EPL: The 4 Most Cunning Football Agents Ever
Football agents are known as the men who get things done for the players.
Contract agreements, pay rises, bonuses, appearance fees—even WAGs to have some fun with.
They’re basically their clients' arms and legs off the pitch.
However, football agents have been shed in a very bad light in recent years, due to their animal-like poaching and demands on behalf of players, which have been condemned by managers and players alike.
Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United, has spoken about his hatred of football agents. He's even told the media of their tactics.
Ex-Manchester United player Gary Neville has also condemned the role of middle men, stating that he would like to see them removed from the game completely.
The outspoken defender has said that the motives of these men are only to siphon money off players, claiming footballers are much better without them.
So what makes these football agents such hated men?
We take a look at the four most hated football agents that have tarnished the image of the beautiful game in England.
Didier and Claude Anelka (Nicolas Anelka)
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Nicolas Anelka was a wanted striker during his time at Arsenal.
The Frenchman was a constant threat to defenders with his pace and deadly accuracy.
His portfolio blossomed after he won the double with Arsenal and picked up the PFA Young Player award in the 1998/99 season.
Europe was on alert and lots of big clubs showed interest, before Real Madrid came in with a bid. Arsenal had no intention of selling Anelka, but the striker was determined to leave the Gunners.
In stepped his brothers.
The family bond tightened when Didier and Claude, who had been acting as advisers to the player, spoke to Real in hopes of pulling off a deal.
These guys were not licensed agents; they just liaised through a third party agent to make a quick buck.
After much controversy, the brothers forced a deal through and Real Madrid signed Nicolas Anelka for a record fee of £22 million, much to Arsenal's disgust.
Karma bit hard.
Anelka was a flop and lasted only a year at Real before being sold to PSG.
Paul Stretford (Wayne Rooney)
The ex-vacuum cleaner salesman, who was infamously seen golfing with client Wayne Rooney, incurred the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson after he tried to get Rooney to leave Manchester United last summer.
However, this agent has always been trouble—ever since he made the deal that saw Rooney arrive from Everton, eight years ago.
Stretford convinced Rooney to ditch his agent, McIntosh Pro-Form Sports Management Limited, and sign with his company instead.
He even claimed that McIntosh’s representative, Dave Lockwood, tried to hire gangsters to intimidate him!
Then the truth surfaced.
Stretford was convicted of encouraging Wayne Rooney and his family to enter an agreement with his company when Rooney was still contracted to McIntosh.
The FA found him guilty on seven counts, including making false statements to the police and in court.
He was fined £300,000 and banned for nine months.
After all the dust had settled, Stretford was reportedly paid £1.5 million for Wayne Rooney’s transfer from Everton—the biggest payment ever to be received by an English-based agent.
He was then fired from his company for solely looking after the interests of himself, Rooney and wife, Colleen.
Sir Alex Ferguson describes Paul Stretford as, “not the most popular man in the world—certainly at our club.” It was an understatement, to say the least.
Kia Joorabchian (Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano)
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Kia Joorabchian is known as the most hated man in football. Simple as that.
He blew up the Carlos Tevez saga so big that even natural disasters were made to look like small news.
In 2006, Joorabchian brought both Javier Mascherano and Carlos Tevez to West Ham United, having retained a share in both of them from his previous company, Media Sports Investments.
No doubt, West Ham benefited from the Argentinian duo, but Joorabchian’s third-party ownership of the players made things complicated.
According to the Premier League rules, clubs are allowed to have third-party ownerships as long as the investors don’t interfere with the club’s playing or transfer policy.
However, Joorabchian wasn’t going to do that. In fact, he retained the power to transfer either player at any time during their contract with West Ham.
His meddling ways caused West Ham to be fined £5.5 million on grounds of entering third-party contracts.
Not only that, but West Ham also had to settle an out-of-court agreement with relegated club Sheffield United, who claimed Carlos Tevez should have been ineligible to play. After all, were it not for his heroics, West Ham would have been relegated instead of them.
In the end, West Ham and Carlos Tevez finally got out of Joorabchian’s misery when the Argentine signed for Manchester City and removed him from his third-party ownership, rumored to be a whopping £47 million.
This was an agent who tried to suck a relegation club dry during their most tremulous moments.
Kia Joorabchian was not only a hated man in West Ham, but rather, in England and everywhere else he tried his nonsense.
Pini Zahavi (Ashley Cole)
Pini Zahavi is known as football's first and only super agent because of his numerous connections in the footballing world.
The Israeli has been involved in some of the most controversial transfers of the last decade, including Rio Ferdinand to Manchester United and Yakubu to Middlesbrough.
He earned an estimated £4.15 million for both transfers—the largest ever fee disclosed in English football.
Being a close friend of Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich, he was in charge of most dealings of players bought by the club, earning as much £5 million in the process.
Former owner Ken Bates had some choice words for him, for more reasons than one.
But he took greediness to another level when he tried to make mega-bucks by "tapping up" Ashley Cole from Arsenal—an incident which is still talked about today, and one of the reasons that the left back is so hated by Gunners fans.
In 2005, the English FA recommended that "Mr. Big" be investigated for his role in breaching Premier League regulations, after he was pictured at the Royal Park Hotel on January 27, with Ashley Cole, then-Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho and Roman Abramovich—possibly trying to arrange a move.
It pulled through, controversially.
The player did initially sign a new contract with Arsenal, but still moved to Chelsea in August, sparking fury and disgust amongst fans and neutrals alike. Cole’s agent, Jonathan Barnett, was found guilty and was banned for nine months.
However, Pini Zahavi escaped, only because his registration was under the Israeli FA.
Everyone knew he was the mastermind. This transfer was only going to happen through someone who had various connections and influence. He maintained his innocence, but his reputation has diminished rapidly ever since.