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Football's Top Super-Agents

Fri 15 October 2021 | 18:00

Currently, there are some top football agents that have more power to make big trouble for the biggest football clubs. These powerful men that pop up more frequently in transfer windows are called super-agents.

Agents have a bold role in today's football. Their duty is to handle almost everything a football player has to do except for playing. Money in football is growing and

top football agents

have been involved everywhere money matters. There are some agents with many well-known footballers as their clients. They have strong connections in the media and even club executives. Some of the biggest players like

Kylian Mbappé

have left the job to their trusted relatives, while Robert Lewandowski and

Romelu Lukaku

have super-agents like Pini Zahavi and Federico Pastorello. 

Let's check out some of the most powerful football agents: 

Some football fans accuse some of football's top super-agents of being immoral and even scammers, but their favorite superstars heavily depend on their agents. 

Kia Joorabchian

Kiavash Joorabchian is an Iranian-British/Canadian 50-year-old businessman who is not really a licensed football agent. He describes himself as an advisor or investment manager and is also involved in third-party ownership of players. Investors represented by him own the economic rights of 60-70 players in Europe and South America. In 2006, Financial Times reported that he is director of 10 UK companies in horse racing, kickboxing, car dealerships, and …. 

Carlos Tevez & Javier Mascherano

Joorabchian founded Media Sports Investments or MSI in 2004 to form a partnership with the Brazilian club,

Corinthians

. Joorabchian moved to Brazil and changed the way the club was running and increased revenue by 500% in the first year. Then they started signing players like

Carlos Tevez

,

Javier Mascherano

, and Carlos Alberto. The signing of Tevez and Mascherano from Boca Juniors and River Plate drew attention from around the world because of the $22 million and $15 million transfer fees, which were unusual in South America.

In 2007, there were some allegations about Corinthians being used to launder money and it followed breaking off associations with MSI. It turned out that Corinthians were only owning five of their playing squad. As one of the ​​

most powerful football agents

, Joorabchian arranged the transfers of Tevez and Mascherano to

West Ham

in August 2006. All four companies that owned these two players' economic rights were represented by Joorabchian. The transfer fee for both moves was undisclosed. It was reported that Pini Zahavi was involved in the transfer.

At the end of the season, Tevez helped West Ham not to be relegated in a match against

Sheffield United

, which was relegated. Sheffield sued West Ham on the grounds that Tevez shouldn't play. In 2009, it was settled out by West Ham, paying Sheffield United £20 million over five years. 

In 2007, Teves was transferred to

Manchester United

, but West ham was claiming that he had an active contract until 2010. Joorabchian stated that MSI and Just Sports Inc owned the economic rights to the player and that the deal had been negotiated with the "knowledge and permission" of West Ham.A threat of action in the High Court by FIFA was avoided by a settlement that saw West Ham receive a fee of £2 million for Tevez's transfer. Manchester United paid £3–4 million a year for Tevez's commercial and football rights for the two-year deal. In 2009 Manchester City paid £47 million for his transfer to companies owning his economic rights and ended third-party ownership.

Philippe Coutinho 

The Brazilian star signed with Joorabchian in 2016 when he was a

Liverpool

player. In 2013,

Coutinho

transferred to Liverpool for a £8.5 million transfer fee from Inter Milan and was given the number 10 shirt. In 2018, he signed a historic deal which was one of the most expensive in English football. The deal was worth £105 million and would rise to ​​£142 million with various clauses.

After the £105m basics, an additional £17m would be payable for the first 100 games Coutinho plays for

Barcelona

. A further £4.4m would be paid for Champions League qualification in the first two seasons with a £4.4m bonus for winning the competition. This was for a five-and-a-half-year contract, for which Barcelona included a buyout clause worth £355 million.  

In January 2021, it was revealed that Barcelona is still owed £35.5m in both short and long-term payables to Liverpool. But it has also been reported that Liverpool has received the whole amount, after selling the debt to a third-party financial institution, which is thought to be one of the Joorabchian Investment companies. 

