“My players don’t call me a parasite and I just care what my players call me” – Mino Raiola speaks to Dan Roan
‘Super Agent’ Mino Raiola has become one of the most controversial and influential figures in world football.
His clients include some of the game’s biggest stars, from Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Erling Braut Haaland and Marco Verratti.
With the sport’s unprecedented financial crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic, agents and the huge sums of money they can earn from transfers are under scrutiny.
However, on a series of issues, Raiola promises to challenge the game’s authorities on behalf of its industry.
In a comprehensive and exclusive interview, the Dutch-Italian told BBC Sport:
- He predicted that Dortmund striker Haaland will be “one of the stars of the next decade”.
- Agents’ perception “bothered” him, but “my players don’t call me a parasite”.
- He “didn’t mean to cause a problem” when he said Pogba was unhappy at Manchester United and said: “If I give my opinion, everyone in England will get angry”.
- Agents are preparing to go to court over Fifa’s “ridiculous” plans to regulate their activities
- welcomed the recent withdrawal of proposed player salary caps following a tribunal by the English Football League (EFL), saying it was a “logical victory”.
Haaland is “the star of the new generation”
Erling Braut Haaland has scored 27 goals in all competitions for Borussia Dortmund this season
The best clubs in European football are just around the corner Billion pounds of losses as a result of the Covid crisis, but Raiola rejects the suggestion that top players ‘wages and transfer fees – and therefore agents’ commissions – will suffer.
“I don’t think there’s any connection,” he told BBC Sport from his Monaco office.
“There is always room for exceptional talent.”
One such talent is Borussia Dortmund’s 20-year-old striker Haaland. one of the hottest properties in the gameand under 70 players in Raiola’s books.
The Norwegian joined Dortmund a little over a year ago but was fraught with a major currency exchange this summer and the agent says a variety of Premier League clubs could sign him.
“It is evident that everyone sees Erling as one of those potential new future stars because it is so difficult to do what they are doing at their level at their age,” he said.
“He will be one of the future stars of the next decade as we see stars like Ibrahimovic, Ronaldo and Messi come to an age where everyone is asking, ‘How much longer can we enjoy them?’ So everyone is looking for the new generation.
“A maximum of 10 clubs can afford to buy something [Haaland] and give the platform you want after you’ve been to Dortmund … and four of these clubs are in [England].
“I don’t think there is a sports director or coach in the world who says’ not interested ‘. It’s like saying,’ Is there a Formula 1 team that wouldn’t be interested in Lewis Hamilton? ‘”
Hold back Pogba
Raiola sparked a major backlash in December when he suggested Pogba’s time at Old Trafford just before a crucial Champions League game for Manchester United could be over.
“I just gave an opinion, I didn’t mean to cause a problem,” said Raiola.
“I don’t think it destabilized anyone because they had a fantastic run and even were first in the league for a while.
“You think great players like Paul Pogba – or [Ole Gunnar] Solskjaer, who has won everything in his life – to be destabilized by what Mino Raiola says? Oh come on But I don’t talk about it anymore. It makes life a little bit boring, but it is what it is. “
The outspoken Raiola, who has also represented Belgian striker Romelu Lukaku, Italian striker Mario Balotelli and Dutch center-back Matthijs de Ligt, has met with a number of other managers, including Sir Alex Ferguson, Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp says he has Lessons learned.
He said: “Whenever I speak my mind, everyone in England gets angry and I’m the worst or the best agent … and the clubs get so stressed by the public and journalists that I learned not much about it to talk.” “”
“My job is to get the best deal”
Zlatan Ibrahimovic from AC Milan is one of Raiola’s best-known customers
Claims that Raiola made £ 41 million from Pogba’s World record transfer of £ 89 million from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016 heightened criticism of agents. But he insists that the perception of greed and excess is unfair.
“It’s not nice to hear the same prejudice over and over again,” said Raiola.
“But maybe the public can also think, ‘If this man is so greedy and so bad, how are his players all happy and staying with him?’
“I would be lying if I said I don’t mind … how can you tell if I’m a good agent for Ibrahimovic? The only one who can tell is Ibra himself.
“I have no power or influence … my job is to make the best offer for my player. And nothing more than that. And that means offering him a whole range of services that people don’t even know about.
“My players don’t call me a parasite and that’s what I work for. I just care what my players call me.”
Fight against Fifa for regulations
Fifa brings in new regulations this year, This is where the money agents they receive from their customers are published, commissions are limited, a licensing system and conflicts of interest are combated.
The world governing body of football has stated that the deregulation of agents in 2015 was “a mistake” and aims to combat “abusive and excessive practices”.
Raiola – president of the Football Forum, an organization that represents the interests of leading agents and their players – is vehemently against it.
“We are no longer talking to Fifa,” he criticized the extent to which agents had been consulted about the new proposals.
“I think there will be a lawsuit in the end.
“I have no problem with transparency. There are governments that control us every day, legally and legally.
“We have a problem with people who don’t know how a broadcast works and try to make rules that are ridiculous.”
According to Raiola, the crackdown on agents was “used by Fifa to hide its own problems”.
He said: “Yes, we have to change the world of football, but we want to be part of it, to be respected because it’s our job to represent the players and their interests.
“We’re not saying we’re perfect, but it can’t be regulated by Fifa.
“Nobody sees the player’s interest in it. There is only one interest [in] say, ‘Let’s attack the agents for taking too much money out of the game.’ “
In a statement, Fifa said it had carried out “a very robust consultation process”, including with agent organizations.
The Board of Directors said: “Fifa has seen widespread conflicts of interest and a market driven by speculation rather than solidarity and redistribution in the football pyramid.
“Fifa has a responsibility to address and regulate these issues. We are striving for a system of balanced and sensible regulation rather than the current law of the jungle.”
The Premier League clubs paid out more than £ 263 million to agents last season.
Salary cap ‘Victory’ and scrapping relegation
Raiola was a heavy critic of and praised the salary caps of the English Football League in Leagues 1 and 2 Scrapping them Earlier this month after what he called “logical” decision by an independent arbitration tribunal.
He said, “There are no salary caps for CEOs running large or small businesses, there are no salary caps for actors, there are no salary caps for a Banksy!”
“Why should football players’ talent be limited?”
Raiola insists that deep-rooted problems with the financial sustainability of football existed before the pandemic and that radical ideas should be considered now.
He said: “I want to give the clubs the opportunity [over] the next three years, because of Covid, maybe to find a system where in some countries [they] Say, “Listen, you know what, let’s not get down again” to have a more stable environment for building your reserves.
“In France, Spain and Italy it is a real financial catastrophe when you go under. And that puts the clubs in a stressed position where they may not be able to make a decision about the future, but only in the short term.”
“The whole system has to be considered.
“We’re not there in the football forum to kill clubs. We should try to be more modern and sit down with everyone involved and see where we can help each other.”