Mino Raiola, a football super agent who represented players such as Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and Kevin Haaland, died of sickness at the age of 54, just days after writing a furious farewell tweet insisting he was already dead.
Mino Raiola, a well-known super agent, died at the age of 54 after a long illness, according to his family.
It comes after Raiola, who represents players including Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, was compelled to resort to social media in a furious farewell tweet while fighting for his life in hospital to refute claims he died on Thursday.
‘In immeasurable grief, we share the passing of the most loving and great football agent there ever was,’ his family stated in a statement posted just 48 hours later on Saturday.
‘Mino fought till the end with the same zeal he used to defend our players at the negotiating tables. Mino, as always, made us proud without even realizing it.
‘Mino’s work had such an impact on so many people, and he helped to write a new chapter in the history of modern football. His presence will be missed for the rest of time.
‘Mino’s objective to make football a better environment for players will be carried on with the same zeal.’
Raiola – who also represents Marco Verratti, Matthijs de Ligt and Gianluigi Donnarumma – was previously in hospital at the start of 2022 due to an undisclosed issue.
Raiola had very delicate surgery in January but the nature of the illness was not specified.
Reports said at the time the condition was not life-threatening and Raiola would begin a period of rehabilitation at home – only for him to return to intensive care in recent weeks.
There were then reports on Thursday in Italy that he had passed away, but some of his industry colleagues were left confused by the reports, having been in contact with the 54-year-old, and it soon emerged they were premature.
Borussia Dortmund forward Erling Haaland is one of Raiola’s clients set to be on the move
Raiola’s right-hand man Jose Fortes Rodriguez told Dutch TV: ‘He is in a bad position, but he hasn’t died.’
The super agent, in hospital in Milan, then wrote on Twitter: ‘Current health status for the ones wondering: p****d off second time in 4 months they kill me. Seem also able to resuscitate.’
MINO RAIOLA’S STABLE OF STARS
Matthijs de Ligt
However, barely two days later the death of someone who went from working in a pizza restaurant to becoming one of the most influential figures in the world game, brokering mega-deals in the process, has now been confirmed.
Forbes estimated last year that Raiola’s personal wealth was in the region of £62m.
It was reported that Raiola earned as much as £20million from the world record £89m sale of Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United in 2016.
The summer transfer window move was also shaping up to be yet another busy period for Raiola, with France World Cup winner Pogba and Norway striker Haaland expected to leave Man United and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
Raiola’s journey to super agent began in the early 1990s when worked for the Sports Promotions, a company in Holland.
He assisted with the transfers of several high-profile Dutch players, including ex-Arsenal star Dennis Bergkamp, to Italian clubs.
Raiola studied colleagues’ methods to learn how to conduct transfers on his own, making extra photocopies of the vital documents.
He then went on to negotiate Czech star Pavel Nedved’s move from Sparta Prague to Lazio in 1996.
Since then, Raiola has overseen Ibrahimovic’s transfers around Europe – including to Barcelona, PSG and Manchester United – as well as Italy forward Mario Balotelli’s move from Inter Milan to Man City in 2010 and his subsequent switch to AC Milan.
Raiola famously had a falling out with Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson before Pogba joined Juventus in 2012.
Ferguson was furious about the way he feels Raiola unduly influenced the Frenchman’s family to force a player who was only 19 at the time to depart Old Trafford.
Raiola has overseen some of the most lucrative transfers in world football in recent years
‘I distrusted him from the moment I met him,’ said the United manager. ‘There are one or two football agents I simply do not like — and Mino Raiola is one of them.
‘We had Paul under a three-year contract and it had a one-year renewal option which we were eager to sign. But Raiola suddenly appeared on the scene and our first meeting was a fiasco.
‘He and I were like oil and water. From (the first meeting) on, our goose was cooked because Raiola had been able to ingratiate himself with Paul and his family and the player signed with Juventus.’
But in the summer of 2016, he oversaw the moves of three of his clients – Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – to Old Trafford all in the same window, three years after Fergsuson’s departure.
Raiola reportedly pocketed £20m from the Pogba deal, allowing him to purchase the former Miami home of notorious American mob boss Al Capone.
The Italian also hit out at Jurgen Klopp back in 2016 over the German boss’ treatment of Balotelli, who was at Liverpool at the time.
The Godfather of Transfers: When Raiola lifted the lid on Pogba’s £89m transfer to Man United to Sportsmail in 2016
You need to have big balls to complete a world record transfer and Jose Mourinho has those balls…
Mino Raiola is telling it straight, as he likes to. ‘It’s not just a case of spending the money,’ he insists. ‘It’s shouldering the responsibility of spending that money and saying, ‘yes, this is my man’. Arsenal have the money but do they have the balls?
‘I respect Arsene Wenger. He has a philosophy that says these figures don’t match what I want to do, so that’s OK. Real Madrid? The will of Zinedine Zidane was strong but we were not sure it was the will of the club.
‘Yet I think Manchester United showed the world this summer that they were not going to stand still, they want to be the best.
‘They sent out a message with the transfers they did that this is the biggest club in the world.’
Raiola pictured alongside his long-standing client Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the 2018 World Cup
Raiola is in a T-shirt and jogging pants, standing barefoot on the balcony of a towering new apartment block overlooking Chelsea Harbour. His teenage son is sharing the view.
We are discussing his busy summer as agent to some of the biggest names in football.
