A few players today opt to handle their own transfers or contract negotiations without football agents.
In modern football, transfer talks, or even contract negotiations with clubs, have played an important role in a player’s career. Typically, some players use professional football agents or even super agents to close the deal, while others rely on their next of kin to handle it as such is complex matter with piles of paperwork to deal with.
A few players, however, have become anomalies by representing themselves in contract negotiations with their clubs or even making moves elsewhere. This is legal and even permitted by FIFA in their most recent regulation on player-agents, which has been in effect since 2023. It could pose a threat to football agencies in the future if more players stop using their services. Here are five well-known names who have taken unusual steps to resolve their contract and future.
The right wing back has begun to represent himself since January 2023, after his agent, Jacques Lichtenstein, decided to retire due to his long-term illness. Last season, the Belgian international was on Barcelona’s radar before extending his contract with Dortmund until the summer of 2024. After returning from injury, he has featured in the last five Bundesliga games this season, including Die Borussen‘s most recent match against Darmstadt, where he got the nod in the lineup.
The Dutch forward started it even earlier. In 2021, he represented himself in negotiations with Barcelona, with the assistance of his legal advisor and manager, Sebastien Ledure, to part ways with Lyon. Unfortunately, his time at Camp Nou was marred by injuries, which hampered his performance.
What is more, the former PSV and Manchester United man had to cut short his stint with the Catalan side due to the managerial changes from Ronald Koeman to Xavi. The former was reason he moved to La Liga giant. Yet, Koeman failed miserably in his second season as he was not seen the right figure to lead the team by the club’s president, Joan Laporta. On the other hand, Xavi did not see him part of his plan. Depay eventually left and joined Atlético Madrid in January 2023.
The German international is another player who fits in this category. Kimmich has been representing himself since 2021 while negotiating a contract extension with Die Roten. Nonetheless, it has been reported that he is looking for an agent to help him facilitate his move, should there be no agreement on a new deal this year. The versatile midfielder’s contract is set to expire in summer 2025. Barcelona and Manchester City have been linked as his next destinations. The former has even already shown interest in signing him since last summer.
The England winger is one of the very few examples of players without agents in the Premier League. He already represented himself while holding talks with Chelsea in summer 2022 to pursue his trade to the Blues. The former Manchester City player appears to be taking matters into his own hands due to his disappointment with the role of football agents. Adrian Ward, his former agent, was said to have forced his departure from Liverpool in 2015. He is currently suspended by the FA for 20 months until December 2024 due to representing an U16 player.
Kevin De Bruyne
The Belgian international, whose return on the pitch made an instant impact on his club’s dramatic victory over Newcastle last weekend, has been known for relying on none but himself in contract negotiations. In November 2020, he carried out the extension talk with Manchester City for his five-year contract. De Bruyne confidently counts on ‘TransferLab’, a big data technology, as a reference to work out his own transfer value.
He began to represent himself after his former agent, Patrick de Koster, stumbled on a fraud and money laundering case in August 2020. Most recently, Manchester City key man even convinced his club to sign his Belgian teammate in the national team, Jérémy Doku last summer.
What the former Wolfsburg and Chelsea man does can trigger a new trend in the future and surely threaten football agents’ existence. They have been considered taking advantage of the players’ value for their own huge bonus. At some point, certain agents even orchestrate the move, which can be against the players’ will. This is where FIFA’s new regulation on football agents comes in to resolve it.