulate us but we’re not allowed to speak back and offer an opinion,” said Redmond.
“And if we do offer an opinion, there’s no guarantee anyone will listen. There’s this perception that agents are taking money out of their club but the reality is that in most cases it’s five per cent of a player’s gross salary and it’s not a shady side deal. It’s very straightforward and in the contract.
“To back that up, when you talk about dual representation and conflict of interest. They have made the normalisation of a percentage of a transfer fee for an agent of up to ten per cent.
Jay Z founded and owns Roc Nation – who represent stars like Kevin De Bruyne
“Now, the selling clubs might say: ‘we’re not giving it to you.’ But the point is, it’s there to be negotiated. You’d like to think that agents will act in an honest way. But it can lead to a choice of an agent getting five per cent on a new contract or ten per cent of a transfer fee, say £25m.
“The fear I have is what FIFA have done is turn agents into estate agents for players. It seems like they have a minor misgiving on what could be exploited and yet have ended up opening a door into a much worse room.”
Top agent Sky Andrew is one of several to have spoken out on the changing face of agents going from old school transfers and contracts to wide representation, becoming more of a manager looking after commercial tie-ups, social media and marketing.
Clearly, this was the appeal for Roc Nation who looks after players both on a commercial and football representation level and the agency’s tie-up with music, showbiz and US sports gives a unique insight with sports stars already on a completely different level in the States.
Roc Nation also wants a select client list, young and emerging players together with stars with the idea they get as much attention as the superstars.
Rinchiuso said: “Players want to tap into different things, the way how they express themselves, how they see themselves and it’s completely different to 20 years ago.
“I think first we are family rather than agents but I also think we are managers. The agent side of things has changed much more to an overall, more broad management which looks after every aspect of a player’s career and life.”
Redmond added: “People talk about music and sport being so compatible but no-one has ever done it right. I think we’re doing it right. We’ve got experience on both sides, experts in their field on things like social media, marketing and I think we’re uniquely positioned.
“No-one looks at the owners of another agency and aspires to be like them. Players don’t. In our case, our players do.”