The high-rolling super agents still raking it in: Jorge Mendes and Jonathan Barnett engineered deals worth £400MILLION this summer despite the Covid-19 pandemic with big-money moves for Ruben Dias and Ben Chilwell swelling the bank balance
- Jorge Mendes has facilitated deals that have generated £260m in player sales
- Jonathan Barnett has facilitated transfers with combined sales of £135m
- Mino Raiola, who put together Paul Pogba’s £89m move from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016, had a quiet window with deals worth £18m
- More than £500m was spent on intermediaries in transfers worldwide last year
It is not just the fans of Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Leeds United and Wolves who are cheering a successful transfer window.
Football super-agent Jorge Mendes also has cause to celebrate since he will pocket the commission on a string of mega deals he brokered in the last few months, generating a staggering £260million in transfer fees.
And Jonathan Barnett, who was named as ‘the most powerful sports agent in the world’ last year, has done well for himself and his clients, too, His Stellar Group agency negotiated £135m worth of player sales.
But it’s been a relatively quiet window for the third member of the agents’ super club, Mino Raiola. The man who put together Paul Pogba’s £89m move from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016, facilitated only £18m of transfer business.
Jorge Mendes has had a successful transfer window helping to facilitate some huge deals
Mendes, who runs the Portugal-based Gestifute sports agency, represents Ruben Dias, Diogo Jota, Nelson Semedo and Nicolas Otamendi – among others – who made big-money moves in the summer window.
Despite the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, Mendes, who famously oversaw Cristiano Ronaldo’s £100m move from Real Madrid to Juventus in 2018, has had another good year.
While most of the major European leagues locked down with clubs reducing their net spend to around zero, Mendes was still able to broker plenty of business in the high-rolling Premier League, where spending was above £1.2billion.
Three of the biggest deals of the summer transfer window involved Mendes’ clients, Ruben Dias, who moved to Manchester City, Nelson Semedo to Wolves and Diogo Jota to Liverpool
Agents’ fees are a major part of any deal with the total spent on intermediaries last year topping £500m for the first time, according to FIFA, but it is often not known how much the agent was paid in an individual deal or window.
‘When people try to estimate what agents have made in the window they are often wildly inaccurate,’ said Dan Chapman, Head of Sports Law at Leathes Prior solicitors and himself an agent.
‘The only people who know what has been paid to the agents involved are the clubs and the agent, and the player too if they have properly scrutinised the documentation.’
‘There are many different ways an agent might get paid because they can act for everybody, the selling club, the player and the buying club.’
Mendes has made money from deals involving other agents’ players, according to reports in Spain and Portugal, including the transfers of Francisco Trincao and Fabio Silva
For Mendes, that includes being paid for brokering deals involving other agents’ players.
The £35m transfer of 18-year-old striker Fabio Silva, who is represented by Soccer Talents Vision, from Porto to Wolves earned Mendes and his agency £6.4m for helping the deal to go through, according to reports in Portugal.
Helder Costa, Matt Doherty and Nicolas Otamendi transferred this summer for a combined total of £44m in transfer fees and all three players are among Mendes’ 122 clients
Similarly, 20-year-old Francisco Trincao’s £26m move from Braga to Barcelona also involved an agreement to pay £6.4m for Mendes’ services, according to the Spanish website AS, despite the fact the player is a client of agent Bruno Carvalho.
Mendes reportedly received £1.4m upfront with a further £5m available in add-ons,
It is not just Mendes who has benefited from the surprising profligacy of the Premier League clubs this summer.
Jonathan Barnett’s client Ben Chilwell moved from Leicester City to Chelsea for £50m
Jonathan Barnett, co-founder and chairman of the London-based Stellar Group, sorted Ben Chilwell’s move from Leicester City to Chelsea for £50m, but also managed Gareth Bale’s loan deal at Spurs and Adam Lallana’s free transfer from Liverpool to Brighton.
Meanwhile, Raiola, whose A-list clients include Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli and Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, who is valued at £72m, was quieter than normal.
He dealt with a handul of modest transfers in Italy and a loan move for Justin Kluivert, 21, from AS Roma to RB Leipzig for a fee of just under £1m. Kluivert is the son of legendary Holland international striker Patrick, who is now academy director at Barcelona.
However, agents can actually make more money from negotiating new contracts for players who are staying put, so if, for example, Raiola’s client Pogba were to agree to extend his stay at Manchester United, it would probably be a lucrative deal for them both.
