When signing any big name in football today, it almost becomes obvious that the buying club will need to pay some large agency fees. Outside of a few rare examples such as Kevin de Bruyne, agents are an ever-present source of frustration for clubs. They tend to push demands, drop talks, move deadlines, and generally make it as hard as is possible for a club to complete the signing of a major player. This exact situation looks like it might have cost Chelsea one of their game-changing summer signings.
The move for Internazionale wing-back Achraf Hakimi made sense. The former Borussia Dortmund loanee had impressed hugely in his time in Germany, and his move to Inter from Real Madrid was a surprise given how highly he was thought of. However, his move to Italy has paid off as Hakimi has quickly developed a reputation as one of the finest wing-backs in the world. Given Thomas Tuchel is keen to keep on playing with wing-backs, this should really come as no surprise that the Blues were interested.
However, reports suggest that the club have baulked at the concept of paying ‘eye-watering’ agency fees for the 22-year-old. With the fee already set to hit as much as €70m, the Blues would have been paying even more to land the player. Instead, it looks like the player will instead make a move to Paris Saint-Germain. PSG were also believed to have been happier to pay the fees and to offer the fee in full, whereas Chelsea were happy to offer staggered payments paired up with players to reduce the outright cash fee.
As such, it looks like Tuchel will need to look for a new wing-back as he looks to continue building a Chelsea team to be feared.
What happens next?
Well, for one, according to Matt Law, a respected football journalist who was on the London is Blue podcast, there will not be a return for the player. Chelsea are ready to move on, with Law noting: “I did some checking, and Chelsea’s interest in Hakimi has been real. From what I’m told, there is basically large agent fees involved with Hakimi,
“We’ve been here before with Chelsea, they don’t like those massive agent fees. It seems like PSG are willing to pay the agent exactly what he wants and a huge amount of wages for a right-back. I think that has dimmed Chelsea’s interest slightly.”
This, though, could be a flash point of contention. It means that a key target for a coach who ticked more or less every box in his first half-season is being left to dry again. The same issues happened with the equally talented Antonio Conte. Though the club might not want to become known for paying high agency fees, it might be something that has to be compromised on.
The last thing the club wants is to end up back where they did with Conte; an unhappy coach who feels underappreciated. While there is a line to be drawn somewhere, some fear the line is too quick to be drawn in periods of success for Chelsea.