Vlado Lemić

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Vladica "Vlado" Lemić (born 1966 in Zagreb, SR Croatia, SFR Yugoslavia) is a Serbian former footballer and current football agent.

Following a modest career as a professional footballer, Lemić became a top player agent - a calling where he's achieved significant prominence, presiding over and being an integral part of many high-profile transfers. Furthermore, due to his personal and business ties to many powerful figures in European club football, Lemić has established himself as an important behind-the-scenes figure in the sport.

Club career[edit]

Lemić spent most of his playing career with Borac Banja Luka, which at the time toiled in the second-tier Yugoslav Second League. Otherwise mostly mediocre and unremarkable, his time at the club did feature one shining moment - being part of the 1988 Yugoslav Cup winning team. The famous final on 11 May 1988 at Belgrade's Marakana pitted the heavy underdog Banja Luka side against powerhouse Red Star Belgrade. Sensationally, Borac ended up winning 0-1, the first and only time Yugoslav Cup was won by a team outside of the top-tier First League. Lemić only appeared in the closing 2 minutes of the match plus injury time as head coach Husnija Fazlić brought him on for goalscorer Senad Lupić.

Due to exposure from the Cup win, he got transferred to Belgian lower league club KFC Herentals.

Later, Lemić played a season for Lierse S.K. in Belgian top league where he played under head coach Eric Gerets.

Football agent[edit]

PSV connection[edit]

Lemić's first transfer of note was 21-year-old Mateja Kežman's move from FK Partizan to PSV Eindhoven under head coach Eric Gerets during the summer of 2000. The young striker with plenty of positive notices from the FR Yugoslavia's First League commanded a major price tag as the Dutch club was said to have paid DM27 million for his services. The forward would go to become a scoring hit at Eindhoven, while for the agent this marked the beginning of a long and eventually somewhat controversial business relationship with PSV.

Through his close relationship with PSV technical director Stan Valckx, Lemić became an influential figure inside the club despite not officially being part of the organization. Through Lemić's network of connections (his South America-based brother Zoran is also a football agent), the club was able to get their hands on many acquisitions from that part of the world, the most famous of which were Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes, Peruvian winger Jefferson Farfán, and talented young striker Jonathan Reis. Additionally, Lemić engineered an agreement between Chelsea and PSV for Chelsea signings to be sent to PSV in co-sharing or loan deals until they're eligible for a British work permit.[1] Defenders Alex, Alcides, and Slobodan Rajković arrived to the club in this manner. Lemić's style at PSV was very hands-on as he could be regularly seen with players at the club's training complex De Herdgang. He also kept close contact with club head coaches in this period: first Guus Hiddink followed by Ronald Koeman, and additionally fostered contacts with Chelsea organization through Piet de Visser and Frank Arnesen, which allowed him to become close with club's owner Roman Abramovich.[2]

Despite PSV having had plenty of success on the pitch as well as maintaining healthy cash flow on the financial side of things all throughout this period, Lemić's undefined role and large influence in Eindhoven came under scrutiny of the newly arrived general manager Jan Reker. Though the two never got on from day one, the initial trigger for their feud seems to have been the issue over PSV's Ecuadorian midfielder and Lemić's client Édison Méndez who in December 2007 requested a transfer out of the club, reportedly wishing to be home in Ecuador closer to his ill mother. The club unwillingly obliged, setting a relatively low transfer fee of US$1 million when Barcelona Sporting Club expressed interest. However, the fee was still too high for the Ecuadorian club and the deal fell through. One month later in January 2008, an offer from a Mexican club willing to pay the million for Méndez came in, however, Reker killed it by informing them that million dollars was a 'friendly fee' for Ecuadorian clubs while the Mexicans would have to pay a higher one. Méndez's agent Lemić didn't like this and the situation exploded on 30 January after PSV's league win over Ajax.[3]

Though things quickly appeared to have settled on surface, the situation festered behind the scenes for months as Lemić's role in the club began to be publicly questioned courtesy of leaked information to the press by the Reker camp. Lemić didn't hold back either as his client Heurelho Gomes' stinging attack on Reker in a Voetbal International interview was largely seen to be the agent's revenge by proxy. With all the turmoil PSV still managed to win the 2007-08 Dutch league title, but by summer 2008, the agent and the general manager were engaged in a full blown public war. Many things that normally happen behind closed doors were now all out in the open as Reker moved to rid the club of any Lemić influence. Influenced by Reker, the club alleged that Lemić and Valckx pocketed profits from their deals for PSV. When a transfer was made at the club, Lemić would allegedly send a hefty bill to the PSV office, even when no one was aware of his involvement. He reportedly claimed services rendered like 'cooling off the interest of club X in player Y' to keep transfer prices down or making a supposed bid by a foreign club for a PSV-player fade away. Meanwhile Valckx earned five per cent of every outgoing transfer at the club according to findings from an investigation by NRC Handelsblad reporters. Though no wrongdoing was ever proven, Lemić got banned from the club's training ground while Valckx got fired. Appalled by the situation, scout Piet de Visser left of his own accord.

