Mino Raiola is one of the world’s most powerful football agents with a net worth of £28 million in 2018. His wealth was mainly accumulated from working with high-profile clients that include Pogba, Lukaku, Balotelli, Ibrahimovic and Mkhitaryan. He helps manage the careers of the top footballing talent in Europe, currently his rooster of players is worth a staggering £310 million! Raiola is a controversial, outspoken character who is consistently making the headlines.
So how did this guy go from working in a family pizzeria to brokering multi-million transfer deals? It all started when he was one year old, his family moved from Italy to the Netherlands and opened a small restaurant. Raiola got involved in the family restaurant at a young age and played a key part in running the business despite only being a teenager. By the time he was 16 years old, he had been already negotiating deals with banks. Later Raiola started his own company, Intermezzo, a very niche business that helped Italian businesses in the Netherlands. At just 19, he made his first million buying and later selling a McDonald’s franchise to a real estate developer.
Raiola also played for FC Haarlem’s youth team, he quickly realised he was more talented off the pitch. He became FC Haarlem’s sporting director but soon left after falling out with the board over a failed attempt to sign future Gunner, Dennis Bergkamp. Once he resigned as sporting director, Raiola started working with a well-known agency called Sports Promotions. At the beginning he was working as an interpreter, helping Bergkamp seal his move to Inter Milan, then helping other Dutch players move to the Serie A. During the mid-1990’s he started his own agency and signed Pavel Nedved, a highly sought after player because of his exploits at Euro 96. Nedved moved from Sparta Prague to Lazio with Raiola brokering the deal. This was an important deal that really helped him develop a reputation as of the top agents in Europe.
In 2001, he met with a young Zlatan Ibrahimovic at a posh Amsterdam restaurant. Ibrahimovic was smartly dressed in a black suit while Mino was wearing a Nike t-shirt and a hoodie. At that meeting, he persuaded Zlatan to help guide his career, providing evidence of how far he was behind other players. Signing Zlatan was a big recruit and the two formed a strong friendship. Mino likes to have a strong relationships with every client, especially players that can make his big commissions. For his younger clients he acts as a father figure. When a fire broke out in Mario Balotelli’s house, the first person Balotelli rang wasn’t the fire-brigade, it was Raiola.
When Raiola first began managing Paul Pogba, he was still a young upcoming prospect, nowhere near his full potential. He demanded that Man United offer his client Pogba, a bigger contract. Ferguson hated Raiola from the start, even calling him a “twat” at one stage and blatantly refused to offer Pogba an improved contract. Later Pogba’s contract expired, and he joined Juventus on a free transfer. Roughly four years later he rejoined Man United for a world record fee with Raiola earning himself a reported sum of £41 million in commission.
Despite his negative reputation as a money-grabbing parasite, it’s obvious that Raiola does a great job for his players and doesn’t care about the opinions of others. It will be interesting to see how many more big-money transfers he will complete in 2018!