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Exclusive | Top French agent Laurent Schmitt: “Newcastle have changed transfer policy.”

Speaking exclusively to Get French Football News, top French agent Laurent Schmitt discussed the decision made by the Premier League to close their window on the 9th of August and the real-life ramifications that it is having on the French market.

This year, the Premier League transfer window closes on the 9th August. How do you think this has impacted the market in general?

What it means is that the deals that would have happened later on in the window are being done right now. This allows the French, Spanish and Italian leagues to do their business afterwards, having already sold to the Premier League. I think it’s a great thing for these markets, that don’t have as much financial power as the English. Standardising the date of the deadline across Europe would be a mistake as it wouldn’t allow these clubs the time to reinvest their money. This is true for all of the other European leagues apart from Germany, who I’d say are the only ones whose market is not wholly dependent on the Premier League.

Do you see a lot of big moves happening between Ligue 1 and the Premier League in these final days as a result of this?

There will definitely be big departures, although the definition of ‘big’ depends on the club. For example, if Mbenza were to leave Montpellier, that would be their most valuable player gone. The same goes with Guingamp with Salibur, Toulouse with Jullien and Sangaré, or Dijon with Sliti. They would be massive losses for their respective clubs, but it would give them a great spending power in return.

Newcastle have been closely linked with PSG’s N’Soki and Lyon’s Maolida, what do you make of this?

It shows that they’ve changed their transfer policy, since before they were buying up established Ligue 1 players such as Sissoko or Ben Arfa and others which didn’t work out. Now we see that through Benitez they are targeting younger players, following a model closer to that of Leipzig or Dortmund. This can be a good thing, as young players are likely to be more adaptable to the Premier League than the players that came before. Even Thauvin, a World Cup winner now, struggled over there.

Will this become a trend?

Of course. Premier League clubs understand that they have to buy these players at a younger age and that there’s no need to wait around for them to get experience in Ligue 1 first. We can see this in Germany with Zagadou and Diallo having joined Dortmund. Pavard is the best example of this type of young player that understands that they need to play elsewhere – if he hadn’t gone to Stuttgart, he wouldn’t be in the national team now.

So young French players have more of an incentive to go abroad?

This doesn’t just happen abroad, we can see with Lyon buying second division players such as N’Dombélé and developing them that it happens in France too. What Newcastle are doing now is something that’s been done by many clubs in France – Lyon and Monaco – or Germany – Dortmund and Leipzig – for a number of years. You can see this with Valencia too, they’ve already got Diakhaby and are looking at young players who will be out of contract.

Clubs abroad have realised that age is just a number. Mbappé is the best example of this, a player can be good whatever their age.

What is the market like for an agent in the final days of the window?

It’s more stressful and things happen more quickly. We used to have only one day in the window where this was the case, the 31st, but now there’s two deadlines. It mostly stays the same though, with the same pressure and bustle. You have players who want to complete a move as soon as possible, clubs rushing to get a deal over the line and others desperate to offload before the deadline. It doesn’t change a lot for me though, I’ve been doing this for 15 years and I’ve seen it all before.

I know that the end of the window bothers a lot of other agents, but for me that’s not the case. One of the main differences is that we agents in France are the only ones to have rules and regulations imposed on us that we are meant to follow. There’s also no diploma for agents anymore, which means that there’s more and more of us acting as intermediaries. In the end you have to know what you are doing. Some are purely player agents, I’m more of an intermediary liaising between players and other competent people in football.

R.J.

 

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