Jonathan Barnett

Jonathan Barnett is co-founder and chairman of Stellar Group. If it's underwhelming, consider that the most expensive transfer of the last transfer window,

Jack Grealish

, is one of his clients. The Stellar Group is one of the biggest sports agencies in the world and many well-known footballers have been and currently are his clients. Jonathan Barnett was born on London's famous Baker Street on 28 January 1950. In his early days, Barnett worked in a casino owned by his family.

After the foundation of Stellar Group, his breakthrough client was cricket player Brian Lara. Barnett is also known for his key role in bringing cricket to South Africa. More than hundreds of players are now associated with his agency and according to Forbes, he has negotiated over $1.4 billion in active contracts and transfer fees. The Stellar agency has exceeded the $142.3 million commission on their contracts and transfers. Their current biggest clients are Jack Grealish, Eduardo Camavinga,

Luke Shaw

,

Ben Chilwell

, and Ibrahima Konaté. Let's check out the most notable moves one of

football’s top super-agents

, Barnett, has made.

Ashley Cole 

Ashley Cole

's move to Chelsea is one of the most notorious transfers of all time. Cole was an instrumental player for Arsenal since the beginning of the 21st century but a secret meeting turned the 2005-06 season upside-down. In January 2005, Barnett arranged a tapping-up meeting between Ashley Cole, the Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho, the club’s chief executive Peter Kenyon, and agent Pini Zahavi at a hotel. After disclosure of the meeting without informing Arsenal, the participants were found guilty.

Arsenal

pulled Cole out of the squad and he was fined £75,000. Chelsea and Mourinho were also fined but the biggest charges were directed to Barnett. He was fined £100,000 and his license was suspended for 18 months.

Arsenal fans were of course furious at Cole and the player rejected Arsenal’s offer to extend his contract. Cole eventually moved to Chelsea where played and achieved more than he had in Arsenal. Barnett defended Cole “I did what I had to do for my client. I represented Ashley Cole. Time has proved if you look at what he’s achieved at Chelsea, it was the right move.”

Gareth Bale

Gareth Bale

’s move from Tottenham to

Real Madrid

broke the world’s record transfer fee in 2013. Bale surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Real Madrid and became the first-ever  €100 million footballer. The process of the transfer was complicated because, despite Bale’s interest, Tottenham was not interested in the move at all. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez had already launched a new “Galácticos” project and he already had Ronaldo,

Benzema

, and Di Maria in Real’s squad.

Perez was determined to sign the Welsh superstar for two reasons. The first reason was Neymar’s arrival to Barcelona and Perez wanted to retaliate. The second reason was the yearning for “Decima”. In order to achieve the 10th Champions League title, Real was ready to do whatever it takes. Real was increasing the bids for Bale but

Tottenham

resisted them all. Disagreements escalated when Spanish newspaper Marca quoted Barnett as telling Real: “Have no doubts: Gareth has wanted to play for Madrid since he was a kid.”

Tottenham manager André Villas-Boas reacted to the Bale rumors by saying that the player was going nowhere. Bale gave Tottenham a cold shoulder and Barnett stated that:” Bale is very upset with Villas-Boas and is considering not even going to training this week because right now he is very upset.” At last, Spurs let Bale leave for Real and the Spanish club won the craved Decima. Bale and Barnett later caused some trouble for Real and even for Tottenham’s home during his loan return to the north London club.

Mino Raiola

All football enthusiasts are familiar with the notorious Mino Raiola. The Italian super-agent is arguably the most controversial football agent. Raiola was born in Salerno, but he was raised in the Netherlands due to his family's immigration. He worked as a waiter at his father's restaurant in the Dutch city of Haarlem. He went to the faculty of law after finishing high school and obtaining a diploma. As one of the

best football agents in the world

, Raiola speaks several different languages. Besides Italian and Dutch, he knows German, English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. 

Raiola started working with Dutch clubs but his breakthrough happened when he started to move top Dutch players to Italian clubs. The first notable transfer he made was

Frank Rijkaard

's move from Sporting to Milan in 1988. Five years later he was involved in

Dennis Bergkamp

's transfer from Ajax to Inter. After a while, he decided to work independently and his first big client was

Pavel Nedved

. Lazio signed Nedved from Sparta Prague and a few years later he joined Juventus on a €40 million transfer making him one of the most expensive players at the time.

