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Ashley Cole's agent reflects on left back's controversial transfer from Arsenal to Chelsea

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Ah, the good old days of tapping-up scandals.

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Football agents, necessary evil or unnecessary evil?  If you ask Jonathan Barnett, the question really should read, footballers' best friends or incompetent fools who give everyone else a bad name.  There's a fascinating interview with the self-appointed best agent in the world in The Guardian that you should read.

Barnett's name may not be the first to pop up when Chelsea fans talk about football agents — that honor surely belongs to Jorge Mendes at the moment — but we might remember him still from the whole Ashley Cole tapping-up scandal.  He was, after all, the main culprit (or the fall guy, depending on your reading of the situation) and, after a couple appeals, was banned for four months (with a further eight months suspended).

"I think I made mistakes. But I also think I was harshly treated. I was made a scapegoat, because it goes on all the time."

He was just a new agent on the block back then, just about 10 years into his self-made career, and mistakes were made.  At least he seems to have learned (to be better, and to hide his tracks better).  Perhaps that is partly why he wants proper training and certification for all new agents now (and no family!).  He's probably not wrong.

Incidentally, Barnett claims to be an Arsenal fan, but apparently is professional enough on the job that he's willing to bend the rules to get what's best for his client.  A nice advertisement for his and his company's services, this.  Although if they are truly the biggest in the world, as he claims, then he probably doesn't need anything other than word of mouth from clients.

"Also, if Arsenal hadn't gone back on their word, Ashley would have stayed 100% and that would never have happened. I'm not justifying it, but explaining it. But it was probably the best thing that ever happened to Ashley Cole. Arsenal won nothing, he won everything and financially he was much better off. My job as an agent was done."

Barnett goes on to stress that he's not looking to make friends with his clients, though it's quite obvious that he values Gareth Bale first among equals.  Smart business decision, no doubt.

In any case, that's the Chelsea-specific part of the interview, but reading the rest is worth your time as well.  Barnett and his unsurprisingly massive ego do have some good ideas, especially as far as educating the public, the authorities, and the players about the roles of agents in the modern game goes.

Meanwhile, as far as Ashley Cole himself's concerned, he's apparently still on Roma's books despite rumors of agreeing to a mutual termination, though he hasn't played since the start of pre-season and is now apparently quite intent on seeing out his contract.  (It's got a bit of a Florent Malouda's last season at Chelsea feel to it.)  He did get a new tattoo recently.  "Time don't wait 4 no one." Indeed.