Mino Raiola, the agent of players including Paul Pogba and Erling Haaland, has died aged 54 after living with a serious illness since January.
Dr Alberto Zangrillo, from San Raffaele hospital in Milan, told the news agency Ansa on Thursday that Raiola was “fighting to survive”. He spoke after multiple reports that Raiola had died, which prompted a post from his official Twitter account to state that he was still alive.
However, on Saturday afternoon, a family statement on the account confirmed Raiola’s death, although no timeline or cause of death was given. “In infinite sorrow we share the passing of the most caring and amazing football agent there ever was,” it read. “Mino fought until the end with the same strength he put on negotiation tables to defend our players. As usual, Mino made us proud and never realized it.
“Mino touched so many lives through his work and wrote a new chapter in the history of modern football. His presence will forever be missed. Mino’s mission of making football a better place for players will continue with the same passion.”
The Italy-born Dutch national was one of football’s most powerful and high-earning agents after almost three decades in the job. His other clients have included Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Matthijs de Ligt and Mario Balotelli.
Pogba and Haaland are expected to make two of this summer’s most significant transfers, with Pogba available on a free when his contract at Manchester United ends and Haaland poised to leave Borussia Dortmund. Manchester City intends to sign the Norway striker.
Raiola, who spoke Italian, Dutch, English, French, German, Spanish and Portuguese, was born in Italy but moved to the Dutch city of Haarlem with his family as a baby and worked there in the family pizzeria as a boy.
Raiola later looked after the restaurant’s books, studied law and became a director at the local football club. He wanted to be a football agent, though, and his break came when he was asked by Rob Jansen, one of the leading agents in the Netherlands, to help as an interpreter on Dennis Bergkamp’s transfer from Ajax to Internazionale in 1993. Raiola was given a job at Jansen’s company but walked out to set up on his own.
He oversaw Pogba’s then world-record £93.2m transfer to United from Juventus in 2016. His outspoken nature was exemplified in 2020 when he criticized United’s then manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjær, for his treatment of Pogba. Raiola said he regarded Pogba not as a client but as family.
Raiola earlier fell out with Sir Alex Ferguson and said in an interview for one of Ibrahimovic’s autobiographies that he found a kindred spirit in the Swede: “I realized straight away that he was an arrogant bastard – in other words, just like me.” Raiola was fiercely critical of Fifa proposals to cap the money agents could make from transfers.