“It’s a little frustrating … I like spending three days in Paris, going for a day trip in Belgium or elsewhere … There, everything is stopped. Laurent Schmitt, agent of footballers for almost two decades, sums up well, from Brittany where he resides and remains confined, the languor in which European football has settled. Beyond the measures that limit physical contact, the uncertainty and fear that hover over the entire economy of the round ball completely parasitize a sector which usually spends its weapons at this time for the summer transfer window.
“I think we are going to have a very complicated next year, extend this intermediary who represents some players but mainly works with clubs. The economy will have to get back on track. Many clubs, even among the largest, will be in difficulty and will have to use their own funds to cope with the situation. In this context, I expect a frozen transfer window, which may very much resemble a winter period. You will have to be resourceful, be creative. There may not be cash, but opportunities to trade, like what Barça tried to do last summer in the Neymar case. “
To prepare for this period, the contours of which remain very vague (Fifa could widen the transfer window), Laurent Schmitt is trying to bring his network to life: “I make phone calls, I think a lot about the needs of clubs, their staff. I keep in touch. The cold snap is confirmed on all floors. From the richest to the most fragile. Thus, Pini Zahavi, one of the main agents of the world market, currently confined to Israel, is content to confess his “concern”: “Nobody can say what the transfer window will look like, God only knows. “
Saint-Etienne and OM on the tightrope
“The transfer window is at a complete stop,” confirms an experienced French agent. The whole sector is unemployed. In the end, I think the transfer window will be calm, with sums lower than usual and above all lower wages. Those who are going to hurt, these are the clubs already in trouble. In France, there are at least two: Saint-Etienne, which will lose in this crisis between 20 and 30 million euros (M €), and Marseille. OM wanted to charge the purchase of Rongier to its accounts for next season by betting on the increase in TV rights for Mediapro, but today, no one knows when these rights will fall. “
This interlocutor imagines that the crisis could lead the authorities to let go of the ballast: “There is going to be a battle of the big clubs against UEFA. The big ones will remind him that they would have fewer problems with a closed League and could again agitate the threat. In exchange, UEFA could suspend financial fair play for at least one season, withdraw sanctions against Manchester City for example, so that the business takes place at least between the very big. An inflection which could benefit PSG, depending on the will of Qatar, while its accounts will of course be hard hit by the current blackout.
“If UEFA lets financial fair play slip away, clubs with powerful investors will buy,” confirms another important player in the market. For players like Mbappé, there will always be buyers, but for others, it will be more difficult. Free players will be particularly affected. Cavani could hope to receive 15 or 20 M € signing bonus. It’s totally impossible today. But for this summer transfer window, everything will depend on when competition resumes. “
“I think there will be a market break”
In less prestigious clubs, we also wait with concern to know the date of recovery and the consequences of the crisis. Grégory Lorenzi, the sports director of Brest (14th in the current Ligue 1 ranking), explains: “We cannot move forward in the discussions at all. Nothing is known about the financial aspect. I think there will be a market break, while we were expecting inflation, because of the new TV rights. We cannot advance without having the right figures… We cannot project ourselves sportingly either, because, even if we hope so, we are not yet sure of staying in Ligue 1. “
Failing to finalize operations, the former defender tries to prepare, again with additional obstacles: “I never recruit on video. It serves as a support and at the moment I am looking at players that we are being offered, but I only validate in a situation, to see attitudes, the game without the ball, the level of adversity… I stay in touch with agents, who guide 90% of players’ decisions. I presented to the coach (Editor’s note: Olivier Dall’Oglio) the profiles likely to interest us, it allows him to project himself. And also to kill time, waiting for the next day.