This is the man who brokered the world record £89million transfer of Paul Pogba to Manchester United and boasts a client list that includes Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli, Romelu Lukaku and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
He made more than £30m from deals this summer (including about £20m from the Pogba transfer), his players are wanted by the world’s biggest clubs, so what gave Manchester United and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward the edge?
‘I always say to my players we go where we are needed. United will always be one of the biggest clubs in the world whether by reputation or balance sheet.
‘Yes, Manchester United had no Champions League and weren’t champions but they needed us the most.
Raiola didn’t see eye-to-eye with former Man United manager Sir Alex Ferguson over Pogba
‘United had been talking to us for two years about Pogba,’ confides Raiola.
‘They had taken my player Sergio Romero and we had kept the lines of communication open.
‘We knew we had interest, we spoke to Juventus, they really wanted to try for the Champions League, they gave him the No 10 shirt and we said we would give it one more year.
‘Then I worked on an exit plan. We had two offers from the Premier League and two outside.
‘Paul said United was in his heart, Woodward wanted him at United a year ago and Mourinho had wanted him at Chelsea too, so when the two combined we knew it was right.
‘For the player, Real Madrid would have been easier, La Liga, Champions League, but he wanted the greater challenge.
Manchester United flop Paul Pogba is likely to be on the move again in the summer window
‘Mkhitaryan was more complicated. We had almost agreed with another Premier League club but Dortmund wouldn’t let him go, then United pushed it over the line.
‘With Zlatan, he fits the Manchester United brand perfectly. He is the personification of fearless and has that winning mentality combined with class.
‘He is 34 but he is the most talked about player in the Premier League. His reunion with Mourinho gives that feeling of ‘we are Manchester United, now come try to f*** us’!’
Being politically correct is not Raiola’s forte, he has a penchant for being direct, a quality he credits to his Dutch heritage, but rather than the truculent image many perceive, there is a tongue-in-cheek humour to what he delivers.
‘I love in England when you ask someone, ‘how are you?’ They say ‘oh, not so bad, I could be worse.’ What does that mean? I’m Dutch, we say as it is. In Holland we are either ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s funny.’
Raiola, who speaks several languages, has brokered some of football’s biggest transfers
Born in Italy, Raiola’s family moved to Holland when he was an infant. His father, a mechanic, re-trained with the help of his grandmother to set up the family restaurant business.
‘I worked hard, I cleaned dishes, waited on tables, I was a barman but I never baked a pizza in my life — despite what has been written.’
The Italian in him underpins his strong family values and the tight-knit bond with his players. Listed by Forbes magazine as one of the most influential agents in sport, today he is spending valuable time with his son, Mario.
‘It’s nice to see my son,’ says Raiola. ‘When he was little I can recall him looking up at Zlatan in awe.’
He mimics a small boy, mouth agape, slowly looking up at the sky to take in a figurative giant.
‘Zlatan used to drive him around in his Ferrari. I see Mario more now than I used to, I barely saw him growing up, I’d be away.
‘That’s this life, you have to do the work to get here, do the miles. I like to go and talk to the clubs, meet everyone. We all have different methods.’
To illustrate his point, he tells a joke about a man with a stammer who sells more Bibles than his boss by simply threatening to read them to customers unless they buy.
RAIOLA’S BACK STORY
Mino Raiola was born in the south of Italy before moving to Holland as an infant as his parents made a living from a sandwich shop, then a pizzeria, and later an upmarket restaurant.
He made his first move in the world of football administration when, as a 25-year-old, his company Intermezzo helped facilitate Holland international Bryan Roy’s transfer from Ajax to Foggia.
Raiola, who moved to Foggia to live with Roy for seven months, became close with Foggia manager Zdenek Zeman and soon began to build up contacts in Czech Republic.
In 1996, with Raiola quickly becoming a rising star in the agent world in Italy, negotiated Pavel Nedved’s move from Sparta Prague to Lazio, then managed by close friend Zeman.
Slowly but surely the Dutch-Italian agent became a key player and it was an encounter with Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2001, then at Ajax, that had a lasting impact on both of them.
They had dinner together in a Japanese restaurant in Amsterdam and Ibrahimovic quickly pushed for Raiola to become his agent.
Raiola’s client base has sky-rocketed since then with household names such as Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland, Matthjis de Ligt and Henrikh Mkhitaryan among his stable.
In August 2016, it was Raiola who negotiated the £89million world record transfer of Pogba to Manchester United.
Raiola reportedly £20m from the Pogba deal, allowing him to purchase the former Miami home of notorious American mob boss Al Capone.
In 2019, Raiola was victorious in Italy’s Federal Court of Appeal after FIFA’s Disciplinary Committee ratified a three-month ban from the Italian Football Federation due to ‘undisclosed reasons’.
‘The boss says: ‘What’s your secret?’ ‘I r-ring the d-door bell and s-s-say: ‘H-H-Hello, d-d-do you w-w-want t-t-to buy th-th-this B-B-Bible, or d-d-do you w-w-want m-me t-to READ it t-t-t-to you?’
His own sales pitch is not for all, though he is quick to explain United’s Manchester derby defeat and criticism of Pogba and Mkhitaryan.
‘It’s true Pogba is not playing his best yet, he is taking time to adjust but people don’t always see the bigger picture. He will dominate for 10 years. He is United’s lost son.
‘Mkhi was the best player in the German league the last two seasons. He has a strong mentality and will be an asset once fully fit.
‘Sometimes it is better to lose because you realise you are not what you thought. I still think United will win the league though as they now have the quality.