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Ashworth has recently returned to club soccer after six years with England’s national federation.His club hired a new coach, Graham Potter, at the start of the season, and that’s likely to mean more changes than usual as Brighton tries to build a squad matching Potter’s preferences.Inside the cloistered, carpeted Centenary Lounge, executives were getting down to the serious business of negotiating player trades as the summer transfer window, an annual multibillion-dollar marketplace, reaches its climactic rush to fill rosters or find new or temporary homes for unwanted or untested talent before the window slams shut in a matter of weeks.With tables numbered and organized in rows, executives wielding brochures and tablets showed off their inventory in short introductory meetings that ended with the sound of a bell and the appearance of two women armed with boxing-style cards announcing the start of the next round of talks.While the executives ranged in seniority and function, they were all club employees.They shared a mutual frustration, bordering on antipathy, for another critical cog in the wheels of the soccer market: agents.“If you can progress talks with the two clubs then you’re in a stronger position than an agent trying to broker deals, getting in this, getting that,” said Tony Coton, head of recruitment at Sunderland, a third-tier English team that was previously in the Premier League but was demoted twice.“Here I will hear it from the horse’s mouth now,” he continued, “exactly how much the player’s earning at that club and I can say, ‘Yes we can go to that,’ or ‘No we can’t go to that,’ without the agent getting involved because invariably the agent will inflate what he’s on to try and increase his wages and for a loan I don’t think that’s right.”Coton, a former goalkeeper for Manchester City, was in town like Harford to pick up a few loan players and to try to find buyers for two players from Sunderland’s Premier League days whose wages the club can no longer afford to finance.
The idea was to wean clubs off the largely inefficient and long-held practice of sourcing and selling players via the closely guarded networks of agents or intermediaries, some who can take a multimillion-dollar cut in the biggest deals.“I wanted to give the clubs a chance to take back control of the transfer market,” Ankersen said as snippets of negotiations started to fill the air following a break for lunch.
Juventus is also known to send more players out on loan than almost any other rival in European soccer.
They were joined by a dozen other Premier League clubs and a bevy of others from across soccer’s global pyramid, including Internacional, a stalwart of Brazil’s top league, known for creating the type of talent suited to European soccer.
Club-to-club meetings on a global scale like the one held in London remain uncommon.
The scarcity is related to the baked-in paranoia of the soccer world, where clubs eye rivals’ motivations with great suspicion.“If you stick a for sale sign up, you can weaken your stance in the market,” said Dan Ashworth, director of football at Brighton, a small club that will compete in the Premier League for the third straight season.