GFFN sat down with football agent Mikkel Beck on Monday for a comprehensive interview about the current state of the French market going into the January transfer window and the statuses of some of his best known clients.
What was it like to see client Eder score the EURO 2016-winning goal?
I think for me it was no surprise because I know Eder. I speak to him regularly and I know how hard he works to achieve his goals. So, I know that one of his goals was to go to the Euros and to go there he needed to have a strong first 6 months of 2016. Together I think we found a perfect club with him.
He did his job and went to the Euros. Which he fully deserved. And you know what, sometimes it is not really a surprise to you when some people achieve what they want because knowing how hard he worked to get to the Euros and to score that goal in the final it was six months’ work. I could not have been happier for him.
With Gérard Lopez set to purchase Lille in January 2017, despite some delays, are you excited by this new proposed project at the club?
Yes and no. I would say as a fan of Lille yes it would be nice to see someone coming in who wants to spend some money and wants to build a big team. On the other hand, I will also be a little bit saddened to see some of the people who have been there over the years and who have done so many great things at the club, to maybe eventually be pushed aside. I think Lille is one of the best clubs in France, looking back over the past 10 years and also one of the clubs that I think has been working the most professionally and been the most organised.
We have to say that they have had a lot of success, they have probably finished in the top six in eight of the last ten years. So it is a top club and they have done well. In a difficult situation mostly, because they have not had the same amount of money than some of the other clubs have had, they have had to dig out unknown players from abroad or second division in France and develop them into becoming big talents and then selling them on.
They have been amazing, capable of doing that year after year and then again selling for a lot of money the next summer. It is an incredible job they have done and all respect to them. The problem of course is that the President has wanted for a while now to sell the club and he is getting older and he wants to concentrate on other things and you can fully understand that. He wanted to try to find the best possible man to take over the project and he believes that this is the one. So, we have to see what happens.
Of course you never know what is just around the corner but we can hope for Lille, being a big fan of the club, that is going to positive for them. In any case, I certainly think that those people, it will hard to see a Lille without those people.
Sébastien Corchia finally received his first international cap for France recently. Does this mark the beginning of a new chapter for him?
Of course I was one of the happiest ones, together with his family and himself that he finally achieved what I think he fully deserves. He has been working really hard and has had a very good career, maybe not a career that is recognised enough by certain people but I think he has always been one of the best right-backs in France. He has worked hard to final get that first cap, hopefully one of many in the years to come.
I think he has matured and already last year I think he did very well, especially in the last six months and this season he has been probably the best performer or at least one of the most consistent in a Lille team that has not always been doing too well this season.
So I think that it is amazing to see how he is dedicated to achieving his goals. You can say that it is probably a new chapter for him because he is now a fully French international and can even step-up a gear now and maybe even fight for becoming the full starter in the national team. He will work hard on that and I will of course help him in any way I can.
Watch out Djibril Sidibé.
Yes you could say that but I think it is normal, you are always in competition with others but it does not matter if he is called Sidibé or Sagna or someone else. You will always want to fight to become the best and to claim the starting position.
Corchia only has 18 months left on his Lille contract. That is something that surely, whether it is the new owners or whether it is the Seydoux regime in the coming months are going to want to address. What is your position on that at the moment?
Well, I think we are in a very good position with regards to the contract situation of Sébastien. He is fully focused on doing well for Lille as he has just recently said in an interview. I know him very well and he is very professional. At the moment he is not asking himself too many questions about his contract situation. That is more up to me to concentrate about that.
Of course, as such a good player and having just got his first cap for France, and with only 18 months left on his contract, of course we are in a really good position. Towards Lille or even towards even bigger clubs on the European market. So we are taking it day by day and Sébastien knows that he needs to concentrate first of all on performing for Lille and then we will take it as it comes.
Let’s move on to another Lille player, Rony Lopes of course. Unbelievable that he is still on 20, he has been a force in Ligue 1 for several seasons now. Another loan move to Lille from AS Monaco occurred this summer. What was the original thinking behind this one?
The original thinking was to be guaranteed to play week in, week out, knowing that Monaco has incredibly talented players like Bernardo Silva and Lemar in the same positions that Rony plays in, we knew that this season we would be competing with those two in terms of playing. There would have been no guarantee in terms of playing week in, week out. I think that Rony at this time in his career needs to be playing all the time.
He actually had a really good pre-season with Monaco and the coach was really happy with the progress he has made the year before at Lille. The coach was not happy about letting him go and I think we did the right thing in going back to Lille. Rony loves the club, it is like his second home and he knew that if he went back there he would be playing and Lille have a good team this season. I think it was really down to playing time and to keep progressing.