Raiola is known for having bold clients like

Mario Balotelli

, Marco Verratti, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Matthijs de Ligt. Thanks to Raiola, his former client, Romelu Lukaku is now the most expensive player. At the time Lukaku joined Manchester United from Everton for €85 million the Italian man was his agent. Raiola's current top client is Erling Haaland who is favored by many top clubs. Let's have a look at two of his biggest clients.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic 

 

It was at Ajax where

Zlatan

was introduced as one of the most promising football talents. The first big move Raiola arranged for Zlatan was from Ajax to Juventus. The Italian side has always had A good relationship with Raiola. The transfer to Turin was made by €16 million. Zlatan was doing great in Juve and that was enough for Raiola to encourage Real Madrid to make a bid for Zlatan.

Juventus

rejected the €70 million offer Raiola set in motion but the super-agent got what he wanted. He wanted to increase Zlatan's market value. During the Calciopoli scandal that Juventus was involved and relegated after their Scudetti was stripped, Juve executive tried to persuade Zlatan to stay. Raiola threatened them to do legal actions if they don't agree with the departure of the Swedish star. Juventus' arch-rival, Inter was the team Zlatan joined and claimed that he had supported Inter when he was young. In 2007, Inter renewed Zlatan's contract with a raise making him the highest-paid footballer at the time.

Two years later on one of the biggest swap deals in football history, Zlatan went to Barcelona and in exchange, Samuel Eto'o joined Inter. The deal cost almost €70 million that was the world's third most expensive transfer after Cristiano Ronaldo and

Zinedine Zidane

. Raiola managed 5 more transfers in the remainder of his career. He joined Milan from Barcelona and after Milan, he went to make

Paris Saint-Germain

legit. In 2016 he went to Manchester United and then he spent two seasons at MLS club LA Galaxy. While most people considered MLS move a dead end, his return to Milan was really impressive.

Paul Pogba

Paul Pogba

had issues with his first two important transfers. The first was moving from LA Havre to Manchester United and then his departure from United to join Juventus. In Manchester, the French midfielder was summoned to the first team and despite that Pogba refused to renew his contract with the club.

Sir Alex Ferguson

accused Pogba of disrespecting Manchester United, saying, "It is disappointing. I don't think he showed us any respect at all, to be honest. I'm quite happy that if they [footballers] carry on that way, they're probably better doing it away from us."

Far away from Manchester, Pogba was doing great in Turin. He immediately became a key player for

Antonio Conte

. Together with

Andrea Pirlo

and Arturo Vidal, they formed a dream midfielder line for Juventus. After 4 years, Manchester United wanted Pogba back. It is where Mino Raiola showed no mercy to United. The Reds had to break the transfer record if they wanted back the player left for free. At first, Juve was not on board with the move. Raiola transferred two other of his clients, along with Pogba, to Manchester United.

Zlatan was a free transfer while Mkhitaryan cost £31 million for United. Manchester offered €105 million, plus bonuses of €5 million, surpassing Gareth Bale by at least €5 million, and Pogba became the most expensive footballer. Mino Raiola received approximately €27 million from United for the moves; especially for Pogba. “ He wanted to leave at all costs.” Juventus general manager Giuseppe Marotta said” Mino Raiola and his company will be paid €27m. Taking fees into account, the total gain for Pogba was €72m. Even then we didn't want to sell him; we wanted to put in French roots at Juventus."

Jorge Mendes

Everyone knows who

Cristiano Ronaldo

's agent is. Jorge Paulo Agostinho Mendes is a 55-year-old Portuguese football’s top super-agent and one of the most influential ones, who has been involved in many big transfers and also has been the agent of clubs like

Wolverhampton

and Swansea City. 

