Loved by players, the bane of top managers - Mino Raiola too powerful for football’s biggest names to ignore

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 (AFP via Getty Images)
(AFP via Getty Images)

Mino Raiola’s influence on the world of football will be further underlined this summer.

Two of the super agent’s most famous clients will be involved in arguably the most significant deals of the upcoming window.

Erling Haaland is set to complete a move to Manchester City, while Paul Pogba will become a free agent and is set to walk away from Manchester United.

By Raiola’s standards they will represent loose change in terms of the fees they generate – but will go down as two of the biggest deals in history.

Haaland is available for £63million due to the buyout clause inserted by his representative when he moved to Borussia Dortmund in 2020. That paves the way to personal terms that have been reputed to be as high a £500,000-a-week.

Pogba, meanwhile, will be in line for an enormous signing on fee when he walks away from Old Trafford, along with a weekly wage that will make him one of the highest-paid players in the world.

No wonder Raiola’s clients are so fiercely loyal to him.

The Italian always claimed his priority was to get the best deal for his clients like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and they loved him for it. Managers and chief executives did not always feel the same.

He felt the wrath of Sir Alex Ferguson after engineering Pogba’s exit from United as a free agent when one of the hottest prospects in the game in 2012.

Ferguson wrote in his autobiography: “There are one or two football agents I simply do not like, and Mino Raiola is one of them. I distrusted him from the moment I met him.

“He and I were like oil and water. From then on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus.”

His relationship with Pep Guardiola was even more fraught, with Raiola outspoken in his criticism of the Catalan over his treatment of Ibrahimovic when managing him at Barcelona.

“If Guardiola doesn’t play Ibra after paying €75million for him, it’s best if you send him to a psychiatric hospital.”

He later claimed to have confronted Guardiola after the Champions League Final in 2011.

“I went for him that night in the corridors at Wembley,” he said. “Only Adriano Galliani stopped me. Lucky for Guardiola.”

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Raiola later said: “Pep Guardiola, the coach, is fantastic. As a person he’s an absolute zero. He’s a coward, a dog.”

Given such personal enmity, it emphasises Raiola’s power that he was still prepared to work with him to bring in Haaland this summer.

Likewise, United were prepared to do repeated business with him even after Ferguson’s experience.

Pogba was brought back to Old Trafford for a then-world record £89million. Raiola was believed to have earned a staggering £41million from that deal.

Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan were other big money moves to United.

And he hardly improved relations with the club or fans with his frequent public comments casting doubt over Pogba’s future.

Guardiola famously claimed Raiola even tried to engineer a move for the France midfielder to City.

Raiola was simply too big to ignore – too powerful for any club to refuse to do business with. And City’s impending deal for Haaland is the greatest evidence for that.

It is also a further example of the brash Italian’s careful management of his clients.

Haaland could have joined United back in 2020, when the player’s mentor, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, made such a strong bid to bring him to Old Trafford.

Instead, he rejected the possibility of the bigger move to further develop his game at Dortmund. Two and a half years on, Haaland is wanted by all the major clubs and can take his pick.

He may just be Raiola’s legacy.

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