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Saturday 3 December 2016

Paul Hyland: Grealish agent is stirring the pot for Jack

Super agent Jonathan Barnett wanted Bale to play for England

Jack Grealish now has a decision to make on whether to play for Ireland or Roy Hodgson and his England side
Jack Grealish now has a decision to make on whether to play for Ireland or Roy Hodgson and his England side

If there is anyone out there who didn’t find a great deal of common sense in what Roy Hodgson had to say about Jack Grealish and his agent, Jonathan Barnett has fixed that nicely.

Head of the Stellar talent agency and no doubt, an extremely wealthy man, Barnett in a few short sentences explained why a very long and strong bargepole should be in play when you’re dealing with agents.

You’ll probably have read his comments by now but if not, this is what he had to say at Soccerex in Manchester, a big football industry gathering where lads who never played talk about making enormous amounts of cash from those who do.

He is talking about his first meeting with Gareth Bale who he represents. Stellar look after Grealish.

“When we first got together when he was 15, we talked about whether he was going to play for England or Wales. I nearly got my head bitten off by his dad, who is fanatically Welsh, and his mum,” said Barnett.

“He could have qualified through his grandmother and I tell you that it has cost him millions and millions of pounds. You can imagine what it would have been like if he were playing for England next summer in the Euros... but he does love playing for Wales.”

How strange that a Welshman would want his son to play for Wales?

Hodgson could not understand why Stellar would be involved in a decision over nationality and said thanks, but no thanks when the Grealish family suggested that a representative would  be included in the deputation to see him.

Oddly enough, Martin O‘Neill doesn’t seem to mind the influence of agents. He showed a more sanguine approach to modern football when he sat down with Grealish, his father Kevin and a Stellar representative.

He was asked about Grealish after the win over Georgia and specifically about Hodgson’s reticence when it came to meeting an agent as part of the process.

Was the agent a nuisance?

“No, I don’t think that at all. I genuinely didn’t get that impression at all. I felt at the meeting I had that it was a decision that both Jack and his father would take into consideration and make their minds up. I don’t know what Roy has said but I don’t think that has anything to do with it,” said O’Neill.

It is difficult for anyone who would like to see Grealish in an Ireland shirt to be too pompous about Barnett who felt that a slender connection with England was good enough to print money.

We have a similar grip on Jack Grealish although it would seem that he is not as committed to his birthplace as Bale was to Wales.

But we now have an insight into the advice he’s been getting and is it any wonder that he’s struggling to decide?

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