Intern, scout, chief scout, and then director of football! Jonas Boldt was once a rising star at Bayern Leverkusen. In 2003, the then 21-year-old young man did an internship at Bayer Leverkusen which would launch a career that saw him reach the very top at the club.
Boldt discovered talents such as Arturo Vidal for the club. His mentor Rudi Völler speaks highly of him, and most people consider him to be a well-connected man with an eye for talented players.
Following the newly published Football Leaks revelations, however, his reputation might take a serious hit. It turns out that Boldt has a close connection to the German player agency Spielerrat (advice for players). Three friends started the agency upon leaving Adidas.
According to themselves, Daniel Delonga, Thorsten Wirth, and Hannes Winzer are the good guys in a dirty business. The three agents state that they offer serious advice and aren’t looking to enrich themselves without concern for their players.
Spielerrat does its best to portray this image in public. When the EIC (a network of newspapers working on the Football Leaks revelations) started publishing its results, the company published a memo welcoming the revelations.
“A smart, dirty move”
Former Arsenal and Germany defender Per Mertesacker was among the first big signings of the agency. Currently, Spielerrat handles the careers of such stars as Kai Havertz and Serge Gnabry, both big names with big futures. And while their agents want the public to believe that they are the good guys, a trail of emails found by Der Spiegel reveals something entirely different.
At first it is Thorsten Wirth who writes about a Bundesliga club’s questionable transfer dealing. The club wanted to sell a striker, but wasn’t happy with the price the other Bundesliga clubs wanted to pay. Instead of agreeing to that lower fee, the player’s agent managed to get a fake offer from a Premier League club.
This offer put a lot of pressure on the side wanting to buy the player. In the end, the team upped its original offer by 2 million Euros. The selling Bundesliga club passed 800,000 Euros directly onto the agent who had managed to secure the fake offer for the player in the first place.
Wirth’s comment on the outcome of that transfer was found in an email in which the agent said it was “a smart, dirty move. No matter what you might think of it from a moral perspective, it worked.”
“Not our style”
When Der Spiegel asked the agency to comment on such business practices, Spielerrat responded that they expressly rejected the business practice. However, the emails between the three agents revealed something different.
At first it was Daniel Delonga who wrote, “I don’t find it completely reprehensible,” adding, “but it’s not our style.”
Turns out that it might be the agency’s style after all. One of their clients is goalkeeper Lukasz Fabianski. After several years of playing second fiddle at Arsenal, the Polish international decided to move to Swansea in 2014. After a good season at the club, Spielerrat saw their chance to make some money of their player.
Thorsten Wirth wrote an email to the other agents claiming, “If the chess move works, we will be able to significantly increase our earnings from Fab.” However, he noticed, “It could turn into a brutal boomerang for all those involved if it becomes public.”
What was the plan? At first, Spielerrat demanded that the keeper’s wages be increased to 50,000 pounds per week from the original 35,000 pounds. In return, Fabianski would agree to the elimination of his 4-million-pound exit clause.
The agency themselves would also get something out of the deal. A one-year contract extension to 2019 would trigger an agency fee of 760,000 pounds for the first season and an annual fee of 480,000 pounds for the last three seasons of the deal. In total, Spielerrat stood to make 2.2 million pounds for improving a contract that had still three years to run.
A Favor from Boldinho
Back in 2015, Fabianski reached the age of 30. The market for such goalkeepers is rather limited. Why would Swansea agree to up the keeper’s wages, lining Spielerrat‘s pockets in the process?
Turns out that the agents had an ace up their sleeves.
On May 28th, the agents plotted their own dirty move. Thorsten Wirth sent Daniel Delonga a draft of what was referred to as “the Boldt email”. The message was written by Wirth and contained an outline of how Bayer Leverkusen’s director of football could approach the agency registering their interest in Lukasz Fabianski. Wirth wrote that Boldt should write, “Should changes develop regarding Leno, then Lukasz — with the form he showed last season and the exit clause outlined — is an absolute top candidate for us.”
It was Wirth’s objective to get Boldt to send an email to him. The interest by Bayer Leverkusen wouldn’t be real, but as long as Boldt signed his name to the prefabricated email the agent had drafted for him, Spielerrat had something they could show Swansea during their negotiations. To make all of this seem more realistic, Wirth told his colleagues that he would reply to Boldt’s email, stating that Spielerrat was exclusively negotiating with the Premier League club at the time.
It was Daniel Delonga who got in touch with Jens Boldt, instructing him, “Hi Boldinho, I want to thank you for your support on Fabianski. Big big THX!!! Please send the following email to Toto (eds: a reference to Wirth), which he will then answer and, if need be, forward on to Swansea. Muchas gracias, dd.”
Upon receiving Boldt’s email, Wirth replied:
“Thank you! I guarantee the utmost confidentiality! I’m going to now send you another pro forma reply.”
The trick paid off in the end. Swansea agreed to Spielerrat‘s terms, and the agents managed to increase their earnings after producing a fake offer.
When Der Spiegel asked Bayer Leverkusen for a response, the club told the magazine that Boldt “never had a financial stake in transfers or contract renewals of the team’s own members or external players.” However, the club didn’t deny that a fake offer for Lukasz Fabianski was made by their director of football.
Managing Director of Sport Rüdi Völler told Der Spiegel that “a number of goalkeepers were being considered as possible candidates to replace Bernd Leno,” before adding, “in a few cases, that was also communicated to agents of the players in question.”
The responded through their lawyers when they were approached by Der Spiegel, stating that Leverkusen had shown real interest in signing Fabianski and that all Spielerrat wanted to accomplish was to reach “clarity” for all parties involved.
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