Other than being a super-agent, Mendes is the head of an agency for footballers which he founded in 1996, called GestiFute. In Portugal, it is allowed for third parties to own part of the economic rights of players, to receive a part of the transfer fee. One of the main reasons for Mendes' success was his constant presence at football schools and youth teams in Portugal, which made him young Ronaldo's agent. Outside football, he also has clients in other sports like Formula 1, surfing, tennis, and…. As the ten times winner of the “Best Agent of The Year” award at the Globe Soccer Awards, let's mention some of his big deals.

Jose Mourinho

In 2004, he orchestrated

Mourinho

's move from Porto to Chelsea. Mourinho already had an agent, who was Jorge Baidek. Baidek was about to make a deal with Liverpool for Mourinho to be their coach. At the time, Mourinho had successfully made Porto reach the Champions League final, which they won. With Mendes' intervening in the move to Liverpool, Mourinho dropped Baidek, hired Mendes, and agreed to Pini Zahavi's offer, who was Chelsea's representative.

Portuguese players such as

Ricardo Carvalho

, Paulo Ferreira, Tiago Mendes, and Nuno Maniche were Mendes' clients and followed Mourinho to the Premier League. Chelsea was paying Mendes to act for the club. GestiFute was also making money from these transfers.

Mourinho departed Chelsea in 2007 and joined Inter Milan. With the work of one of the best football agents in the world, Mourinho became the highest-paid coach in the world. It was certainly worth it from the Inter fans’ point of view, because they won a treble. At the same time, he arranged the move for

Luiz Felipe Scolari

to Chelsea, which became another highly paid club manager. After 2010, Mendes oversaw a move to Real Madrid for Mourinho on a four-year deal worth 40 million pounds.

Ronaldo, Bebe, & Other Big Clients

In 2003 Mendes saw Ronaldo’s transfer from Sporting to Manchester United for a fee of £12.24 million. After 6 years of nothing but glory, in 2009, Mendes made his biggest and most profitable transfer move. Ronaldo signed a contract with Real Madrid which was worth £80 million. It was reported that Mendes made £4 million from the transfer. Also, his move to Juventus was worth over £85 million. It was the highest ever for a player over 30 years old and the highest-paid by an Italian club.

In 2007, Mendes arranged the transfer of

Nani

and Anderson to United for £46 million. It was reported that Nani’s transfer was exactly after he dropped his agent, Ana Almeida. In the same transfer window, he brokered the transfer of Pepe to Real Madrid for £25 million. The deal for Anderson made Porto pay £4 million to Mendes for his share of the player’s registration. 

In the summer transfer window of 2010, Bebe went Vitória de Guimarães from Estrela da Amadora as a free agent. Estrela couldn’t handle his wages and his contract was canceled. After five weeks and playing six pre-season friendly games for Vitoria, Bebe’s agent, Gonçalo Reis received a letter that he was sacked and two days later on August 11, ‌Bebe joined Manchester United for a fee of £7.4 million.

Vitória directors revealed that Mendes got £2.5 million of the transfer fee, of which £2.3 million of it came from the 30% of the player’s economic rights. Vitória club president defended Mendes on this transfer because he believed that they were the likes of Mendes, who brought money into the country. The crazy point of the story is that Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he never saw Bebe playing before and Bebe only played seven games for United and was on loan for three seasons on his four-year contract. 

In the 2014 summer transfer window, Mendes was the mastermind of more than half of the big transfers and it is estimated that he earned £30 million from them.

James Rodríguez

moved to Real Madrid from Monaco for £63 million,

Ángel Di María

from Real Madrid to Manchester United for £60 million,

Diego Costa

from Atlético Madrid to Chelsea for £32 million and Eliaquim Mangala from Porto to Manchester City for £32 million.

Accusations

In 2014, it was reported by The Guardian that Jorge Mendes and Peter Kenyon aren’t following FIFA regulations about third-party ownership. It was reported that they are probably buying players’ rights through companies in Ireland and Jersey. Peter Kenyon was the chief executive of Chelsea, and before that, he was chief executive at United. In another report, it was said that Chelsea also was investing in third-party ownership through Mendes and Kenyon. In 2016 there were some leaked documents about tax avoidance by using offshore accounts in Mourinho and Ronaldo’s transfers.

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