'Pretty quiet': Ligue 1 agent on tumbleweed January transfer window

·4 min read
Credit: Ahmed Cheraft
Credit: Ahmed Cheraft

A representative of one of football’s biggest agencies was sat twiddling his thumbs during a ‘relatively quiet’ January transfer window, writes Robson McCallister.

Ahmed Cheraft works for CAA Base, an agency that lists Raphaël Varane, Heung-min Son, Kyle Walker and Carlo Ancelotti among their clientele.

Specialising in Ligue 1, Cheraft has shed some light on last month’s window.

"It was a pretty quiet one because the French market was very quiet," said the 32-year-old agent.

"There weren't many needs for clubs, the situation with the TV rights in France, on top of COVID, affected the finances of football clubs, and therefore there were only a handful of clubs looking to add to what they've got.

"I would say that it was a transfer window where I had to be creative."

The situation comes after Ligue 1's broadcaster Mediapro could not keep up with payments in a TV rights deal worth €3.25bn over four seasons.

The TV rights agreement collapsed months into the four-year deal, leaving French football clubs facing a future of financial uncertainty.

On February 1, Amazon, Discovery and DAZN were all unable to reach a broadcasting deal.

The French governing body LFP released a statement that none of the offers matched the reserve price.

With a cloud looming over Ligue 1, Cheraft has noted how the clubs went about conducting business last month.

"Most clubs were looking to sell players to generate cash which they didn't receive from the broadcaster (Mediapro)", revealed Cheraft.

"A lot of clubs were looking to sell, but there was nobody looking to buy."

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, football clubs in France have been stung by the lack of income from fans being able to attend.

Like so many others, the pandemic has also changed the day-to-day lives of football agents.

"Massively, for me, the biggest change is that we're restricted in terms of travelling", said Cheraft when asked how the pandemic affected him.

"That said, it kind of showed us that we could do business remotely.

"I've signed players remotely.

"I've done deals remotely, and before it would have been impossible to imagine because my life, personally, was full of travelling.

"Going to games, going to training grounds, meeting with people face to face.

"I do miss the element of meeting people face to face, but it showed me the world is shifting, the way things are working for everyone is changing.

"Being able to adapt is a huge strength, either you put your activity on pause until COVID goes away, or you keep going with your tools."

Working as an intermediary, Cheraft is fully aware of any potential perceptions that come within the role as a football agent.

"People will have opinions", Cheraft said when asked about the public's thoughts of agents.

"No matter what you do, they will have opinions about a certain type of person.

"Agents are human beings who have their own morals, values, beliefs and personalities.

"I understand that what football agents can earn seems so high to most people.

"It comes with a stigma, but when you look closer, you have to discover each individual at a time.

"You've got the good and the bad ones.

"The same way you've got the good and the bad doctor, the good and the bad journalist, the good and the bad lawyer."

Based at one of the sport's premium agencies at CAA Base, Cheraft also touched upon the requirements that a footballer must have to become a client.

"Attitude, character first. Then I look at talent", revealed Cheraft.

"At the start, I was focusing more on what I could see on the pitch.

"I focus a hell of a lot on identifying talent, technically, physically, tactically, but also individuals that I see myself working with, and have got the right attitude to go and get what I call the 'next step'.

"There's always the next step in someone's career, even with someone at the top, there's the next step.

"I'm big on growth mindset and people that want to better themselves, and this is what I look for primarily in a player, a strong individual."