The high profile football agent Mino Raiola has died at the age of 54 following an illness, according to reports in Italy.
Raiola was the representative of such stars as Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Raiola was hospitalized in Milan back in January and underwent very delicate surgery but the nature of the illness was not revealed.
Reports said at the time the condition wasn’t life-threatening and that Raiola would begin a period of rehabilitation at home.
The multi-lingual football agent worked his way up from humble beginnings working in a pizza restaurant to become one of the most influential figures in the world game, brokering mega-deals involving some of the most prominent players.
He was representative to the likes of Pogba, Haaland, Ibrahimovic, Romelu Lukaku, Mario Balotelli, Marco Verratti and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Forbes estimated last year that Raiola’s personal wealth was in the region of £62m.
It was reported that Raiola earned as much as £20million from the world record £89m sale of Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016.
The high-profile football agent Mino Raiola has died at the age of 54, according to reports
Raiola pictured with the Manchester United and France footballer Paul Pogba (right)
The agent pictured in attendance at a Serie A football match in Italy during last season
It had been shaping up to be a busy summer for Raiola, with Pogba and Haaland among his clients expected to be on the move.
During the early 1990s, Raiola worked for the Sports Promotions, a company in Holland, and assisted with the transfers of several high-profile Dutch players, including Dennis Bergkamp, to Italian clubs.
Raiola studied the methods of his colleagues to learn how to conduct such transfers by himself, making extra photocopies of the vital documents, before striking out to negotiate the move of Czech star Pavel Nedved from Sparta Prague to Lazio in 1996.
Since then, Raiola has overseen numerous Ibrahimovic transfers around Europe, as well as Balotelli’s move from Inter Milan to Man City in 2010 and his subsequent switch to AC Milan.
He famously fell out with United manager Sir Alex Ferguson before Pogba joined Juventus in 2012.
Raiola has overseen some of the most lucrative transfers in world football in recent years
Ferguson was unhappy about the way he feels Raiola unduly influenced the Pogba family to force the 19-year-old player from Old Trafford in 2012.
‘I distrusted him from the moment I met him,’ said the United manager. ‘There are one or two football agents I simply do not like — and Mino Raiola is one of them.
‘We had Paul under a three-year contract and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign. But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco.
‘He and I were like oil and water. From (the first meeting) on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus.’
But by the summer of 2016, he overlooks the moves of three players – Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Mkhitaryan – to Manchester United all in the same window.
Raiola reportedly pocketed £20m from the Pogba deal, allowing him to purchase the former Miami home of notorious American mob boss Al Capone.
More to follow.
The Godfather of Transfers: When Raiola lifted the lid on Pogba’s £89m transfer to Man United to Sportsmail
BY SIMON JONES
You need to have big balls to complete a world record transfer and Jose Mourinho has those balls…
Mino Raiola is telling it straight, as he likes to. ‘It’s not just a case of spending the money,’ he insists. ‘It’s shouldering the responsibility of spending that money and saying, ‘yes, this is my man’. Arsenal have the money but do they have the balls?
‘I respect Arsene Wenger. He has a philosophy that says these figures don’t match what I want to do, so that’s OK. Real Madrid? The will of Zinedine Zidane was strong but we were not sure he was the will of the club.
‘Yet I think Manchester United showed the world this summer that they were not going to stand still, they want to be the best.
‘They sent out a message with the transfers they did that this is the biggest club in the world.’
Raiola is in a T-shirt and jogging pants, standing barefoot on the balcony of a towering new apartment block overlooking Chelsea Harbour. His teenage son is sharing the view.
We are discussing his busy summer as agent to some of the biggest names in football.
This is the man who brokered the world record £89million transfer of Paul Pogba to Manchester United and boasts a client list that includes Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli, Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
He made more than £30m from deals this summer (including about £20m from the Pogba transfer), his players are wanted by the world’s biggest clubs, so what gave Manchester United and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the edge?
‘I always say to my players we go where we are needed. United will always be one of the biggest clubs in the world whether by reputation or balance sheet.
‘Yes, Manchester United had no Champions League and weren’t champions but they needed us the most.
‘United had been talking to us for two years about Pogba,’ confides Raiola.
‘They had taken my player Sergio Romero and we had kept the lines of communication open.
‘We knew we had interest, we spoke to Juventus, they really wanted to try for the Champions League, they gave him the No 10 shirt and we said we would give it one more year.
‘Then I worked on an exit plan. We had two offers from the Premier League and two outside.
‘Paul said United was in his heart, Woodward wanted him at United a year ago and Mourinho had wanted him at Chelsea too, so when the two combined we knew it was right.
‘For the player, Real Madrid would have been easier, La Liga, Champions League, but he wanted the greater challenge.
‘Mkhitaryan was more complicated. We had almost agreed with another Premier League club but Dortmund wouldn’t let him go, then United pushed it over the line.
‘With Zlatan, he fits the Manchester United brand perfectly. He is the personification of fearless and has that winning mentality combined with class.
‘He is 34 but he is the most talked about player in the Premier League. His reunion with Mourinho gives that feeling of ‘we are Manchester United, now come try to f*** us’!’#
Being politically correct is not Raiola’s forte, he has a penchant for being direct, a quality he credits to his Dutch heritage, but rather than the truculent image many perceive, there is a tongue-in-cheek humor to what he delivers.
‘I love in England when you ask someone, ‘how are you?’ They say ‘oh, not so bad, I could be worse.’ What does that mean? I’m Dutch, we say as it is. In Holland we are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s funny.’
Born in Italy, Raiola’s family moved to Holland when he was an infant. His father, a mechanic, re-trained with the help of his grandmother to set up the family restaurant business.
‘I worked hard, I cleaned dishes, waited on tables, I was a bartender but I never baked a pizza in my life — despite what has been written.’
The Italian in him underpins his strong family values and the tight-knit bond with his players. Listed by Forbes magazine as one of the most influential agents in sport, today he is spending valuable time with his son, Mario.
‘It’s nice to see my son,’ says Raiola. ‘When he was little I can recall him looking up at Zlatan in awe.’
He mimics a small boy, mouth agape, slowly looking up at the sky to take in a figurative giant.
‘Zlatan used to drive him around in his Ferrari. I see Mario more now than I used to, I barely saw him growing up, I’d be away.
‘That’s this life, you have to do the work to get here, do the miles. I like to go and talk to the clubs, meet everyone. We all have different methods.’
To illustrate his point, he tells a joke about a man with a stammer who sells more Bibles than his boss by simply threatening to read them to customers unless they buy.
‘The boss says: ‘What’s your secret?’ ‘I r-ring the d-door bell and ss-say: ‘HH-Hello, dd-do you ww-want tt-to buy th-th-this BB-Bible, or dd-do you ww-want m- me t-to READ it ttt-to you?’
His own sales pitch is not for all, though he is quick to explain United’s Manchester derby defeat and criticism of Pogba and Mkhitaryan.
‘It’s true Pogba is not playing his best yet, he is taking time to adjust but people don’t always see the bigger picture. He will dominate for 10 years. He is United’s lost son.
‘Mkhi was the best player in the German league the last two seasons. He has a strong mentality and will be an asset once fully fit.
‘Sometimes it is better to lose because you realize you are not what you thought. I still think United will win the league though as they now have the quality.’