Soccer’s Most Powerful Super Agents in 2021

By Ben Morris in Soccer
| January 4, 2021 7:12 am PDT
Soccer’s Super Agents

Love them or hate them – agents play a huge role in modern-day soccer.

From negotiating contracts to brokering transfers, agents are ultimately responsible for getting their clients the best possible deals.

In recent years, a number of “super agents” have risen to prominence. These are agents or companies that represent a number – sometimes hundreds – of different players and managers, earning millions in the process.

In this post, I cover the top five most influential super agents in world soccer. I look at the players they represent and discuss some of the biggest transfers in history.

Mino Raiola

Who is Mino Raiola?

  • Mino Raiola was born in Italy in 1967
  • A year later, he moved with his family to the Netherlands
  • Raiola played soccer for HFC Haarlem at the youth level
  • Aged 18, he gave up playing and became an agent
  • Raiola worked for Sports Promotions in the early 90s
  • In the late 90s, he started his own business
  • Raiola can speak seven languages

With Sports Promotions, Raiola helped to engineer the transfers of numerous Dutch players to Italian clubs. His first high-profile deal saw Bryan Roy move from Ajax to Foggia in 1992, while he also played a role in Dennis Bergkamp’s 1993 transfer from Ajax to Inter Milan.

After leaving Sports Promotions, Raiola’s first major transfer as an independent agent was Pavel Nedved’s switch from Sparta Prague to Lazio in 1996.

Raiola now represents over 20 players across Europe’s top leagues. In 2016, he reportedly earned €25 million from Paul Pogba’s €105 move from Juventus to Manchester United.

Which Players Does Raiola Represent?

  • Erling Haaland – Borussia Dortmund
  • Paul Pogba – Manchester United
  • Matthijs de Ligt – Juventus
  • Marco Verratti – PSG
  • Lorenzo Insigne – Napoli
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma – AC Milan
  • Stefan de Vrij – Inter Milan
  • Marcus Thuram – Borussia Monchengladbach
  • Hirving Lozana – Napoli
  • Alessio Romagnoli – AC Milan

Those are just a few of the big-name players that are on Raiola’s books.

He also represents a number of highly-rated youngsters, including Dutch 18-year-old duo Ryan Gravenberch (Ajax) and Mohamed Ihattaren (PSV Eindhoven), and Italian prodigy Moise Kean (PSG).

Raiola’s Biggest Deals

Raiola has engineered countless big-money transfers over the years, with Pogba’s deal even breaking the world transfer record at the time.

Let’s take a look at his biggest deals to date.

MINO RAIOLA’S MOST LUCRATIVE TRANSFERS
Player From To Transfer Fee
Paul Pogba Juventus Manchester United €105m
Romelu Lukaku Everton Manchester United €85m
Matthijs de Ligt Ajax Juventus €75m
Zlatan Ibrahimovic Inter Milan Barcelona €46m
Pavel Nedved Lazio Juventus €41m
Robinho Manchester City AC Milan €35m
Henrikh Mkhitaryan Borussia Dortmund Manchester United €31m

Jorge Mendes

About Jorge Mendes

  • Jorge Mendes was born in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1966
  • After failing to make it as a player, Mendes became an agent in the mid-90s
  • He was previously a DJ and nightclub owner
  • Mendes brokered his first deal as an agent in 1996
  • His most famous client is Cristiano Ronaldo
  • He also represents manager Jose Mourinho

Mendes is the owner of GestiFute – a company offering agent services to soccer players. He founded the firm in 1996 and has since become one of the most powerful agents in the game.

After brokering Nuno Espirito Santo’s move from Vitoria Guimaraes to Deportivo La Coruna, Mendes secured his first major international transfer, helping Hugo Viana move from Sporting to EPL side Newcastle in 2002.

In 2004, Mendes orchestrated Jose Mourinho’s move from Porto to Chelsea, with Portuguese stars like Deco, Ricardo Carvalho, Paulo Ferreira, Maniche, and Tiago joining the English club soon after.

Notable Mendes Clients

  • Cristiano Ronaldo – Juventus
  • Bernardo Silva – Manchester City
  • Fabinho – Liverpool
  • Ederson – Manchester City
  • Diogo Jota – Liverpool
  • James Rodirguez – Everton
  • Angel Di Maria – PSG
  • Ruben Dias – Manchester City
  • Ricardo Pereira – Leicester
  • Renato Sanches – Lille

As you can see, Mendes works with some of the best soccer players on the planet, with a heavy influence on the EPL and Europe’s other top divisions.

As well as representing Jose Mourinho, Mendes has a number of other coaches on board, including Jesse Marsch (Red Bull Salzburg) and Aitor Karanka (Birmingham City).

The Mendes-Wolves Connection

When Chinese company Fosun International took over English side Wolverhampton Wanderers in 2016, Mendes was appointed as the club’s official agent.

Working alongside Wolves manager Nuno – who was Mendes’ first-ever player client – the 54-year-old has helped the Wanderers to build one of the strongest squads in the EPL.

Overseas superstars like Mexico international Raul Jimenez have joined the club since Mendes’ involvement began, although the majority of players signed by Wolves in recent years have been Portuguese.

Remarkably, eight of Wolves’ current first-team squad are Portuguese – and they’re all top-quality players!

WOLVES’ CURRENT PORTUGUESE PLAYERS
Player From Transfer Fee
Fabio Silva Porto €40m
Nelson Semedo Barcelona €30m
Daniel Podence Olympiacos €19.6m
Rui Patricio Sporting €18m
Ruben Neves Porto €17.9m
Pedro Neto Porto €17.9m
Roderick Miranda Rio Ave €2.5m
Vitinha Porto Loan

Jonathan Barnett

Who Is Jonathan Barnett?

