Mino Raiola, the agent of football stars, is dead

His name eventually became almost as famous as his clients’. Mino Raiola died at age 54, announced his family on Twitter on Saturday April 30th“It is with infinite sadness that we announce the passing of the most caring and brilliant players’ agent who ever lived”his relatives wrote. For thirty years, the Italian agent had become one of the key players in the football transfer market.

To sign a Zlatan Ibrahimovic, a Paul Pogba, a Marco Verratti or to poach Norwegian gold nugget Erling Haaland, the club presidents had to deal with Raiola, his personality and his manners. “Mino is the kind of man who can toast to the VIP lounge of a Champions League match in shorts and tap shoes”had fun interrogated his colleague Bruno Satin by The world in 2014.

Also read: Mino Raiola, creator of Zlatan

“He looked like one of the guys from the ‘Soprano’ series”

Zlatan Ibrahimovic talks about his first meeting with his future representative in the early 2000s: “The first time I saw Mino I thought it was a joke He looked like one of the guys in the show Sopranojeans, Nike t-shirt with huge belly »describes the Swede in Me, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (J.C. Lattes, 2013).

The suit and tie and the physical maintenance, very little for him. Raiola left all that to Jorge Mendes, the other superstar agent. However, the trajectory of the two men tells the same story, that of two screamers who started from nothing, to become characters as essential as they are rejected in the transfer window, this spectacle that has become permanent in the transfer economy.

Everyone has their own legend. Mendes is the owner of a nightclub from the north of Portugal that became Cristiano Ronaldo’s pygmalion. Mino Raiola was the former pizza chef who spoke seven languages ​​and has a personal fortune estimated at 50 million euros. Not without some gray areas. The agent was thus involved in the “Football Leaks” scandal in the mid-2010s that involved tax evasion in the football company

Born on November 4, 1967 in Nocera Inferiore (Campania region, Italy), Carmine (his real first name) was only one year old when his parents moved to Haarlem in the Netherlands, where the Raiola family’s Ristorante Napoli finds its clients. When he doesn’t put a single pizza in the oven, Mino helps with the dishes, the service and sticks his nose in the accounts. He also takes the time to have a chat with the leaders of FC Haarlem. “At one point they just said to him: if you know so much, why don’t you get into management? †a local journalist, Edwin Struis, testified to Agence France-Presse in 2016.

But the young man doesn’t stick around for long as the sporting director of a club too modest for his ambitions. In 1993 he placed two of the stars of Ajax Amsterdam, Dennis Bergkamp and Wim Jonk, at Inter Milan. Mino Raiola will never serve pizza again. The Monegasque native since 1996 imposes his style and methods. He does not sign a formal contract with his protégés and does not hesitate – like Mendes – to steal clients from his colleagues. And like the Portuguese, he has a fascination for his players.

To defend them, Raiola exposes them as paintings (so Zlatan is his) Mona LisaMatthijs de Ligt NV night patrol van Rembrandt) and goes into conflict to defend their interests and his. He is not friends with the club bosses, but he is with his players. And as soon as they have a problem, he goes to them. entrusted one of his colleagues to the World in 2014.

Excessive and tight negotiations

Always between two planes, the man accumulates as many miles as noisy statements. From Pep Guardiola (then coach of FC Barcelona and angry with Ibrahimovic), he trusted the Mirror all his contempt. “As a trainer he is fantastic, but as a person he is an absolute zero, a dog, a coward.” In 2012, he called the Dutch idol Johan Cruijff a “senile jerk”before apologizing.

That same year, the Italian placed his “Mona Lisa” Ibrahimovic in Paris and became the privileged agent of the Paris-Saint-Germain leaders. When the Paris club signed Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma in July 2021, at the risk of weakening the incumbent, Keylor Navas, some saw Raiola’s influence on the sporting director, Leonardo.

In 2016, Mino Raiola made Paul Pogba the most expensive player in history ever with an estimated €120 million move to Manchester United. In recent months, the agent has multiplied statements and clues (such as PSG’s) about the future of his protégé, whose playing reminded him of the creations of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat.

From now on, the football world will have to live without the excesses, the tight negotiations and the artistic references of Carmine Raiola.

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