Football agents in general have become increasingly important in the day to day lives of footballers. The added pressures of social media presence, building a brand for lives post-careers and of course the exponential increase of money circulating in the beautiful game over the last two decades. The third in particular to get their client, and of course themselves, the most lucrative contracts. Not ideal for the clubs who have even more balancing acts to keep their star players happy, often being held to ransom. Mino Raiola is perhaps the most notorious football agent in world football and he’s done Manchester United no favours over the last few weeks.
The Italian super-agent has a long list of clients, most of whom are big names. Ibrahimovic, Verratti, Donnarumma, De Ligt, Haaland to name a few. Even Romelu Lukaku in the past. But of course, his golden goose and the player making headlines even when he’s not playing Paul Pogba. The truth of the matter is, the Frenchman has conducted himself incredibly professionally for the most part of this transfer saga. Getting his head down to recover from his injury, but most importantly keeping quiet. Yet Raiola continues to add fuel to the fire and has increased friction perhaps to a point of no return with the Old Trafford faithful.
Mino Raiola – The early signs
This has been brewing for a long time now. Sir Alex Ferguson warned people early on about the problems Raiola could cause. The former restaurant waiter was ultimately the driving force behind Pogba’s move away from Manchester to Juventus in 2012. So the relationship between agent and club was never built on strong foundations. But after his sensational world record return to Old Trafford in 2016, you would think the tensions had been eased.
Of course ripping into Paul Scholes for comments about his client also didn’t sit well with United fans
“There are one or two football agents I simply do not like, and Mino Raiola, Paul Pogba’s agent, is one of them.”Sir Alex Ferguson’s comments on Raiola in his 2015 book ‘Leading‘
Not to mention the fact facilitated the moves for several of his clients to the Red Devils between 2016 and 2018. Mkhitaryan, Ibrahimovic, Lukaku the year after. It’s fair to say it was an incredibly successful summer for the Italian. He reportedly, from the World Cup winner’s transfer alone, received a staggering £41 MILLION. Almost half of the value of transfer fee. It’s ludicrous, but one thing you can’t knock the guy for is being good at his job. He’s pulled an absolute blinder there and held the biggest club in England to his terms.
Gradual break down of relations
Instead, rather than relationship blossoming, it’s fragility has really been exposed. It’s no secret that Paul Pogba wanted a move away from Manchester United last summer. He wasn’t happy, suggesting the possibility of a new challenge and Real Madrid were in the middle of a huge summer spending spree.
Los Blancos wanted this move, making bids for the midfielder. Granted they weren’t the right bids for United to accept, he’s worth at least what they paid for him in this market. Perhaps more considering he’s going into his prime now. Yet keeping an unhappy player at the club has turned out to be a disaster, both on and off the pitch. Of course, Mino Raiola has been at the centre of it all with some of stuff he’s said.
The outlandish and incredibly divisive comments he has made, have done Manchester United no favours. PR wise, Solskjaer’s press conferences, the general feeling in the dressing room, as well as various other ways. Pogba went through a period of about 2-3 months without a word being said about him or a transfer away. But all of sudden, his agent starts talking and he becomes the centre of attention AGAIN:
Manchester United vs Mino Raiola
First suggesting he will no longer take his clients to Manchester United, coming right at the time where the club’s primary target Erling Haaland moved to Dortmund. Another Raiola client, another kick in the teeth for the Red Devils. You could spin these comments and suggest he’s exposing the deep rooted issues at club. Intentionally or unintentionally so.
“They would also ruin Maradona, Pele and Maldini”Raiola on bringing players to Manchester United
But on face value, he’s insinuating he doesn’t want to keep Pogba there. Saying this when there is already so much scrutiny on United with regards to their star French international just adds fuel to the fire. It turns more fans against him and increases the force behind the sale. Of course, this is in the best interests of both client and agent. Yet for a club already with so many issues on and off the pitch, it just shoots down the possibility of any sort of compromise with the situation. Things have turned sour and it just looks bad on the club either way, putting them in a corner. Cynical but smart from Raiola.
The master manipulator
Then just before United’s game against Chelsea, he chooses to put out even more comments. This time attacking Solskjaer and claiming Paul Pogba isn’t his prisoner. For neutrals, it’s pure entertainment just seeing an agent publicly toy with England’s biggest club. But I can only imagine how furious the red of Manchester is with these statements.
The timing is perhaps the most infuriating thing, considering it’s clearly to disrupt the side going into the side and once again push the club towards breaking point. This is believe is the last straw and the general consensus is surely now to sell Pogba. Not because of him, but more because of his toxic agent that is doing nothing but cause problems.
Mino Raiola – The divider
Credit to Simon Jordan and TalkSport who were spot on about the culture and divisions created by the super-agent. Not their biggest fans, but this video below really is worth a watch. Even if it’s just for Jordan rattling Raiola.
Though what I do find amusing is how Mino Raiola has now come out and said they’re open for talks about a new deal at United! This is unbelievable, the guy is genuinely running the whole industry without United being able to lay a finger on it. The MASTER MANIPULATOR.
The bigger picture – Football’s agent problem
I think this is an issue that goes beyond Manchester United and Paul Pogba. He’ll move in the summer to Real, Raiola will pocket another incredible agent fee and United (you’d like to think) will reinvest the funds. Both parties will go their separate ways and move on. You’d like to think that after this whole saga is over, United will never deal with the Italian again considering how significantly it has disrupted the club. But, Mino Raiola is the prime example of a massive issue in modern day football: Agent and player power.
The fact one single person can hold arguably the world’s biggest sport brand to ransom is a concern. Not just for United, but clubs across Europe. The free reign agents have to dictate player behaviour and ultimately cause havok for clubs with the click of a finger is worrying.
The amount of money they receive in order to facilitate deals too coupled with the non-sense comments the likes of Raiola make, it’s just not in good taste. Players aren’t bothered because they’re rightfully selfish and want the best for themselves. Any publicity is good publicity too, so this whole situation will only benefit Mino Raiola.
We shouldn’t be talking about agents. In many cases, you’d rather not hear about them. They’re meant to be the people working behind the scenes, but are instead becoming the centre of attention. It’s something that needs to be solved as soon as possible. Regulations or fines, that’s for the governing bodies to decide. Otherwise this will be happening far more often.
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