Football agents are an everyday feature on newspaper back pages, online gossip columns and Twitter buzz.
There are a few footballers out there without one, but most stars in the modern age have agents to deal with contract negotiations, transfer moves and all the legal complexities that come with it.
But how do they end up representing some of the biggest footballers in the world?
Firstly, all football agents must be registered with the Football Association as an intermediary. This involves a number of security checks and good character checks. You can see more information here.
There is also a £500 fee for registration.
Football agents are regularly involved in attending football matches and sporting events to identify talent they can represent and take to the next level. That then gives agents the opportunity to find better deals for their clients.
Contract law is a major part of the role too – while aspiring agents don’t have to be trained in all legal aspects, they need to understand contracts when they’re presented in order to work for an agency. Similarly, it would be handy to have good business knowledge, which can be enhanced by studies of business management or sports management.
Networking is a major part of the role as it allows agents to meet new talent more frequently.
A number of agents eventually move to sports agencies in intern and later full-time positions. A successful group have then gone out on their own once they’ve gathered enough experience and made a book-worth of contacts.
Jorge Mendes is one of the most famous agents in world football. With clients like Cristiano Ronaldo, Bernardo Silva and Fabinho, he has negotiated over $1bn in active contract as of Forbes’ 2020 sports agents list.
He started his agency, Gestifute, in 1996, having previously attempted to forge a professional career as a player. Mendes is Portuguese and has a large clientele of his compatriots.
His first client was former Wolves and Tottenham boss Nuno Espirito Santo. Then a goalkeeper, Mendes – who had worked as a DJ, video shop and night club owner, helped him forge a move from Vitoria Guimaraes to Deportivo La Coruna, where he would win the Copa del Rey despite being a reserve option.
From there, Mendes’ profile grew and in 2003 he brokered Ronaldo’s move from Sporting CP to Manchester United. He also helped the former Real Madrid forward with his return to Old Trafford in 2021.
His success has seen him win the Best Agent of the Year at the Globe Soccer Awards ten times and he was also named Agent of the 21st Century in a 2020 ceremony. However, he is a largely private man and rarely conducts interviews with the media.
Mendes also frequently collaborates with Wolves, owned by the Fosun International conglomerate who have a stake in Gestifute, and gives the club’s officials regular advise.
Mino Raiola was one of the most iconic agents of the 21st century, with his outspoken personality often attracting the eye of the media. With players like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba on his books, the Italian was never far away from a microphone.
As a youngster, Raiola worked in his parents’ pizzeria as a dishwasher and waiter before becoming more of an advisor on the business side, helped by his superior Dutch-language skills in comparison to his father. He got his high school diploma and attended university for two years.
Raiola started as an agent in the Netherlands, helping Dutch players move to Serie A. He then created his own agency and his reputation grew throughout Europe as he became involved with some of the most expensive transfers ever.
His big break came when he was asked by Rob Jansen, a leading agent in the Netherlands, to act as an interpreter during negotiations of Dennis Bergkamp’s move from Ajax to Inter in 1993.
His passion for a quote often saw Raiola engage in verbal jousting with pundits in the media, with old pros like Paul Scholes often bearing the brunt of some public digs.
Raiola, alongside Jorge Mendes and Jonathan Barnett, set up a group named ‘The Football Forum’ with the idea of creating a new international football authority opposed to FIFA.
He died in late April 2022, having had a serious illness since January.
Jonathan Barnett has represented famous sports stars like Lennox Lewis and Brian Lara, but he is more well known in the football world for being Gareth Bale’s agent.
He is the chairman and founder of ICM Stellar Sports, a multi-national sports consultancy. Barnett is second on Forbes’ 2020 lists of sports agents.
Barnett grew up in west London and started working as an employee of Curzon House Group, which was a casino business owned by his family.
Since moving into the football world, Barnett has consistently been called the game’s best agent. He is perhaps most well known for his persistent defence of Wales star Bale, who was often the target of speculation during his time at Real Madrid.
Agents make all sorts of different sums of cash for taking part in contract negotiations and sponsorship deals, so it’s tough to put an exact figure on how much they earn. They can make commission of up to 25% on some sponsorship deals their clients receive, but there is no set salary.
However, some of the most successful agents have earned ungodly amounts of money. Jorge Mendes’ net worth has been reported to be around the $100m mark,