Patrick Collot has come in recently at Lille and implemented a more attacking style of play. Do you think that it is one that is more conducive to Rony succeeding?
Of course, I think Pat Collot, who I know very well because I played with him at Lille when I played for the club, is doing a great job. I know him very well and I think he has done amazingly well since he has taken over. He has given the team a freedom to express themselves.
And he has let them attack and try to make the difference. For Rony this is important, because he is and will always be an attacking player, so I think we have seen a very very good Lille side in the last four games and amongst others a very strong Rony Lopes. And hopefully Lille can continue under Pat Collot.
The reason why Lucas Digne went on loan originally to AS Roma was in order to receive increased playing time. Did that mind-set shift when arguably the best club in the world in the form of Barcelona came knocking in summer?
We were in a situation in the summer where we wanted to leave Paris and we had some options. But, Barcelona is a club that has always been following Lucas since he was 15 or 16 years old and I have always been in regular contact with this club about him. We had to see first of all whether Roma wanted to or could keep him or not.
Because they had a buying option, so in that case there was not really a lot that we could do until the buying option ran out which it did in the middle of June. From that day on we could start talking to other clubs, which we did but we also spoke with Barcelona.
We weighed the opportunity to go the best club in the world and work with an incredible coach like Luis Enrique with the best players arguably in the world. We weighed that very highly and Lucas was very clear from the beginning when he heard about their interest that that could be the dream move for him.
And after having spoken with Luis Enrique, after knowing very well the project he was going into, he didn’t think twice. We went quickly and we sealed the deal and we have never looked back.
We spoke to some other clubs as well, there were some other clubs showing interest, also some big English sides. But in the end, we decided to move quickly when Barca came in we did the right thing. Lucas right I said is at the right club where he should be.
We are not thinking anymore about who were interested, we are thinking that we did the right thing to sign for Barca and he is living his dream. I think Lucas has played so much more than everyone would have expected him to so quickly and I think he has responded very, very positively and he has played at a very high level.
He has shown everyone that he is where he should be and he also knows and feels that he is at the biggest club in the world and he is living his dream, and can’t wait to stay for many years in this club and become hopefully another Barca legend.
Are you worried that the increased competition that comes with playing at FC Barcelona might disadvantage Lucas in terms of nailing down a starting spot for the French national team?
Not at all. We know very well that the club will always be the most important thing and the national team will always be a bonus. And that is why we could not decide from the point of view of the national team, we had to decide from the point of view of which club he wanted to join. So, to join Barca, is incredible.
I think anyone would like to go there if he could. And we know that Barca have so many games to play every season, such a physical demanding game, so Lucas knows that he will be playing many games this season. Obviously, in time we hope that he will take over from Alba and become a Barca legend in years to come.
That is the reason why we signed. He respects Alba for being a great player and he has a really good relationship with Alba and for the moment they have shared the playing time very well and I think that Luis Enrique is very happy to have two left-backs who can play whenever he needs them to.
That is at least the feeling you get and that is also why they went for Lucas because it was too demanding for Jordi Alba last season to play alone. At Barcelona you need two top players in every position to fight for all those titles that they are in the running for. I think that everyone is happy.
Ronny Rodelin’s impeccably underrated 2015/16 campaign has been matched by excellent performances this season so far for Caen. The club is however struggling. Might we come to a situation in January where Ronny is open to listening to offers?
It is not really on our radar at the moment, a move in January. I think we decided in the summer to sign a three-year deal with Caen because Ronny knows that he is very appreciated in the club and he knows that he has a coach that loves him. His coach is a former striker also so he knows how to give strikers a lot of confidence.
I think with Ronny Rodelin we needed to build up an interest in terms of feeling because he has not scored enough goals in recent years at Lille and Nantes so with him scoring 10 goals last season we agreed that if we went back to Caen and played another season like this that we could maybe have some interesting options this summer.
So I don’t think that a move in January would be logical. I think he needs to continue progressing and growing and then let’s see what happens with his form because he has only scored three goals this season but if you have seen the games of Caen for me he has been the most consistent player this season again. He has been incredible, even in the games where he hasn’t scored he has been so important for the team.
There seems to be change in the air, and we could be expecting a very busy January transfer window in France. Do you echo those sentiments?
I get the feeling we could yes. There is more money than ever in French football at the moment. There will be clubs with enough money to spend, I think they will all try to spend wisely so they will be looking which options they will have and of course only doing something if they feel the players can make them stronger.
But I think we could possibly be seeing a more active January window than usual.