The man behind Romelu Lukaku’s £75million move from Everton to Manchester United is agent Mino Raiola.
The 49-year-old has become one of the leading figures in European football and is now responsible for two of the richest deals of all time.
Here we look at some of the most prominent stars from Raiola’s roster, how he has steered them and consider what twists and turns might come next for Lukaku.
Having spent his holidays with Pogba in Los Angeles, Lukaku joins the France midfielder and fellow Raiola client at Old Trafford. A year ago, Pogba and Raiola were the focus of the footballing world as the 24-year-old completed a world-record return to United for £89.3million. The agent recently denied claims made by the Football Leaks website that he pocketed £41m in relation to his involvement with the deal. Raiola was to the fore when Pogba’s initial stay at United came to an end as relations between himself and then-manager Alex Ferguson broke down. Time does not appear to have been much of a healer – during a recent motivational talk to Premiership Rugby team Sale Sharks, Ferguson described Raiola as a “s***bag”.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was another Raiola client to arrive at United at the start of Jose Mourinho’s reign, while another member of the stable – Pogba’s France colleague Blaise Matuidi – found himself heavily linked to the 20-time English champions. But no-one could match his long-time star client Ibrahimovic in terms of bombast. The former Sweden star made good on his promise of an instant impact in English football, chalking up 28 goals in all competitions. A cruciate knee ligament injury cruelly curtailed Ibrahimovic’s season before United secured Europa League glory to stand alongside the EFL Cup that was sealed by his match-winning brace against Southampton. No matter, Raiola could still claim Ibrahimovic’s knee was in such stunning condition that doctors wished to conduct research on him. Surgeon Volker Musahl dismissed this claim as “a bit of an exaggeration”.
Although still a champion of Balotelli’s talents, Raiola’s frustration with his most enigmatic client has often mirrored those of coaches who have tried to coax the best out of the Italy forward. The 26-year-old received his third red card of the season during Nice’s 1-0 February defeat to Lorient, which left Raiola suggesting an extreme remedy. “I have already found a solution – we are going to cut his tongue out,” he told RMC. Nevertheless, the often wayward former Manchester City and AC Milan star offered indications he could still turn his career around with 15 goals in 23 appearances. After Raiola talked up interest from Borussia Dortmund and Marseille, he signed a one-year contract extension at Nice.
— Mario Balotelli (@FinallyMario) July 4, 2017
Goalkeeping protege Donnarumma might be the best indication that Riaola’s high-profile clients are never too far away from controversy. The 18-year-old Italy international is now reportedly on the verge of signing a contract extension at AC Milan, despite his representative previously telling the Serie A club this would not happen in the face of interest from Real Madrid. Following protests from fans during Italy’s Under-21 match against Denmark, Raiola claimed angry Milan fans were “insulting and threatening” the player’s family. In another twist to the saga, Donnarumma then denied reports he had parted with Raiola.
DONNARAIOLA x HATERS 1-0
— Mino Raiola (@MinoRaiola) June 25, 2017
Like Donnarumma, Juventus striker Kean is one of Serie A’s hottest young properties with his career under Raiola’s charge. Or is he? The 17-year-old striker became the first player born this millennium to feature in Serie A and the Champions League after he broke into Massimiliano Allegri’s squad this season. A last-minute winner at Bologna from Kean on the final day concluded another title-winning campaign for Juve but trouble might be brewing. The player’s father Biorou Kean is unhappy Juventus have not provided him with tractors he claims he is owed as part of the deal to bring his son to Turin. One for Raiola to smooth over? Perhaps not. “Raiola says he’s [Moise’s] agent but I’ve never signed anything,” said Kean senior. ‘I’d have chosen another [agent] if it were up to me.”
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