  • Born in England, Jonathan Barnett is a 70-year-old sports agent
  • He is the chairman and founder of Stellar Group Limited
  • Barnett’s agency is the fourth-largest of its kind in the world
  • Interestingly, his first client was West Indies cricketer Brian Lara
  • He is also responsible for Lennox Lewis’ rise in the boxing world

As the boss of Stellar Group Limited, Barnett was responsible for masterminding Gareth Bale’s €100m transfer from Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 2013.

Forbes recently named Barnett as the second most powerful sports agent in the world for 2020. Only Scott Boras – an American baseball agent – ranked higher on the list.

Who Does Barnett Represent?

  • Saul Niguez – Atletico Madrid
  • Eduardo Camavinga – Rennes
  • Jack Grealish – Aston Villa
  • Ben Chilwell – Chelsea
  • Mason Mount – Chelsea
  • Ibrahima Konate – RB Leipzig
  • Wojciech Szczesny – Juventus
  • Maxi Gomez – Valencia
  • Kieran Tierny – Arsenal
  • Jordan Pickford – Everton

Barnett represents a host of European players, with Unai Simon (Athletic Bilbao), Duje Caleta-Car (Marseille), and Sergino Dest (Barcelona) all on SGL’s books.

But along with Grealish, Chilwell, and Mount, Barnett primarily works with multiple players based in the English Premier League.

Lewis Dunk (Brighton), James Ward-Prowse (Southampton), Luke Shaw (Manchester United), and Gylfi Sigurdsson (Everton) are a few more names involved with SGL.

Pini Zahavi

About Pini Zahavi

  • Pinhas “Pini” Zahavi was born in Israel in 1955
  • After dropping out of university, Zahavi worked as a soccer journalist
  • In 1979, he negotiated his first deal as an agent
  • Previous high-profile clients include Rio Ferdinand, Jaap Stam, and Juan Sebastian Veron
  • Zahavi co-owns Israeli media company Charlton
  • He also holds a share in Argentine motorsport team HAZ

Zahavi’s very first transfer saw Israeli defender Avi Cohen join Liverpool from Maccabi Tel Aviv, while his contacts in England enabled him to engineer numerous EPL transfers throughout the 80s and 90s.

He then went on to play a key role in Roman Abramovich’s takeover of Chelsea. Zahavi subsequently helped to bring a host of stars to the club, reportedly earning around £5 million from player transfers in 2003.

Nowadays, Zahavi isn’t as influential as he once was. But he still represents a plethora of well-known players across Europe.

Zahavi’s Leading Clients

  • Robert Lewandowski – Bayern Munich
  • Alex Telles – Manchester United
  • Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg – Tottenham Hotspur
  • Carlos Teves – Boca Juniors
  • Morgan Sanson – Marseille
  • Julian Weigl – Benfica
  • Kevin Trapp – Eintracht Frankfurt
  • Daniel Amartey – Leicester City
  • Vincent Aboubakar – Besiktas
  • Sean Longstaff – Newcastle United

As well as working with plenty of players, Zahavi also operates for managers. Veteran Benfica gaffer Jorge Jesus and Beijing Sinobo Guoan boss Bruno Genesio are among the Israeli’s coaching clients.

After failing to engineer a move away from Crystal Palace, Wilfried Zaha teamed up with Zahavi in January 2020 in an attempt to get a big-money transfer to an elite club.

Volker Struth

What Do We Know About Volker Struth?

  • It’s fair to say that Volker Struth likes to stay out of the spotlight
  • He is Germany’s most influential soccer agent
  • Struth is the head of SportsTotal
  • He orchestrated Toni Kroos’ 2014 move from Bayern Munich to Real Madrid

Unlike fellow super agents like Raiola and Mendes, very little is known about Struth. He keeps a very low profile in the media, yet he is undoubtedly the most influential soccer agent in Germany.

Founded in 2007, SportsTotal has been involved in numerous noteworthy transfers in the Bundesliga and beyond, with Struth spearheading lucrative moves for the likes of Toni Kroos and Mario Gotze.

Struth is the executive of SportsTotal, although Dirk Hebel and Sascha Breese also play prominent roles in the company.

High-Profile SportsTotal Clients

  • Dayot Upamecano – RB Leipzig
  • Toni Kroos – Real Madrid
  • Niklas Sule – Bayern Munich
  • Marco Reus – Borussia Dortmund
  • Suat Serdar – Schalke 04
  • Amadou Haidara – RB Leipzig
  • Luca Waldschmidt – Benfica
  • Philip Max – PSV Eindhoven
  • Fabian Schar – Newcastle United
  • Hannes Wolf – Borussia Monchengladbach

Other notable players that Struth works with include Maximilian Mittelstadt (Hertha Berlin), Dominique Heintz (SC Freiburg), and Mark Uth (Schalke 04).

He also has a number of rising youngsters on his roster, with 19-year-old Nicolas Seiwald (Red Bull Salzburg) and 21-year-old Ismail Jakobs (FC Koln) on board.

You’ll notice that Struth primarily operates in Germany with homegrown players, but his European contacts have allowed him to carry out his business across the continent.

Closing Thoughts

Some of the world’s most prominent soccer agents are viewed as controversial loud-mouths. But without them, the big-money transfers we all enjoy seeing just wouldn’t happen.

I mean, can you imagine Neymar’s record-breaking €222 million move from Barcelona to PSG happening without the help of an agent? It simply wouldn’t have worked.

Super agents seem to be the future of soccer agency, with more and more high-profile players teaming up with the likes of Raiola and Mendes.

Their strategies often divide opinion, but there is no denying that whatever they are doing is making them a fortune!

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