In his sixth exclusive column for CaughtOffside, super-agent Rob Segal lifts the lid on what’s really going on in British football.
Heavy-handed French police and UEFA acted poorly last weekend…
Last weekend’s Champions League final signalled the end of the 2021-22 domestic season and many congratulations to Real Madrid for lifting the prestigious trophy.
Although the game itself was an enthralling watch, the scenes outside of the Stade de France prior to kick-off were a cause for major concern.
Hardline tactics are usually used by the police to keep people in check before there is any need to. I don’t think Liverpool fans are interested in causing trouble, their team is flying and they’ve been so successful that there is almost a party atmosphere with them wherever they go.
When I saw those pictures on Saturday night, there were literally more families with children than gangs of older people. I think the French police were trying to prove a point when there was no point to be proven.
It is also typical of UEFA to come up with a load of nonsense to try and save face. I have to read emails from them all the time which baffle me to the point of making my stomach turn so I wasn’t surprised that the first thing UEFA did, with no evidence, was to say that there was a mass of forged tickets – what a load of rubbish!
Sadio Mane’s decision to leave Liverpool must be personal…
Moving onto another Liverpool-related talking point. One of this summer transfer window’s biggest stories, so far, appears to be Sadio Mane leaving Anfield and moving to Bayern Munich.
It’s illogical. I just cannot understand why Mane would leave the best league in the world and a club where he would probably get more money than at Bayern Munich – I can only think something personal has happened there. Why, when you’re at a club that continually achieves great things, would you want to leave?
I am sure the news that Mane is leaving has come as no surprise to Liverpool. If fans have just found out, then you can guarantee the club has known for a few months.
In terms of a potential replacement, I have no idea who they may end up pursuing, if anyone, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Liverpool turned around and said ‘get on with it, you can go for free next summer’. They definitely won’t make it easy for him to leave for a cut-price.
Harry Winks needs more first-team football…
Spurs agree that Harry Winks should be playing more games than he is. Playing 20 games when your club is playing 40 games a season isn’t a good enough return for a player who has international aspirations. He is at a good age and just wants to play, but it is really hard for Winks because he’s been at the club for 20-years – it’s a very long time.
But, on the other hand, it is difficult because after a while, like anybody in any job, you do get a little bit tired of it – the same wallpaper every day. It is one of those situations where you don’t necessarily want to leave, but you know you have to.
At this stage, they will have to wait and see what develops over the course of the transfer window. I would imagine it would be preferable for everybody if Winks leaves on a permanent deal. There will be clubs wanting him who aren’t in a position to sign him. Newly-promoted clubs, for example. Those clubs probably aren’t going to be able to spend fortunes during their first season back in the Premier League, they’re likely to be looking for loans.
Spurs are unlikely to sign a replacement midfielder…
Should Winks end up leaving Spurs, I don’t think a replacement central midfielder is that high up on their list. I think they will go after a centre-back and a striker first. I am not totally convinced they need another midfielder next season, especially when they still have Oliver Skipp to come back. I don’t think this Spurs team is a particularly ‘Conte-esque’ team, certainly not at the moment anyway, but you can’t go out and replace them all in a window or two. It is going to take time.
Manchester United will listen to offers for Brandon Williams…
Brandon Williams left Manchester United to go and play regular Premier League football with Norwich City, which he has done really successfully. It wasn’t easy for him either. He is a young lad and had to move to the other end of the country, but what he doesn’t want to do now is go back to Old Trafford and just wipe off all this season’s hard work by sitting back on the bench. Manchester United know and appreciate this, so for Williams, it is more probable for him to go out on another loan, but Manchester United aren’t ruling out any eventuality.
If a situation were to arise where Williams was wanted by another club and his valuation was met, that is something that would then have to be considered by the player and the club, but Manchester United would probably take that money and reinvest it. But what I will say is, I think Erik ten Hag prefers his players to play on their strong side. I am not sure he will want a right-footed right-back playing at left-back, so there is a lot to work out still.
It is now the job of the representative to take any offers for Williams back to Manchester United to consider, and I am informed that assurances to do so have been made by the club.
Negotiating with clubs is a changing game…
It is all about relationships but the relationships are changing as more and more get taken over by foreign owners.
You cannot just go in and start talking. You really have to do your background research. As an example, when Birmingham City was first taken over by Chinese owners, I went to meet an international banking friend in the city and asked him ‘what is the best way to negotiate with Chinese businesspeople?’ so that I was in a position to understand their mindset when negotiating. It is less the club and more the individual person. Every situation is very different and ultimately, it is about finding mutual respect for each other and appreciating that you’re both just doing your jobs. The end goal is to be able to shake hands and go for a coffee.