Amiens: Sale of Ilenikhena, 16, made possible by TransferRoom
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Amiens: Sale of Ilenikhena, 16, made possible by TransferRoom
by Jack Hyom

Amiens SC's Sporting Director, John Williams, explains how the deal, worth half of the Ligue 2 club's budget was revived by TransferRoom Summit talks with Royal Antwerp FC.

To sell a player at €6.5m covers half our budget. It’s really important for a second division club. Things nearly collapsed. But then we had a meeting at the TransferRoom Summit with the Scout from Antwerp.
John Williams
Sporting Director, Amiens SC

Deal was unlikely before TransferRoom Summit

 

When French club Amiens SC sold 16-year-old striker George Ilenikhena in the 2023 Summer Transfer Window to Belgian champions Royal Antwerp, it was for a fee worth almost half their annual budget.


And the transfer for the Ligue 2 club’s young talent, for €6.5m plus bonuses, was done with the help of TransferRoom.

 

The Ligue 2 side took advantage of a “speed-dating”-style meeting at London’s TransferRoom Summit in March 2023 to push the deal forward with Belgian club Royal Antwerp.

 

And just weeks later Amiens completed a landmark transfer for their academy product.

 

The deal quickly gained returns for the buying club too, with Ilenikhena hitting the ground running with nine goals from 510 minutes and just three starts in the first half of the season for Antwerp, including a winner against FC Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League.

 

John Williams, Sporting Director at Amiens, said in the video below: “In transfer market history, I think he is one of the top 10 youngest players to be sold for that price.

 

“To sell a player at €6.5m covers half our budget. It’s really important for a second division club.”

 

 

The Ilenikhena deal was in danger of falling apart until Amiens and Antwerp had face-to-face talks at Chelsea FC’s Stamford Bridge during the TransferRoom Summit.

 

Staff from more than 300 clubs around the world attended and held a series of 15-minute meetings with their counterparts to discuss potential transfers.

 

Williams said: “Things nearly collapsed. But then we had a meeting at the TransferRoom Summit with the Scout from Antwerp.

 

“We said, ‘If you want to make it [the deal], you have to do this, this and this’.

 

“It was really efficient and really clear. He said, ‘OK, let me come back to you’.

 

“And two or three weeks later I had a call and we found a deal to make happen.

 

“It was really useful to speak directly face to face, not by phone or by email.

 

“Because it’s only 15 minutes you have to be straightforward. There’s no question of wasting time.

 

“The deal came back on track.”

 

From the deal, Amiens have gained not only a significant sum of money but also a reputation for being able to develop young players quickly so they are ready for new challenges at a higher level.

 

Williams explained: “I had a chat with the agent of one of the young players from our squad.

 

“He has other clubs trying to sign his player.

 

“I said, ‘Just leave your player for six months or a year at Amiens and after that we will sell him.

 

“We proved it with him [Ilenikhena] and with Kassoum Ouatarra (aged 19 at the time), whom we sold to AS Monaco.

 

“We showed that with a young player without any big experience, we can sell him in a short time, which is good for the player and good for the agent.

 

“We work with confidence between agent, player and club in a short-term period.

 

“We have a common interest, so it’s perfect for all of us.”

 

Amiens also used TransferRoom to make a big international signing, bringing in former Newcastle United, Liverpool, West Ham United and England striker Andy Carroll. Watch Williams explain how it happened.

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