Football super agents: Biggest Raiola and Mendes clients
Football super agents
Given the success of Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD TV show and Avengers films, ensemble casts of all the talents are certainly prevalent in popular culture nowadays.
Look closely at modern football, and two so-called super agents can call upon deep rosters of match-winners and difference makers. If only their star players could have an epic battle!
Mino Raiola was born in the Campania town of Nocera Inferiore, 20km outside of Naples. Relocating from the slopes of Monte Albino to the Netherlands, he worked in his family’s Italian restaurant in Haarlem and went to law school before starting his own sports agency up.
Dennis Bergkamp’s ill-fated move to Inter Milan (1993) and Pavel Nedved’s decidedly more successful switch to Lazio (1996) were among Raiola’s first mega deals.
Jorge Mendes, meanwhile, grew up among the lights of Lisbon, the Portuguese capital.
His own hopes of making it as a pro footballer were ended by rejections by some of that country’s lesser known clubs, Mendes’ route to becoming a super agent took in video rentals, work as a DJ, and in bars and owning a Caminha nightclub.
Current Porto boss Nuno Espirito Santo happened upon Mendes in such a setting, and he fixed the former goalie’s transfer to Deportivo La Coruna (also 1996) as well as midfielder Hugo Viana signing for Newcastle United from Sporting Lisbon (2002).
Most of the Portugal team from the last generation seemed to have Mendes as their agent, with Deco and Simao Sabrosa among those represented by their compatriot. Manager Jose Mourinho is also a client, but we’re sticking to players here.
Paul Pogba’s £89m world-record switch from Juventus to Manchester United saw his representative Raiola play a key role in proceedings, and no doubt pocketed a handsome personal fee for his part in negotiations.
However, the Frenchman has started life back in the Premier League with difficulty, with his recent performances coming under the spotlight.
Raiola has since spoken out and defended his man, stating: “It’s true Pogba is not playing his best yet, he is taking time to adjust, but people don’t always see the bigger picture. He will dominate for 10 years. He is United’s lost son.”
So, in light of the agent’s comments on one of his most his prized assets Pogba and others, Coral’s experts have picked out a magnificent seven apiece to hold either Raiola or Mendes as their advocate.
Representing Ronaldo since he was 17, Mendes has one of the most recognisable and marketable brands in world football with the Real Madrid superstar. The Portugal icon’s switch to the Bernabeu for a then world record £80m will have seen his agent get a tasty slice of the transfer.
If Ronaldo is Mendes’ hottest client, then Raiola’s main star is undoubtedly £89m man Pogba. Poster boy of Euro 2016 (a tournament at which he only really showed glimpses of his sparkling midfield dynamism), the France engine room operator joined others from his agent’s stable at Manchester United.
Angel Di Maria
Like Ronaldo and Pogba, Argentina attacker Di Maria was also once on the books at Old Trafford, having made a British record transfer of £59.7m in 2014. It’s one of three big money moves during his career which Mendes has masterminded; the others being from Benfica to the Bernabeu (around €25m) and from Man Utd to PSG (£44m).
One of the most decorated footballers in club history, Raiola client and serial title winner Ibrahimovic is just really missing a European honour from his medal collection.
The Sweden superstar has lifted the Eredivisie (Ajax), Serie A (Juventus, Inter Milan and AC Milan), La Liga (Barcelona) and Ligue 1 (PSG) crowns, plus a whole host of domestic cups. Ibrahimovic will spend the 2016/17 season with Man Utd after agreeing a free switch to Old Trafford and has started his career in red brightly.
Currently plying his trade as a Galactico at Real Madrid, Colombian international playmaker Rodriguez is another superstar represented by Mendes, who helped secure a €45 move for the attacker from Porto to Monaco in 2013.
Following just a single season in the south of France, Rodriguez’s dazzling displays at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil saw him earn a €79.8m mega move to Los Blancos, having been awarded the Golden Boot in that tournament.
At just 23 years old, Everton frontman Lukaku has already featured for Belgium at the 2014 World Cup and most recently Euro 2016, as well as being only one of five players to reach 50 Premier League goals before reaching his current age.
The formidable hitman arrived at Stamford Bridge for £10m in 2011 and, after loan spells with West Bromwich Albion and Everton, the Raiola-represented starlet joined his current Merseyside employers permanently for a club record £28m in 2014.
Of all Mendes’ clients, feisty Chelsea striker Costa is perhaps the most notoriously physical, with his antis on the pitch having seen him gain a reputation for being one for referees to constantly look out for.
The Brazil-born Spain attacker fired Chelsea to the top flight title in 2015 after a £32m switch from Spanish giants Atletico Madrid, after previously helping his past employers to La Liga and Copa del Rey success.
After starring for Bundesliga giants Borussia Dortmund in Germany during three seasons, Mkhitaryan’s performances caught the eye of Mourinho, who made the forward one of his first signings as Man Utd boss.
The 27-year-old is the first Armenian-born player ever to feature in the Premier League, with the Raiola client having racked up an impressive 32 assists in all competitions last season.
Despite being just 18 years of age, Sanches has already risen to prominence in Europe, having been pivotal to Portugal’s Euro 2016 this summer, with his dynamic displays possibly justifying his recent mammoth transfer fee to Bayern Munich.
The German champions landed the teenage sensation for a substantial €35m up front but, if he produces further heroics next term then that fee could rise to a whopping €80m with add-ons and bonuses. Some of which agent Mendes is sure to see some part of.
PSG midfield maestro Matuidi has showcased his credentials on the biggest platforms in recent campaigns, helping his club reign supreme domestically once again last season and recently being part of the France side to lose out on home soil to Portugal.
The 29-year-old had also been linked with a switch to Old Trafford, alongside national teammate Pogba. He played with new Man Utd signing Ibrahimovic for several seasons and won many honours, so could he become another Raiola client to arrive at the Red Devils in future?
Currently at PSG, Silva is one of the most expensive defenders in history, with Mendes’ man having made the move from the San Siro to the Parc des Princes in 2012 for a reported €42m after winning Serie A.
The Parisians centre back captained Brazil at the 2014 World Cup in their own backyard, but the former AC Milan star notably missed the stunning 7-1 semi-final thrashing to eventual champions Germany.
Yet another link between Man Utd and Raiola, with current Red Devils back-up stopper Romero having arrived on the red half of Manchester last year on a free transfer from Sampdoria.
Despite playing second fiddle to David de Gea at his club, the 29-year-old Argentina goalkeeper has been first-choice at five consecutive major tournaments from 2010 World Cup.
Colourful character and La Liga defender Pepe was involved in a huge €30m move from Porto to Real Madrid in 2007, and joins the likes of Sanches and Ronaldo as Portugal internationals to be represented by Mendes.
Recently a Euro 2016 winner with his nation, Pepe is easily the dirtiest player and most proficient with the dark arts among the high-profile clients of this busy super agent.
The 33-year-old has already lifted a double of Champions League trophies and the same number of Spanish league crowns in his career, among many others.
Last but not least in Raiola’s list of high-profile clients is controversial Italy international Balotelli, with the frontman having previously starred for his country at Euro 2012.
Big money moves to Manchester City and AC Milan, for €21.8 and a reported €20m respectively, have seen the striker get around, while a more modest switch to Liverpool didn’t turn out to be quite as he planned.
Although, the most maverick of all talents is still just 25 and could yet enjoy a long-term career, whether at current club Nice or elsewhere.