To the north of London, past the dim and forbidding landscapes of Luton, there is a modest sized town with a pub which is known as the Toppled Bollard. That’s not its real name – it is just the name given to it by locals who noticed that all the keep left signs in the area had been knocked over by those who inhabit the pub.
This is the pub where agents meet. The fact that it is not in London gives us a clue as to what is going on. They meet at the Toppled Bollard in order to ensure that they make the most money without anyone noticing that apart from making money they don’t do anything.
The future of Adebayor like that of the Manchester Bankrupt player Ronaldododo is worked on inside this building. Same with any player with an agent. (I am told Pires is the only guy in recent years who did it all himself – if true, one up to your Sir Robert).
The central aim of the agents in all these discussions is to create uncertainty and confusion. Their first step is to ensure that the agents of various players are not in any way undermining each other’s efforts through crossed-messages. Hence the meetings at the Bollard.
So, if we take Ade as an example (and I don’t mean him personally – it applies to all of them), the agent starts by checking which clubs might be linked to Ade – and ensuring that he can run the story without that distracting from another story that is running. If there are other stories already doing the rounds, this has to be woven into the myth that is created.
The agent in question (to give him a name we’ll call him Mr Bleed-em-dry – or Bleed for short) rules out most clubs (Wigan for example are not likely to make a bid for Ade, although Ronaldodo might fit in) and is left with a short list. Real Madrid is out in terms of a bid for Ade because they are playing with Ronaldodo. Barca are already tied up with a story about Hleb, and so on.
So we get to Milan – but they have said they will maybe take Berbatov from the Tiny Totts.
Next step the Milan story is expanded to “here is our shortlist” and it now includes several centre forwards – incorporating Ade into the mix. Then Berbatov is needed for another story, so he (and in fact all the others) are dropped from the Milan list, and Mr Bleed has a story that goes, “Milan says its Ade or nothing.”
What does Ade know about this? Bugger all, actually. He’s on holiday in Nepal or New Zealand or Nigeria or somewhere else starting with N. But a statement is put out saying that Ade would be “proud to play for Milan”. Which is true – few players stay at one club for ever, and they all have to be proud to play for a big team. I’d be proud to play for Milan – although so far they haven’t asked me. I’d be proud to play for Wood Green Town, but they went bust, so I can’t.
So, all we have is a story created by Mr Bleed, the agent. Nothing else is happening.
Now Mr Bleed goes to Arsenal and says, “My client wants a new contract. Last year he scored as many as that Henry character in his 3rd year, so more dosh please. You will have heard about Milan’s interest. Honest truth governors I don’t know where these stories come from but there it is. What do you say?”
And Arsenal have to reply.
Meanwhile the sorry and sad little people in Milan, like Mr Berlusconi and all those types, look at the story and think, “hey this Ade chap, he looked quite good when we played Arsenal. What do you think?”
And someone else says, “well, the movement is with us – it is a big story – let’s stoke up the story and do something.” So they make a £20 million bid, which actually isn’t a £20m bid, but involves all sorts of sell on deals, price additions, payment per game, and a few other bits including an agreement that Arsenal will stop laughing when Flamini returns to his form of the year before last) which if you value them up comes to something that might be in that arena, but probably isn’t.
Now Ade, who actually quite likes the superstar status of being compared to that Terry Henry chap, and who doesn’t want to go anywhere, gets back home and says, “Hey Mr Bleed what you doing – I didn’t say that stuff – I like Arsenal,” and Bleed replies, “Don’t worry my son, you ain’t going nowhere, but I am just negotiating another £1 a second pay deal for you.”
“And do they pay that when I am asleep?” says Ade.
“Sure does,” says Mr Bleed, and Ade gets his £31,000 a week pay rise, except he has to give 20% of that to Mr Bleed, who having spent a few nice nights in the Toppled Bollard and made one phone call to Arsenal, has made himself a cool £6200 a week in addition to everything else he makes. He goes back to the Toppled Bollard, has a lot to drink, drives his Merc out of the carpark onto the main road and hits a keep left sign.
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