The Graham Cummins column: Having an agent is essential for young players

Despite the Kevin De Bruyne example, negotiating a deal can be very tricky
The Graham Cummins column: Having an agent is essential for young players

Kevin De Bruyne has signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at Manchester City until summer 2025. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA Wire.

AGENTS are a necessity for football.

As much as some people think agents only look out for themselves and football would be better off without them, players and managers need them.

Manchester City player Kevin De Bruyne was praised for agreeing his new four-year deal with the club last week after unusually, negotiating the contract himself instead of using an agent.

It’s been suggested that fellow professional should mimic the Belgian and some might, but working without an agent is ok when you are one of the best players in the world but for younger players and players playing at a lower level, they need an agent.

For someone like De Bruyne, negotiating a new contract is very simple because he knows that City won’t be able to replace him with the same quality without having to fork out millions of pounds.

Negotiating a new deal can be very tricky.

As a player, you want the best deal possible, but you are also afraid that you might price yourself out of a contract.

An agent can ask for that ‘cheeky’ wage and knows that although the manager of the club might not like the agent, the player wouldn’t suffer because it’s not the player standing in front of the manager asking for a stupid salary.

An agent might have other players in that club, therefore knowing what the club can and can’t afford when negotiating a deal for a different player.

Also, managers might not admit it, but agents help them because if there is a low offer for a player, the manager will tell the agent the true reasons why his client isn’t getting what he wants without upsetting the player.

For younger players, who are signing their first contracts, they need to have an agent.

Imagine an 18-year-old, who hasn’t played much football and is just eager to sign a contract, going into the office and negotiating with someone who has years of business experience?

The outcome will probably be that the player won’t get what he deserves because the owner or manager – with all his experience – would have manipulated the player into signing a poor contract.

I was 22 when I got an agent and would have never had a career in the United Kingdom without him. I doubt anyone in England would have heard of a player in the League of Ireland First Division.

I never needed him to negotiate a contract for me in Ireland, but he played a major role in securing my move to Preston North End. I had a buyout clause of £100,000 with Cork City but Preston were only willing to pay €100,000.

Graham Cummins in action for Preston North End against Sheffield United. Picture: CameraSport
Graham Cummins in action for Preston North End against Sheffield United. Picture: CameraSport

I met the board and pleaded with them to let me go but they were unwilling. I rang my agent, put him on loudspeaker and two hours later he managed to come to an agreement with the City board.

If I didn’t have an agent, firstly there wouldn’t have been a bid because Preston wouldn’t have heard of me, and secondly, I wouldn’t have been able to strike a deal with City.

Even when I went to Preston, it did take time to finalise my contract because they knew I wasn’t earning a huge sum at City and offered me a small increase in my wage. It did take the full day to come to an agreement.

I was happy to sign their first offer, but my agent advised against it and in the end did get me a bit more than the initial offer.

When I was out of contract after Preston, it was my agent ringing clubs trying to sell me. I didn’t have the contacts he had and if I rang a manager and told them it was Graham Cummins the response I would have got was ‘who?’.

I got a good agent.

When I signed a contract with him it was agreed I would pay him five percent of my future wage, but he didn’t take anything off me when I signed a new deal at City and Preston paid him for my transfer.

I did pay him a small fee for both my moves to Exeter and St Johnstone.

I think for any young players looking to make a career in football agents are essential.

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