Mino Raiola, the agent who represented some of football’s most high-profile players, has died at the age of 54.
The Dutch-Italian’s stable of players included Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland, Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba and AC Milan forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Raiola was also president of the Football Forum, which represented leading agents and their players.
“His presence will be forever missed,” the Raiola family said in a statement.
It read: “In infinite sorrow, we share the passing of the most caring and amazing football agent that ever was.
“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 realised it.
“Mino touched so many lives through his work and wrote a new chapter in the history of modern football.”
The statement added: “Mino’s mission of making football a better place for players will continue with the same passion.
“We thank everybody for the huge amount of support received during these difficult times and ask for respect to the privacy of family and friends in this moment of grief.”
Norway striker Haaland, one of Raiola’s most coveted clients, is close to agreeing a move to Manchester City.
Raiola, who also represented Italy internationals Mario Balotelli and Gianluigi Donnarumma and Netherlands centre-back Matthijs de Ligt, was a controversial and influential figure in world football.
He had been involved run-ins with a series of managers, including former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, but told BBC sports editor Dan Roan in 2021 that he had learned lessons from situations he had been involved in.
There were claims that Raiola earned £41m from Pogba’s then world-record £89m transfer from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016 and, while that intensified criticism of agents, Raiola insisted the perception of greed and excess was unfair.
“It’s not nice always to hear this same preconception,” Raiola said last year.
“But maybe the public can also think: ‘If this man is so greedy and so bad, how are his players all happy and stay with him?’
“I would be lying if I said it didn’t bother me… how can you judge if I was a good agent for Ibrahimovic? The only one who can judge that is Ibra himself.
“I don’t have power and influence… my job is to get the best deal done for my player. And no more than that. And doing that is to provide him with a whole range of services that people don’t even know.
“My players don’t call me a parasite, and that’s who I work for. I only care what my players call me.”
Raiola had also spoken of his opposition to Fifa – world football’s governing body – bringing in new regulations for agents.
Raiola’s three biggest deals
1. Paul Pogba – Juventus to Manchester United – £89m – 2016
This transfer, taking France midfielder Pogba back to Old Trafford, was a world record at the time.
2. Romelu Lukaku – Everton to Manchester United – £75m – 2017
Belgium striker Lukaku split with Raiola in April 2018 and is now represented Federico Pastorello, who conducted his subsequent transfers to Inter Milan and back to former club Chelsea.
3. Matthijs de Ligt – Ajax to Juventus – £67.5m – 2019
De Ligt led Ajax to the Champions League semi-finals in 2018-19, winning the Golden Boy award for the best under-21 player in Europe that season, before joining Juventus.
‘Charismatic and completely unapologetic’
BBC Sport’s Simon Stone
I was once chatting about Mino Raiola with an executive at a club who was having a difficult time with the charismatic agent. “He is a nightmare,” the executive reflected. “But if I ever needed someone to negotiate a pay rise for me, I would want him to do it.”
That was the thing with Raiola. Never afraid of confrontation, completely unapologetic about the vast amounts of money he earned.
To Raiola, the ends justified the means. If that meant playing hardball or delivering a few home truths, as he did to Manchester United on a number of occasions, so be it.
His list of clients was legendary. Ibrahimovic, Pogba, Donnarumma, De Ligt, Haaland – and that is just a handful. Raiola, sadly, won’t be there in the final stages but when, as everyone expects, Haaland joins Manchester City in the deal of this summer, the deal will have Raiola’s fingerprints all over it.
I last encountered him at Barnet of all places, at an agents’ conference he attended with fellow big hitters Jorge Mendes and Jonathan Barnett. As they held court outside the stadium, it was impossible not to think about the size of the deals these men had been involved in.