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In the age of huge money transfers for young players becoming increasingly frequent, opportunities are decreasing for players to breakthrough into their parent clubs first team. More and more players are having to look abroad to gain opportunities for regular football, something that football agent Omid Arbabamin has promoted. 

When speaking to Overtime Online, the SME Global employee spoke about how hard some of his players have found breaking into their clubs first teams in this new modern competitive market. Arbabamin told me: “First question I always ask a player is what do you want? Are you tough enough and have the right drive to go forward in what you’re doing? To make it as a pro you’ve got to be obsessed with the sport and have the hunger to get to where you want to be.

“I always tell the players if you’re not playing there will always be someone who comes along to take your position. Players that age aren’t after big money, they want the game time.” 

Academies such as Southampton are famous for producing home grown talent who move on to bigger and better things. Players such as Gareth Bale, Theo Walcott and Alan Shearer are all graduates of the Southampton academy. 

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Premier League academies are so prolific, with so many new young players coming through the ranks at every club. But the fact is that 97% of young players won’t get a contract at their club. This shows just how many young players there are coming up through the ranks at youth level dreaming of being in that 3%. 

Football agents are the ones tasked to find the players game time, without game time there is no hope for the player being able to grow and succeed like they dreamt about as a child. Football agents have to look for teams where they know their player will get game time, where they know there won’t be severe competition for places and where their player has the biggest chance to grow.

Arbabamin spoke about how hard it is for players to play the style of football that they want to in the lower English divisions, meaning they can’t grow and develop how their parent Premier League clubs would like them to. Telling Overtime: “19 is the main age where players need to start considering their future, if they are stuck in the Premier League Two playing for their clubs Under-23s then they need to start looking elsewhere.

“The Premier League Two just isn’t competitive enough for them, they need to make the move to get a challenge and to develop. When players move to leagues below such as League One or League Two the style of football played isn’t technical enough. They play long ball football and players aren’t given the chance to develop the technical skills they learnt in their academy days.

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“That’s why players are moving abroad now to places such as the Bundesliga or the Eredivisie or the Austrian first division. These divisions have much more competitive football and they play on the ground, giving young players the chance to develop.”

Players such as Jadon Sancho, Reiss Nelson and Reece Oxford are all young English players who played for Premier League sides but could not break into the first team squads. So, all three turned their attention elsewhere for new opportunities, seeking pastures new in the German Bundesliga.

These young men knew they could get first team football in the Bundesliga for their respective teams which would only benefit their careers. The three have succeeded with their German clubs and have started to make a real name for themselves over-seas, already being linked with major moves back to the Premier League.

But the process of securing a viable deal isn’t as simple as just picking a team abroad and moving there. Agents have to consider different variables such as how much playing time their client will get at their new club, otherwise a move will prove to be a waste of time. 

Arbabamin spoke about the process of securing the loan deal and choosing the best club for his players, saying: “When we go to the next club, we look at their current squad and who’s playing and their contracts, we look to see what players are at the club playing in our client’s position and whether they’ll be second to them or straight into the first team.

“If the first team starter at that club has their contract expiring soon, we look at that as a good option for my young player to go in and take his place in the first team. A lot of the time we will go in behind the first team starter and my young player will have to spend a season on the bench playing half the games, but the season after will get their chance in the first team if the starter had performed well and moved on.”

A footballer’s career span is short lived, and they need every opportunity to form the career that they wanted. The early years are the most important and they need the game time to ensure their development so that they can grow into the superstar that they are destined to be. More and more we are seeing the growing trend of young players moving abroad to find the playing time that they need, and their agents are clearly behind this movement, doing whatever they can to see their client’s success.  

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June 2024