The Most Powerful Football Agents
Jonathan Barnett, Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes have managed some of football’s biggest deals, including transfers for Paul Pogba and Cristiano Ronaldo
Agency: Stellar Group
Rank: #1 on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful Sports Agents 2019
Contract value: £1 billion
Number of clients valued at more than £1m: 124
Biggest deal in this window: Ben Chilwell, Leicester City to Chelsea, £50m
Most highly valued client: Saul Niguez, 25, midfielder, Atletico Madrid, £65m
Famous clients: Gareth Bale, Saul Niguez, Maxi Gomez, Jordan Pickford
Rank: #3 on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful Sports Agents 2019
Contract value: £900m
Number of clients valued at more than £1m: 54
Biggest deal in this window: Ruben Dias, Benfica to Manchester City, £64m
Most highly valued client: Bernardo Silva, 26, winger, Manchester City, £72m
Famous clients: Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Joao Cancelo, James Rodriguez
Agency: Mino Raiola
Rank: #5 on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Powerful Sports Agents 2019
Contract value: £550m
Number of clients valued at more than £1m: 40
Biggest deal in this window: Andrea Pinamonti, Genoa to Inter Milan, £7.2m
Most highly valued client: Erling Haaland, 20, striker, Borussia Dortmund, £72m
Famous clients: Paul Pogba, Marco Verratti, Lorenzo Insigne, Gianluigi Donnarumma
Source: Forbes The World’s Most Powerful Sports Agents 2019 and transfermarkt.co.uk
With respect to the summer’s other big deals, the German agency Spielerrat GMBH, which has only six players on its books valued at more than £1m, managed attacking midfielder Kai Havertz £89m move from Bayer Leverkusen to Chelsea.
And Karlheinz Forster, a central defender who was capped 81 times for Germany, handled Timo Werner’s £48m transfer from RB Leipzig to Chelsea despite only have two clients valued at more than £1m, while the American agency Wasserman oversaw Nathan Ake’s switch from Bournemouth to Manchester City for £41m.
Fifa announced a series of measures to restrict fees paid to players’ agents last year, by introducing caps on what they can earn on any deal.
However, at present only guidelines are in place, which are often ignored.
Kai Havertz, who is managed by the German agency Spielerrat GMBH was this summer’s most expensive player, with the attacking midfielder moving to Chelsea for £89m
While agents are exceptionally well paid when a star moves for big money, many of them are managing a large list of clients, who do not command high fees, including ageing or young players and those in the lower leagues.
Often players move on loan or use a free transfer in an attempt to increase their playing time or further their career.
Between them Barnett, Raiola and Mendes have managed around 30 loan deals and free transfers in this window alone.
Who is Jorge Mendes?
Jorge Mendes is one of the world’s most successful football agents.
According to Forbes, the media company that tracks the wealth of global influencers, Mendes is ranked three in the list of the world’s most powerful sports agents, which is largely dominated by US sports.
Last year, it was estimated he was managing more than £900m in active contracts.
The former DJ and nightclub owner has been overseeing some of the game’s most valuable transfers ever since he extended his friendship with footballers in Porto into brokering their next moves.
Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo became a client of Mendes more than 20 years ago when he managed the player’s £2m transfer from Vitoria Guimaraes to Deportivo
He set up Gestifute in 1996 and his first deal in 1997 saw the current Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo move from Vitoria Guimaraes to Deportivo la Coruna for just over £2m.
Mendes is exceptionally good at developing deep, local networks.
For the last 20 years he has steadily extended his influence in the Portuguese game to such an extent that he claims to have conducted 68% of all player transactions at Portugal’s great clubs, Sporting Lisbon, Benfica and Porto, in the decade 2001-10, according to The Guardian.
Nuno Espirito Santo is still one of Mendes’ clients and in recent years the agent has created a new sphere of influence in the unlikely location of Wolverhampton.
As well as the Wolves manager, Mendes also represents 10 recently departed, newly arrived and current players.
The list includes, right-back Matt Doherty, who moved from Wolves to Spurs for £15m this summer, where Jose Mourinho is also a client of Mendes.
Other Wolves-related business included striker Diogo Jota, who left for Liverpool in a £41m deal, and midfielder Helder Costa, who went from Wolves to Leeds for £16m.
Coming in were Mendes’ client Nelson Semeda who moved to Wolves from Barcelona for £37m and the teenager Fabio Silva, who found his way from Porto to Wolves for £35m with assistance from Mendes, according to reports in Portugal.
The pair should feel at home since goalkeeper Rui Patricio; midfielders Ruben Neves, Joao Moutinho, and Vitinha, and strikers Daniel Podence and Pedro Neto are all Mendes’ clients.
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