The Bloody Big Deal.
Yeah. Like you needed to be reminded. What was once heralded as a major coup by MLS standards, eventually turned into a circus. For those of you who are unfamiliar, this was the marketing campaign created by MLSE to bring striker Jermaine Defoe to Toronto FC from Tottenham Hotspur of the Premiership in England. For those of us who are familiar, it is often referenced with a snicker, or even for some, disdain.
I am not one of those. I prefer to reflect on this as a watershed moment in the club’s history. The moment they arrived on the world’s stage. Soccer’s Big Time.
Indirectly associated with this operation was the arrival of a general. A general of the soccer pitch that is – Michael Bradley. He helped create stability, and was solely responsible for fostering the character and culture of the current squad. After one season, Jermaine Defoe was eventually jettisoned back to England in favour of Jozy Altidore. Then came the acquisition of Sebastian Giovinco. Big time players in their prime playing for TFC. A dream scenario. But lurking over their shoulder with a constant desire to be in control – their agents.
For the most part, player agents will have their clients’ best interests in mind. Whatever those interests may be, this is a business. Everyone is looking to get paid. There is more money in the game than ever before. The emergence of the Chinese Super League is just one example. As has been shown, its clubs are willing to splash ludicrous, bloated sums of cash on transfer fees and player wages. Players in the twilight of their careers looking for one last windfall are the obvious candidates (Carlos Tevez, Ezequiel Lavezzi) but so are players in their prime (Oscar, Jackson Martinez). These are a soccer player’s best earning years. A small window that closes ever so slightly, year by year, like watching a draw bridge slowly return to street level. And most of all, player agents know this.
Uber agents like Mino Raiola (Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and Kia Joorabchian (Tevez, Oscar) are opportunists, and have been taking advantage of a player’s window for years. Slithering around, looking for the next easy meal. When someone is willing to offer it to them, they pounce like a predatory snake.
Now that’s a Bloody Big Deal.
You don’t have to look further than the aforementioned’s dealings with Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson to prove my point.
Many transfer arrangements have commission fees that balloon into the millions. One doesn’t have to be a mathematician to understand that player movement generates revenue. The more a player relocates, the greater an agent benefits. If an agent wasn’t doing their utmost to seek out new opportunities, they wouldn’t be working to their potential. Money not earned is money lost.
Sebastian Giovinco’s agent Andrea D’Amico is just doing his due diligence. Even though Giovinco has stated that he is content in Toronto and wants to win here, D’Amico has been persistent in keeping the flames stoked. Wanting to “see the offer” and deciding “what to do together with TFC” are his way of trying to get leverage.
I truly believe that Giovinco wants to stay here. All of this posturing is probably a strategy to get a more lucrative contract with the club. Whatever the case may be, TFC will be dealing with a lot more of these situations in the future. Big time players have big time agents to deal with big time clubs. That’s what Toronto FC is now. Big Time.
Get used to it.
By William Jamieson