Reading FC boss Brian McDermott reveals how tracking down agents can be trickyBy Jonny Fordham
February 08, 2013
Reading manager Brian McDermott has revealed the complex web that often stands in the way of the club signing players from abroad.
Royals made four signings in the January transfer window, but one deal for a man they had been tracking for months, Stopilla Sunzu, fell through.
Centre-back Sunzu came on trial at Madejski Stadium for four days last month and McDermott was keen to follow up the interest by offering him terms on a professional deal.
However, his club TP Mazembe disputed that Sunzu’s contract ran until 2015 at the Congo club, with Royals disagreeing.
With a number of agents seemingly then speaking on behalf of the 23-year-old the transfer hit yet more complications with it eventually collapsing.
And McDermott, Reading’s former chief scout, knows all about the complicated issues that can often disrupt signing players from abroad.
The Premier League’s manager-of-the-month for January said: “There are a lot of agents out there and the toughest thing about players, especially abroad, is finding the agent.
“There are a number of agents that say they represent the player, so it’s the toughest thing to try and be a detective and find out who the agent is.
“It’s more straightforward here in this country.
"You can find the agent very easily, they will be genuine and that is it.
“Abroad you have agents who claim to represent players who have mandates to get the player and bring him into the club.
“And a lot of the time it’s not the case.
"I’ve got a few stories about when we first got into the Premier League a few years ago and we were chasing around.
“We thought we had the agent of a player, but he had nothing to do with the player, it was strange times. It’s a very strange occupation.”
Queens Park Rangers manager Harry Redknapp gave agents both barrels during the transfer window, bringing their part in the game back into question.
“I have never seen anything like this transfer window,” Redknapp said.
"Every agent seems to be trying to screw each other.
"It’s like gang warfare out there – it’s scary.
“If you’re trying to get a player, another agent will try to scupper that deal if he’s not involved in it to try to get you to have one of his instead.
"It’s unreal. Unbelievable.”
But McDermott believes the agent is still necessary for players, with many doing a good job.
“Agents are important for players,” he added.
“The most important thing for me is that the agent looks after the player.
"You have certain agents that have never met the player or never see them again when the deal is done.
“I think by definition the agent should be looking after the player, speaking to him every day and making sure he’s alright
in football terms and that’s his job.
“A lot of them just do the deal and go.
"I got a lot of texts from agents at about 8pm (on deadline day) talking about players that you wouldn’t know who they were.
"it’s bizarre, but that’s the nature of it.”