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Announced dead, football mega-agent Mino Raiola in critical condition – Liberation

Nicknamed the “Donald Trump of football”, the Italian-Dutch who is among the representatives of the most important and controversial players in the round ball, would be between life and death.

Pogba, Ibrahimovic, Verratti… The list of football players he represents is as long as it is prestigious. Mino Raiola, 54, is in a critical situation on Thursday, according to doctors at San Raffaele Hospital in Milan. The Italian press had even announced his death for a time, before José Fortes Rodriguez, a very close friend of the agent, denied the news a few tens of minutes later.

Mino Raiola’s Twitter account – without it being possible to know if it was he or a loved one who wrote – took on the task of extinguishing the rumor of his death, with a message in his still flamboyant style: “Current state of health for those who are wondering: this is the second time they have killed me in four months. I also seem able to resurrect”. He had notably been hospitalized in emergency last January in Milan (Italy).

Raiola is one of the most influential agents in the world of football. One of the few to be interviewed as a player, managing around thirty footballers with two people around him, his lawyer and his youth recruiter, as well as two other advisers in parallel.

Since the 1990s, he has built up a gargantuan portfolio of players, becoming one of the essential negotiators on the football planet. He seduces his players by defending them tooth and nail, and comparing them to the Mona Lisa, an expression he used both for Balotelli and for “Ibra”, in order to justify their value.

In negotiations, he has long applied the method of Inspector Colombo: not to look formidable, and finally get what he wants for his players. For example, he appeared in Barcelona with a Sweden jersey flocked “Ibrahimovic”. All this without a written contract, at the trust. “The agents who sign contracts with the players are the ones who are afraid of losing them”likes to say the person concerned.

«Donald Trump du football»

An Italian immigrant, who arrived in the Netherlands for a year, he lets it be said that he was a former pizza maker, he who only worked for a while in the “Napoli” restaurant opened by his father in Haarlem. At 22, he worked in the Haarlem football club, as a trainer then sports director, before setting up a company of agents. His first transfer was that of the Dutchman Bryan Roy, in 1992 from Ajax to Foggia, then coached by the Czech Zdenek Zeman, and his first masterstroke was the sale of the Dutchman Dennis Bergkamp to Inter Milan (1993).

The truculent agent chained the big hits in the 2000s. The arrival of the future golden ball Pavel Nedved at Juventus is him, the tour of Europe of Ibrahimovic is still him, just like the record transfer of Pogba in 2016. It is precisely the management of the rights to the image of this player which is pinned in the “Football Leaks”, investigation of a consortium of twelve European media. According to the charges at the time, Raiola would have transferred these image rights to “an offshore shell», in Jersey, an Anglo-Norman island with advantageous taxation. Raiola has always swept away information “imaginary, inaccurate or in any case distorted».

And prefers to display his success without complex. In 2016, Raiola was in the top 10 best-paid sports agents, according to a ranking by Forbes magazine, with revenues of 35 million dollars, out of the 356 million negotiated in the contracts of its players. “He’s the Donald Trump of football, a loudmouth who knows how to sell himself and who has managed to build his own buildings, then told Gaël Mahé, the founder of the Sport GM agency, who was the first representative of Paul Pogba. Each of its players is almost the value of a building in Manhattan.»

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