Reker thus decisively won the war for the control of PSV, however, in eliminating Lemić he also eliminated the agent's vast network of contacts. Additionally, in direct response to Lemić's ban, his players Gomes, Farfan, Alcides, and Rajković left the club shortly. Since 2008, PSV has largely struggled on and off the pitch - the club hasn't won a league title since then, it has played in the Champions League since getting eliminated by Christmas in the 2008-09 season after finishing dead last in its group and has even felt the pinch financially in recent seasons.

Other dealings[edit]

Over the years, Lemić developed a business relationship with Real Madrid football director Predrag Mijatović and was instrumental in the 14 million transfer of Royston Drenthe from Feyenoord to Real in August 2007 as well as in the €27 million transfer that saw Klaas-Jan Huntelaar go from Ajax to Madrid in January 2009.

In May 2008, Lemić's services were enlisted by Chelsea's Roman Abramovich in its search for the new manager following the dismissal of Avram Grant. Lemić was said to have played an important role in setting up contacts with AC Milan's Carlo Ancelotti and AS Roma's Luciano Spalletti,[4] however the job ultimately went to Luiz Felipe Scolari.

After getting banned from PSV, Lemić intensified his dealings with Chelsea's sporting director Arnesen, going on scouting trips with him[5] as well as with Mijatović who went back to being a football agent after getting fired from Real following the club's presidential change. After Arnesen left Chelsea organization to go to Hamburger SV, Mijatović got short-listed for the job at Stamford Bridge in large part thanks to Lemić's connections, however the job eventually went to Michael Emenalo. In August 2011, Lemić and Mijatović took part in the negotiations that eventually resulted in Samuel Eto'o transferring from Inter to Anzhi Makhachkala.[6]

The following summer, 2012, Lemić had another busy and successful transfer window. He was reportedly one of the most important behind-the-scenes players in the months-long transfer saga of Luka Modrić from Tottenham to Real Madrid.[7] Friendship and business relationship with Mijatović, former Real ace, again proved a winning combination as the duo had access to individuals from the Real backroom staff, including head coach José Mourinho via his powerful agent Jorge Mendes.[8]

Over the same summer, Lemić didn't neglect his other close business contacts such as Frank Arnesen at Hamburger SV. The agent was involved in a deal that sent Croatian midfielder Milan Badelj from Dinamo Zagreb to Hamburg for a transfer fee of around £3 million. The deal aroused controversy when Badelj's primary agent Dejan Joksimović came out with the claim that Hamburg's football director Arnesen overpaid the transfer due to insisting on including Lemić as a second player agent in the deal. As a result of Joksimović's claims, FIFA announced a possible investigation into Badelj's transfer to determine if any wrongdoing occurred.[9]

Deals brokered[edit]

Over the years Lemić has been involved in many top transfers in various capacity:

Date Player Previous club New club Transfer sum
Summer of 2000 Mateja Kežman FK Partizan PSV Eindhoven DM27 million
Summer of 2004 Jefferson Farfán Alianza Lima PSV Eindhoven €2 million
Summer of 2004 Heurelho Gomes Cruzeiro EC PSV Eindhoven unknown
Summer of 2004 Alex Rodrigo Dias da Costa Santos FC PSV Eindhoven co-ownership deal with Chelsea F.C. with a €1 million buyout clause
Summer of 2004 Arjen Robben PSV Eindhoven Chelsea FC £12.1 million
Summer of 2004 Mateja Kežman PSV Eindhoven Chelsea FC £5.4 million
Summer of 2007 Jonathan Reis Atlético Mineiro PSV Eindhoven unknown
Summer of 2007 Royston Drenthe Feyenoord Real Madrid €14 million
January 2008 Branislav Ivanović Lokomotiv Moskva Chelsea F.C. £9.7 million
Summer of 2008 Heurelho Gomes PSV Eindhoven Tottenham Hotspur £7.8 million
Summer of 2008 Miralem Sulejmani SC Heerenveen Ajax €16.25 million
January 2009 Klaas-Jan Huntelaar Ajax Real Madrid €27 million
Summer of 2011 Samuel Eto'o Internazionale Anzhi Makhachkala €28 million
Summer of 2012 Milan Badelj Dinamo Zagreb Hamburger SV €3.5 million
Summer of 2012 Luka Modrić Tottenham Hotspur Real Madrid £33 million