Mino Raiola: Agent to the stars
When it comes to super agents in the modern game, two men stand out: Jorge Mendes and Mino Raiola.
For many years, Mendes was top of the tree, with clients such as Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho.
In recent times, especially with regards to the English transfer market, though, Dutch-Italian Mino Raiola has come to the fore.
Raiola represents a number of major footballers, including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and, most crucially of late, Matthijs de Ligt.
Matthijs de Ligt emerges as a world star
The recent campaign was not Matthijs de Ligt’s breakout season. After all, he played for Holland at the tender age of 17.
But, for de Ligt and his Ajax teammates, it was a very successful one. Ajax finally won the Eredivisie again.
They also made it a domestic double, seeing off Willem II in the KNVB Beker final.
And, Ajax came within seconds of reaching the Champions League final. Whilst they did lose to Tottenham on away goals, they made their mark in European football by beating Spurs, Juventus and Real Madrid in their run to the semi-finals.
De Ligt was the rock at the back for Ajax, scoring some crucial goals as well, including the winner against Juventus and opening goal in the second-leg of the Champions League semi-finals.
This weekend, de Ligt has been linked heavily with Manchester United.
Matthijs de Ligt Manchester United rumours shut down, almost as quickly as they arrive
There is little doubt that Manchester United need defensive reinforcements, so when the rumours from the Catalan press began over the weekend, you could forgive Red Devils supporters for their excitement.
After all, de Ligt is a player that Manchester United could realistically build their team around for the next decade.
However, virtually as soon as they emerged, the transfer rumours were nixed, with Manchester United looking to distance themselves from a move for the Ajax captain.
Which is where Mino Raiola comes in…
The Manchester Evening News warn Manchester United fans
On Monday, the Manchester Evening News warn Manchester United supporters about the transfer game being played by de Ligt and his agent Mino Raiola:
“It’s become a familiar scenario over the years where players and their agents have used United’s interest to broker a better deal with the club they’re either at or want to go to.
Sergio Ramos, Neymar, Dani Alves and Cristiano Ronaldo, the list goes on of the players who have used United as a pawn in their transfer strategy and the man behind the current De Ligt negotiations is a master of the dark arts when it comes to getting the best for his clients…
United know what they’re getting themselves into with Raiola. He’s a tough negotiator and they’ve already seen the damage that’s had with Paul Pogba at the club as he openly touts him out to United’s European rivals…
De Ligt and Raiola know the 19-year-old’s stock couldn’t be any higher and it’s likely they’ll intend to use that to the best of their advantage before he’s announced as a Barcelona player ahead of the next campaign and United will be aware they’re likely just another pawn in a Raiola game.”
The Manchester Evening News claim that de Ligt and Raiola are looking for a weekly pay package of £350,000.
Whether Barcelona will stretch to these numbers looks like being one of the transfer stories of the summer.
Meanwhile, Manchester United supporters will likely be fearing that the way Raiola is using the Red Devils currently, does not bode well for the future of Paul Pogba…