Who is Mino Raiola: The Super-agent Behind Zlatan Ibrahimovic & Paul Pogba?
It’s official now - Sweden’s all-time top scorer and former PSG, Juventus, Ajax & Barcelona superstar striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has signed for Jose Mourinho’s new Manchester United. After a protracted transfer saga that spilled over into his ultimately unsuccesful Euro 2016 campaign, the Swedish stalwart signed, to much social media fanfare.
But who negotiated one of the 2016/17 summer transfer window’s biggest deals? Meet Mino Raiola – the man who’s $450 million worth of contracts include the likes of Ibrahimovic, Juventus’ Paul Pogba, ex-Chelsea youngster Romelu Lukaku and new Manchester United winger, Henrik Mkhitaryan!
Mino Raiola – Biography
Born in 1967, Carmine ‘Mino’ Raiola is originally from Nocera Inferiore in Salerno, southern Italy. Just one year after his birth, his family made the move to Haarlem in the Netherlands, the place he’d grow up in and eventually call home. The young Mino Raiola displayed his dynamism quite early on, working at his family restaurant (called ‘Napoli’) before starting his own company at the age of 20. He had been a decent footballer, playing for his local club but at 18, he knew he’d never forge a top-level career and hung up his boots.
He’d joined law school by then, so he knew his way around the legal hurdles - just two years later, he joined the board of HFC Haarlem, his hometown club. However, that adventure didn’t last very long. The young Raiola began to forge his own path, first as a player and administrator and then as a budding agent at a player agency called ‘Sports Promotion’ - and that’s when the fun started. His success would know no bounds, as he struck an incredible deal with the Dutch players’ union to represent all of the Netherlands’ footballers!
He got a taste of major international transfers very early on in his work there, negotiating deals involving the movements of Bryan Roy to Foggia & Marciano Vink to Genoa. In 1993, he was part of the team that engineered a big move to Inter Milan for a young Dutchman who neither Arsenal (nor Newcastle) fans will ever forget - Dennis Bergkamp. With the taste for success still teasing his mouth, he left the company and went for it alone - with his 8 language (Italian, Dutch, French, English, German Spanish, Portuguese & Neapolitan), he was always a good bet for that. He eventually started his Tom Cruise film inspired firm, Maguire Tax & Legal.
After the 1996 Euros, that proved to be the right decision, as he struck the deal that took the exciting midfield wizard & Euro finalist Pavel Nedved from Sparta Prague to Lazio. Just 8 years later, he returned to Ajax and snapped up some of their finest local talent including Mido, Maxwell and the young Zlatan Ibrahimovic. The career of a super-agent had begun in earnest.
Mino Raiola – Top 10 Biggest Deals
Mino Raiola has shown his acute knowledge of the transfer market, transferring his clients from club-to-club on their whims, negotiating lucrative relationships with major clubs and even hacking deals of players his firm don’t represent. His biggest success story is without doubt Zlatan Ibrahimovic, having taken the big Swede across Europe’s biggest clubs before finally bringing him to Mourinho’s United. However, with over $450 million in transfer, he’s done plenty of other mega-money deals. Here is a breakdown of his top 10 transfer deals:
|Robinho||Manchester City||Inter Milan||€15 million|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Ajax||Juventus||€16 million|
|Mario Balotelli||Inter Milan||Manchester City||€20 million|
|Mario Balotelli||AC Milan||Liverpool||€20 million|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Barcelona||AC Milan||€24 million|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Juventus||Inter Milan||€24.8 million|
|Mario Balotelli||Inter Milan||Manchester City||£24 million|
|Henrik Mkhitaryan||Borussia Dortmund||Manchester United||£26.4 million|
|Zlatan Ibrahimovic||Inter Milan||Barcelona||€46 million|
|Pavel Nedved||Lazio||Juventus||€41 million|
Mino Raiola – Controversy
The life of an agent is never too far from a few dark secrets - so with a super-agent, those can turn into veritable Grand Canyons! Mino Raiola has become a resident wheeler-and-dealer at several clubs, but there are a few places on the planet where the sight of him elicits some serious vein-popping on people’s foreheads!
Although he was allowed to sign several promising youngsters from Ajax in 2004, he surprised everybody when he eloped with their bulky striker (Zlatan Ibrahimovic) to Juventus on the final day of the 2004 summer window. 2 years later, after the Calcipoli trials led to the exposure of several less-than-savoury phone calls, he became a real persona non-grata. Why? This is what he and then Juventus director Luciano Moggi were revealed to have said:
Moggi: "You and Ibra continue to make trouble. Don't send him to training ..."
Raiola: "Tomorrow, I'll keep the player at home all day; he won't show up for training. I then have an appointment with the directors of Ajax at noon, but I'll come at two ..."
Naughty, naughty Mr. Raiola...
Mino Raiola – What they say
Sir Alex Ferguson - on Mino Raiola: "I distrusted him from the moment I met him."
- on Paul Pogba: “He has got an agent who’s obviously become a bit difficult ...”
Aurelio De Laurentiis (Napoli president) - on Mino Raiola: "He's a pain in the backside, who, for years, has been trying to take Hamsik away."
Mino Raiola – What he says
Raiola - on FIFA:”Even a 15-year-old kid knows that the only good thing about FIFA is the video game.”
Raiola - on Sepp Blatter: “If people vote Blatter, they are voting North Korea, if they vote me, they are voting South Korea."
Raiola - on players & clubs: "I think that when a player decides to leave a team he should leave... I have never made compromises”
Raiola - on Mario Balotelli: “I saw him on Monday and said...I’m not taking you away. Either you leave Liverpool for €60m or €70m and I win the bet or you die there’”
Raiola - on Pep Guardiola: “He’s a shitty person but a great coach. Guardiola was the one that brought Ibra to Barcelona and then treated him very badly.”