Pitchside Europe

Players get dream moves after football ‘X-Factor’ ends

While the great and the good of world football are touted to Premier League clubs by agents, many professional players are desperately looking to make a living from the game.

And one Argentine footballer got his dream transfer to Spain after winning an online talent competition headed by the agent who brought Lionel Messi to La Liga.

Jordi Pascual, a 19-year-old target man who has scored more than a goal a game in Argentina’s lower divisions, was looking for a club when he signed up with the Minguella Challenge.

Super-agent Josep Maria Minguella – who took Messi to Barcelona and has represented Diego Maradona, Romario, Rivaldo and Pep Guardiola – cast his eye over 5,000 out-of-work players who applied through the football networking site Fieldoo, which has been described as a 'Football Facebook'.

The two lucky winners were then handed trials with Segunda Division side Girona.

Pascual, who came through Boca Juniors’ youth system but has a Spanish passport through his grandparents, was joined by Slovenia U21 defender Denis Kramar as they sought their shot at the big time.

Pascual made the cut at Girona.

“I’m happy that the club, Minguella and his team trusted in me”, he said after signing for the club.

“Now I have to give my best in training and matches and keep following my dreams. I’m not expecting anything, I have to do well.”

“We’d been fighting for a chance for Jordi to go (to Spain)”, Pascual’s father added.

While Kramar did not sign for Girona, he too was rewarded with a professional contract in Spain, with scouts from Getafe sufficiently impressed to offer him an 18-month contract to play for their B-team.

While professional players in the top leagues are renowned enough to be offered contracts through reputation alone, most footballers do not have international profiles. They rarely if ever appear on television, and earn hundreds of pounds a week as opposed to the big money most people associate with the game.

Rewards are high at the upper end, but opportunities can be hard to come by for players who have not been developed by Europe’s big clubs – most footballers do not have their own agents, and getting a trial can even be difficult for someone who has played in their country’s top division.

This is where Fieldoo steps in. It is a social and professional networking site for footballers looking for work, allowing players to list their career achievements, stats and attributes as they hunt for their next club.

[PASCUAL'S 'FOOTBALL FACEBOOK' PROFILE]

This is particularly useful in the somewhat transient EU employment market, allowing European players with top-flight experience in smaller leagues to get a trial or short-term deal in a more established nation.

While it is unlikely that Messi, Ronaldo or any player in one of Europe's top leagues would need to use such a system, it is ideal for the likes of Kramar and South American players with European grandparents - such as Pascual.

It could well take off in Britain too, where the lower divisions - and Scotland's top flight - are rife with clubs on the brink of financial disaster, and players could well look abroad for their next career move.