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Over the last decade, the business of player representation in world soccer has enjoyed remarkable growth: Just in 2022, FIFA estimates that soccer clubs have disbursed $623 million in agent commissions, marking a 24% increase on the previous year. As a result, soccer agents have taken up new responsibilities that reach beyond the basic negotiation of a player’s contract.

To understand the evolution of an agent’s role in modern soccer, I sat down with Alessandro Lucci, who has represented elite players and coaches for over 20 years through his Italy-based World Soccer Agency, whose client portfolio features high-profile names like Tottenham Hotspur’s Dejan Kulusevski, Juventus’s Leonardo Bonucci and Inter Milan’s Edin Dzeko.

The Agency Over The Agent

Soccer agents are an established figure in European soccer. They represent players and coaches when it’s time to negotiate a deal, helping them with their contract’s legal and financial ramifications, while serving as an intermediary for buying and selling clubs. At the time of the signature, they work to refine their client’s salary, performance-related bonuses as well as their image and commercial rights.

These are the agents’ most common duties, and those responsible for earning them the largest commissions, which in the case of world-class soccer players can even be in the tens of millions for a single deal. However, agents have much more going on behind the scenes.

To keep up with the times, Lucci explained during our interview on Friday in his Milan office, soccer agents have had to develop into an all-round figure.

Today, we don’t speak any longer about the agent, but rather the agency,” said Lucci, whose World Soccer Agency currently manages 39 clients that together boast $283 million in market value, one of the highest in Italy according to Transfermarkt estimates.

“Soccer evolves at an incessant pace and, as a result, our role evolves too.”

The Agency’s Many Jobs In Modern Soccer

When Lucci brokered his first major deal, namely Serginho’s transfer from Brazilian side São Paulo to Serie A giants AC Milan back in 1999, he remembers that his job was limited to negotiating the best possible terms for his client.

It was a different era, everything moved at a much slower pace,” said Lucci.

Now, to remain competitive in this modern, fast-paced sports world, agents have had to broaden their services, becoming a reference figure that manages virtually all aspects of a client’s life – and not just their employment contract. Today, their duties extend beyond the famous moment in which a client gets photographed for inking their signature on a new deal.

Players don’t have only field-related necessities,” Lucci explained. “That’s why we guarantee services in marketing, communication, administration, logistics, finance and legal protection.

Providing a comprehensive service is now vital to attract new clients and allow them to channel all their mental energy into performing on the pitch. This is especially true for top-rated players and coaches, whose involvement in international competitions puts them in a situation where they are always training, playing games or traveling.

For these reasons, many of Lucci’s clients nowadays seek professional help with a number of non-soccer related issues, which range from basic life necessities like finding a new apartment or opening up a bank account to mundane activities like making sure they update their Instagram feed with the proper picture and caption.

Our services include house rent or furnishings, the rental of a private charter to reach all kinds of destinations, the management of social media communication and assistance in the financial and legal fields,” Lucci specified.

The Industry’s Future Challenges

One of the major challenges in this fast-moving industry is the ability to beat rival agencies to the recruitment of new players, especially when they belong to foreign markets.

To identify rising soccer stars that have the potential to develop into multimillion dollar assets, Lucci’s World Soccer Agency has offices located outside of Italy, namely in England, Brazil and Uruguay, and collaborates with talent scouts on North American soil.

We always keep an eye on emerging players, regardless of their nationality, and on transfer movements even far from Europe,” said Lucci, who revealed the agency’s intention to open an office in Los Angeles to enhance monitoring of the North American soccer market.

Many interesting U.S. players are coming to Europe. It’s a clear signal of the huge steps taken by the U.S. with its soccer system.

Perhaps more than anything else, Lucci admits that adapting to the virtual means of communication in the post-pandemic era has been a challenge for someone like him, who has spent the last 25 years leveraging his in-person negotiating skills to broker a deal.

“I need to conduct deals one-on-one, because it allows me to generate that energy, that magnetic field that becomes overwhelming during a negotiation,” Lucci said. “Remotely, you can’t generate that energy.

However, he recognizes that the process of selling a player will inevitably transition to the digital world, where the speed and quality of communication will end up making a difference for the success or failure of a deal.

The definition and immediacy with which you send a message has completely changed our living pace, which is why the dominant figure will be the one of communication,” Lucci said.

I can imagine that in five years, communication alone will sell players for you”.

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