Let’s start with the positives: 2018 was a thrilling year for Liverpool Football Club. An improbable march to the Champions League final was matched by an unbeaten start to the 2018-19 domestic campaign as supporters were treated to performances on the pitch that were electric, dominant, irresistible and a class above.
Off the pitch, the shots of adrenaline were just as frequent. World-record transfers for the most in-demand players at their positions in Virgil Van Dijk—agreed in December 2017 but officially brought on in January—and Alisson Becker announced Liverpool’s return to the transfer high roller table with a bang. Then a surprise capture of Ligue 1 winner, Fabinho offset the delayed gratification of finally securing long-term target Naby Keita. Finally, a bargain basement deal for Xherdan Shaqiri capped the calendar year’s whirlwind recruitment cycle, locking in Liverpool Sporting Director, Michael Edwards’s certain knighthood.
The only people one could argue who loved the transfer bonanza more than the Red supporters—were the recruited players’ agents. With an eye-watering £245.5m in outlays to the selling clubs, The Times’ Martyn Ziegler reported that Liverpool also topped the 2018 charts in fees paid to player representatives, clocking in at £43.8m. Included in these calculations are also agent fees negotiated at the time of contract extensions, as the likes of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Jordan Henderson signed during this period.
Crazy money: Premier League clubs paid agents more than a quarter of a billion pounds in 2018/19 - Liverpool once again paying the most. pic.twitter.com/g7KhbLhRsR— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) April 4, 2019
While you will not find a single supporter in Liverpool country who will dispute even a farthing of what has been invested to bring in players who have formed the foundation of club’s strongest title challenge in the Premier League era, the ignominious agent fee distinction still raises concern.
To this end, The Telegraph has reported that new rules are set to be proposed in upcoming Premier League shareholder meetings to limit the player agent windfalls that only seem to be growing. The proposals will seek to “see the end of dual representation on a deal—when an agent is paid by both selling and buying club—and limit the amount agents can earn.”
“FIFA is now working with the Premier League and the Football Association to come up with an international framework for regulating what has come to be thought of at times as out of control.
“The key tenet is expected to be the principle of ‘player pays’—the agent fee comes out of the player’s contract rather than the payment being made by the club.”
The stated goals have been to have the new rules in place in time for the start of the 2019-20 season, which shouldn’t affect Liverpool much since Nabil Fekir will be the only transfer this summer.