6 of the Most Famous Agents in World Football and Who They Look After
Like them or not—and when questioned, most fans will most likely fall into the second category—in a world where football has become a gargantuan, multimillionaire business, agents are here to stay.
At one point, the introduction of player representatives was a positive step forward for the sport, ensuring that players were not exploited by their clubs and would be properly rewarded for their efforts.
In 2013, however, many would argue that the pendulum has swung too far the other way.
Now the world's most powerful agents enjoy a stable of global superstars and benefit from their backroom dealings with generous percentages of both contract renovations and transfer fees. Those who belong to this elite category enjoy almost as big of a reputation as the players they represent, and when they speak, clubs listen intently.
But who are the men behind football's biggest transfers and players? Here are some of the top representatives currently active and who they work for behind the scenes.
The Israeli businessman has a legitimate claim to the title of football's first super agent, having burst into the consciousness of the British public at the turn of the century, thanks to his part in several blockbuster transfers.
According to The Guardian, the agent was responsible for giving the Premier League its first taste of a business practice that had long been present in South American football: third-party ownership. Journalists investigating the sale of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano to West Ham in 2006 made an interesting discovery when looking closer into details of the deal.
The institution in control of the pair's contract was not Brazilian giant Corinthians, but an investment consortium which had purchased a percentage of the Argentines' playing rights in the hope of making a profit down the line.
The arrival of Roman Abramovich to Chelsea was also smoothed over by Zahavi, and his role in the transfer of players such as Rio Ferdinand, Didier Drogba and Ashley Cole has helped establish him as one of the most notorious agents in the game.
As far as high-profile clients are concerned, Portuguese representative Jorge Mendes must own the jewel in the crown. According to A Football Report, not only does the agent do business on behalf of Real Madrid megastar and part-time model Cristiano Ronaldo, but he also represents Special One Jose Mourinho.
Not content with those two, Mendes—a budding footballer himself before injury ruined his professional dreams—was the mastermind behind the estimated €105 million deal that brought Colombian pair Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez to Monaco. He also works for stars such as Victor Valdes, Pepe, Angel Di Maria and Nani.
In fact, if there is one agent active in world of football today who could challenge for Pini Zahavi's super-agent title, this 47-year-old businessman would have a very strong claim.
In the world of football and its agents, few single individuals work their representative harder than Mario Balotelli.
The AC Milan striker's inability to stay almost a single day out of the headlines must be a headache for Mino Raiola, but then again, a string of lucrative deals over the past few years may go a long way to soothing both men.
Goal.com reveals that the Italian businessman's agency is named after fictional representative Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise as the eponymous wheeler-dealer who later grows a heart. This tells a lot of how Raiola likes to present himself—flamboyant, committed and fair to his clients—and you cannot argue with his success.
As well as masterminding Balotelli's switch to the San Siro, the agent was the brains behind taking Zlatan to Paris Saint-Germain just six months previously. Alongside those two forwards, stars such as Robinho, Pavel Nedved and Dennis Bergkamp have all at some time been clients of the Dutch resident.
The key for any agent is to detect young and raw talent, and once they are a familiar face on the football scene, create the biggest fuss possible around them. The purpose: to prompt better terms in a contract negotiation, a transfer or perhaps even both.
This is Gines Carvajal's intention, according to Sport, for Barcelona youngster Gerard Deulofeu. With the ink barely dry on the talented teenager's new deal with the La Liga champions, his representative has already started to offer him around the market, albeit on a loan move possibly to Sevilla.
Few would doubt that the agent knows what he is doing. Traditionally linked more closely to Real Madrid, according to Mundo Deportivo, with clients such as Iker Casillas and Raul, Carvajal is beginning to create links with the Catalan giants. Young Deulofeu could be the first of many Blaugrana prospects to align with the grim-faced empresario.
With so many unsavoury figures hanging around football, who better to trust with your affairs than a family member?
Lionel Messi is happy to leave negotiations to his father, Jorge, while Atletico Mineiro star Ronaldinho has for years been managed by his brother, Roberto Assis.
One of the most astute figures in the game, Pep Guardiola similarly has no problem sitting beside his brother, Pere, when it comes to the economic side of football.
According to The Local, the agent was influential in drawing up the contract that took his brother to Bayern Munich for the start of the coming season, and Pere recently spoke out to say that Pep was progressing well with his German.
Guardiola's interests in representation certainly do not begin and end with his family. He also manages the interests of stars such as Luis Suarez and David Villa, two players who could also be moving on in the transfer window.
When some sort of world transfer record is broken, the name of Peppino Tirri has a habit of being closely linked.
The Italian agent has been involved in football since the early 1990s when he was CEO of tiny Serie C club Licata, but since moving out of the boardroom and into representation, he has found considerably more luck.
So have his clients.
Just ask Samuel Eto'o, who became the new richest man in football after signing a blockbuster deal with Anzhi that was, as reported by Goal.com, brokered by Tirri. Other happy customers were Gaizka Mendieta—who in 2001 became football's most expensive man on moving from Valencia to Lazio (TuttoJuve)—as well as Rivaldo, who was taken from Barcelona to Milan by the agent.
Tirri specialises in traffic between Spain and Italy. A close relationship with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez, according to Marca, has allowed the pair to work together on the transfers of Luis Figo, Esteban Cambiasso, Walter Samuel, Antonio Cassano and many other top players who have moved from, or to, the Merengue in the last two decades.