Julien Faubert in Madrid: the surrealist transfer story inspiring a television drama | Soccer


TThere were only two days left in the January 2009 transfer window when Yvan Le Mée answered his phone. At the other end of the line, a Real Madrid representative asked if it would be possible to lend his client Julien Faubert to West Ham for the rest of the season.

Le Mée, already a veteran of what is called in Europe the “transfer window“Having started as an agent representing Gaël Clichy from Arsenal, he could hardly believe what he was hearing. Faubert, crowned once by France in 2006, was an injury-prone winger who had only made eight appearances for West Ham since arriving from Bordeaux in 2007 and was not the type of player who usually attracted attention from one of the most famous clubs in Europe.

“I called a friend in Spain,” says Le Mée, recounting the story of one of the most infamous transfers of all time. “I said,” Look, someone from Real Madrid called me about Faubert. It’s so strange. He called the sport director to check and called me back. “Yvan, that’s right. They want to see you at 7:00 am tomorrow at Heathrow Airport. »»

Even Faubert could not believe it, having also received a call from a man claiming to represent the Spanish club while he was on the team bus before a match against Fulham. “I told him that I had to prepare for an important game and that I did not have time for this shit,” he said in an interview with Athletic in March. “I turned off my phone. “

“He thought it was a joke,” added Le Mée, giggling. ” But the transfer window can be crazy sometimes. “

The next morning, they arrived at Heathrow to start negotiations, but were told that the transfer was now in the balance. “Real Madrid wanted to sign Antonio Valencia, but Wigan wanted £ 25 million, which is equivalent to £ 80 million in today’s market,” said Le Mée. “The second option was Faubert, the choice of manager. Juande Ramos was at Tottenham the previous year and Julien played two fantastic games against them for West Ham. That’s why he was so lucky – sometimes miracles can happen. “

Julien Faubert, after his return to West Ham, fights with Adam Lallana.

Julien Faubert, after his return to West Ham, fights with Adam Lallana. Photography: Dominic Lipinski / PA

When negotiations with Wigan failed, Faubert’s dream was back. “At that time, I started negotiating with West Ham,” says Le Mée. “At the time, it was CEO Scott Duxbury and sports director Gianluca Nani who were in charge of transfers and they were very tough negotiators. They wanted a lot of money because it was Real Madrid, even though he didn’t play a lot at the time, but we managed to make the deal. For a few weeks, everyone called me David Copperfield because they couldn’t believe it had happened. “

West Ham ultimately received £ 1.5 million for the loan, as Madrid also included an option to sign Faubert on a three-year contract, although that never materialized. The Frenchman has only made two appearances in Spain, making the headlines for missing training after mistakenly thinking he had a day off and being accused of falling asleep on the bench against Villarreal – he then admitted to closing his eyes for a fraction of a second because he was “bored”. .

Faubert returned to West Ham and spent three more years there before being released. Le Mée has since represented Mario Lemina and Sofiane Boufal during their moves to Southampton, negotiated the transfer of Ferland Mendy from Lyon to Real Madrid for £ 43 million in 2019 and is working on a television series called Mercato inspired by his transfer experiences like that of Faubert.

Yvan Le Mée, second from right, during the presentation of Ferland Mendy by Real Madrid in 2019.

Yvan Le Mée, second on the right, during the presentation of Ferland Mendy by Real Madrid in 2019. Photo: without credit

With the contribution of former Marseille president Jean-Michel Roussier, journalist Messaoud Benterki and Romain Alessandrini – a former teammate of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at LA Galaxy – the fictional series focuses on the life of an agent, Vincent Berman, and his efforts to help him. client, Argentinian striker Ruben Maltelli, wins the Ballon d’Or with a blow of 300 million euros from Juventus.

“The main story is that of a young agent who becomes the biggest in the world,” says Le Mée. “The idea was to mix all the operators on the market to give it authenticity. It’s not autobiographical but more or less it’s based on my life. “

Starring Italian actor Salvatore Esposito, who played Genny in the crime drama Gomorra, three series with 10 episodes have been written and Le Mée is negotiating with several broadcasters to start filming.

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“Salvatore is a big football fan and I wanted someone who could speak and act like an agent. It’s a crazy industry filled with adrenaline and I want people to see what reality looks like. We also plan to have guest stars playing themselves. For example, when the agents go to Juventus to discuss a transfer, may the president be Andrea Agnelli or the sport director be Fabio Paratici?

“I know a lot of people in football and I hope it will not be difficult to convince real players, agents and sports managers to make an appearance. Everyone wants to be in the movies after all. “


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