With the EURO 2016 under way, all eyes in Europe – and many others in the rest of the world – are on soccer. Or football, as they call it. People are watching closely what the sport’s biggest names do on the field, and outside it (see the many pictures showing Ronaldo’s tantrums circulating over the ‘net). But none of the eyes are on the people behind the players, who represent them in their search for a new, better contract. It’s time to give them some well-deserved attention: here are the most powerful agents in European soccer (as of late last year).
Raiola is a guy who you didn’t even notice if you passed him in the street. But behind his average looks, there is a lot of power: he represents some of the best players in the soccer world, like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Mario Balotelli, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Romelu Lukaku. Born in Italy, a country well known for its passion for soccer, Raiola moved to Haarlem (a Dutch city) at a very young age.
He joined the management of the local soccer team, the HFC Haarlem, for a short time, but he resigned as the rest of the board was “too conservative” for his taste. Later he began working for a sports agent company, where he assisted the transfers of several high-profile players. Soon he left, starting his own business as a sports agent in the late 1990s. Today he lives in Monaco and represents over 20 players in European leagues.
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Jonathan Barnett is not only a sports agent but also the chairman of the Stellar Group Limited, a company that he founded himself. He is a significant player on the European soccer transfers market, his company representing almost 150 athletes, including names like Rafael, Wojciech Szczesny, and Gylfi Sigurdsson. Among the company’s most notable clients we can find names like Gareth Bale, Luke Shaw, and Joe Hart.
Mendes is considered the most powerful agent in European soccer. His company – GestiFute – represents some of the biggest – and most valuable – players in the sport: Cristiano Ronaldo, Diego Costa, Falcao, Nani, Carvalho, and many others. And not only players – his client list includes current Manchester United manager JosÃ© Mourinho, too, who’s transfers between various teams were intermediated by him. Mendes started his career as a player but abandoned his hopes for a pro career after being rejected by a number of clubs. He closed his first deal as an agent in 1996, and he established himself as an important agent in 2004 when he brokered Mourinho’s move from FC Porto to Chelsea. Since then he built a roster of leading Portuguese players, becoming one of the most important agents on the European soccer market.