Sunday, September 23, 2007

Agent: Lee Chun-Soo Will Be Feyenoord Success

Agent: Lee Chun-Soo Will Be Feyenoord Success.
Dennis Murray is head of GSEN Europe, an agency that specialises in helping South Korean players move to Europe. Murray is the man who negotiated Lee Chun-soo's recent transfer to Feyenoord and he found time for a quick chat regarding the transfer.

Tell us about GSEN.

GSEN Korea is managed by Kim Dong-guk and looks after players like Lee Young-pyo, Seol Ki-hyeon and a few other players.

In the Netherlands, Lee Young- pyo's manager and I discussed about me doing business for GSEN. I started the European headquarters in order to help put Korean players in European clubs.

GSEN only deals with Korean players?

GSEN Europe only deals with Korean players, GSEN Korea is looking at foreign players.

Why do you think European clubs are interested in Korean players?

It is not specifically Korean players that they are interested in but good players. It’s not a matter of attracting a Korean player but attracting a good player that happens to be Korean.

How does the process work?

Basically we know about every European club – what positions they need etc. Prior to the beginning of the transfer window, you can see a lot of agents, including us, start faxing CVs and sending DVD’s to clubs, trying to pitch their player for that specific position. The scouts and the technical staff will then take a look at the most promising players.

Once they are interested, then they will enquire to the club or watch a few live games of the player to get a sense of what he is like in a real situation and not just on screen. When they like it, they will put him on a shortlist and for every position that they need, the club will have a few players in mind. They will start with player one and if player one is not an option then they will move down the list until they reach somebody they can get.

SO GSEN has a pool of players in Korea that it can recommend to European teams?

Exactly. We have players with our agency but sometimes a club will say to us that ‘we have a player that wants to move, we want you to represent us a club as the player moves.

That’s what happened with Lee Chun-soo?

Yes. Ulsan (Lee's K-League club) gave us the mandate. I was asked by GSEN Korea to look in the Netherlands. I had three options. Feyenoord was the first option and a direct hit.

What about the other two clubs?

I looked at a suitable club for him and only three qualified. Feyenoord, AZ and Ajax. Feyenoord was the best option since he gets to play in a good team with good players (like Giovanni van Bronkhorst, Roy Makaay) and work with a great coach (Bert van Marwijk.)

He should fit in just fine. Also his success later on in the EPL will be guaranteed since the Dutch League is the perfect stepping stone for Korean players when adjusting.


Why didn’t Lee move directly to England?

At the time when I received his CV the question was can you search for a good European club? I knew there were genuine offers from EPL clubs but I strongly suggested that he should consider moving to a Dutch club first.

The reason and only reason is to do away with the reports of him moving to the EPL on the back of Korean sponsorship deals. He is a very gifted and skilled player who doesn't need piggy back rides like that. That's why a move to the Dutch League instead of the EPL would come as a surprise and will show his credibility as a player. That shows his character.

There was interest from England?

It was not that he refused to go to a EPL club. The idea was if a club is first and most concrete about the permanent transfer offer that he would choose to go to that club. At first his focus was only EPL clubs.

Fulham, Chelsea, Wigan, Portsmouth and West Ham United. Fulham made a concrete loan offer but only a permanent transfer was sought after by both Ulsan and Lee.

I knew I could arrange the permanent transfer for him at the mentioned Dutch clubs so I suggested to take them in account as well. Especially since it will not be tainted with sponsorship linking.

Don't get me wrong though, the EPL is still his main and firm goal. So after three good years at Feyenoord you might see that move happen. If Feyenoord wants to sell him earlier, then it will happen sooner of course.

How easy were the negotations with Feyenoord?

It was not easy. Once I got involved, the negotations took only 15 minutes but it was not easy. Once agents know that a club is interested in a certain player they will try to bypass you and say that they are the player's representatives.

That has been Lee’s problem in the past hasn’t it? He’s been close to a move but his many agents make it complex.

Exactly. At the time, I was waiting for Feyenoord to come back to me because we had pitched Lee at the end of May, early June. We had some phone conversations and then we had to wait for Feyenoord because the club had other options.

All of a sudden, we learned that Feyenoord was dealing already.

Dealing with Ulsan?

That’s the question! It was an agent who claimed to be representing the club which was not possible because we had the mandate from the club. Feyenoord thought that it was over because Ulsan didn’t want to talk any more.

I got the call that Feyenoord was dealing but the deal (a loan deal) fell through. I called the club’s technical director and asked him what was going on. He replied that ‘we have a problem, we really want this player.’ I said OK, I gave him all the terms that I had agreed with Ulsan and the player through GSEN Korea.

It took only 15 minutes for Feyenoord to say yes and then we told Ulsan and Ulsan were also very quick to say yes. From then, it was up to Lee’s manager to go with the personal terms that I had negoitiated for the player and they also agreed,

This was like hours before the deadline and Lee still needed a medical. We arranged a medical in Seoul (because flying to Amsterdam was not possible at that time), Feyenoord really wanted him so they said OK and they appointed a doctor. It was done. It was not a textbook deal!

Sounds quick but difficult!

Yes. The difficulty always comes when other agents come forward and say they are representing the player.

Is it common to have multiple agents?

It is not just limited to Korea. It happens all over the world –in South America, in England even. You probably hear stories of players signing two or three contracts because they are represented by different agents.

Why do players do this?

The younger players are easily influenced by dubious agents. They say ‘I can get you this and this at a great club, just sign here.’ And they sign. The next day another agent comes and he has an even better offer and they sign.


Will Lee Chun-soo be a success?

I know he can be. He needs to look at the communication. He needs to be able to communicate with his coach and his team. I understand that will not be a problem. He will be helped in the Netherlands with anything he needs.

He will be the biggest Korean success in the Netherlands and after that I can help him move to the EPL.

I am happy that he is here and can play here. He is a very good player.

How about Park Chu-young?

For Park Chu-young there was and still is interest in Europe. Problem was that he was not a very physical player. But seeing him now after recovery from his injury I don't think that will be regarded as any issue anymore. He is more bulky looking at the moment so physical play should not be a problem.

Copyright: John Duerden & Soccerphile.com

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