Sunday 17 December 2017

Superagent Mino Raiola slates Jurgen Klopp again and answers questions on the outrageous Paul Pogba deal

Tom Rooney

He has frequently been described as one of the greatest wielders of power and influence in the global game, but Mino Raiola believes himself to be nothing more than a loyal subject in the service of his players, albeit an outrageously moneyed one.

Unless situated beneath a gargantuan rock or, perhaps, having zero interest in the beautiful game, it would have been nigh on impossible not to have heard or read the name Mino Raiola on all too frequent an occasion this summer.

For those not acquainted with the inner workings of the economics of football, Manchester United’s protracted tilt to acquire Paul Pogba from Juventus may well have been the first time the Italian-born Dutch agent entered their psyche.

Of course, he was positioned at the epicentre of United’s capture of Pogba for a world record fee of £89m. Ironically, having facilitated the Frenchmen’s move to Turin on a free just four years ago. It was then that Raiola made a lifelong enemy of Alex Ferguson.

Currently, however, his relationship with the club certainly appears to be going swimmingly. Prior to Pogba’s arrival, he also brokered the moves of Henrik Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimović to Old Trafford.

All told, he is said to have pocketed £32m in fees from the trio of transfers. Not a bad summer’s work.

More recently, Raiola has made headlines for branding Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp a ‘piece of shi*’ for the treatment of Mario Balotelli, who last week left Anfield on a free transfer to Nice.

Mario Balotelli's ill-fated spell at Liverpool is over after completing a move to Nice.

Speaking to talkSport this morning, the 48-year-old once again took aim at the German coach.

“At the end of the day he (Balotelli) was a player of Liverpool and you need to treat him with respect - and he (Klopp) didn't do that.

"Mario asked several times to have a friendly match. You can train all you want but, at the end of the day, you need 90 minutes, you need a friendly. He never considered him for 60 days.

"I’m not judging him as a trainer - I don't like him as a trainer at all - but you have to let him play.”

He didn’t finish there either. If less cavalier men would be worried about losing potential business from the Merseyside outfit, Raiola certainly wasn’t. Far from it, in fact.

“I don’t need to go to Klopp to do business. If Klopp wants a player that I represent and he wants to talk to me, good. If he doesn't want to talk to me then I can say to my player: 'he doesn’t want to talk to me, you can choose another agent or go with a lawyer'.

“I will never be standing in the middle of the interest of my player but it doesn't mean I have to shut up when I see things are not being done in a good way.

"I have no problem to talk to Liverpool tomorrow and offer them one of my players. If I have to be afraid of speaking my mind because I lose a deal, then I lose my powers. I'd rather go walking through life than living on my knees."

Paul Pogba's return to Manchester United was the most eye-catching transfer of the summer

In less impassioned moments, Raiola touched on the intricacies of making Paul Pogba the world’s most expensive footballer and, simultaneously, sating the needs of all the relevant players.

Yet, for all his candour, Raiola was decidedly coy when asked to confirm the exact windfall he received from Manchester United over the last three months. That being said, he didn’t have the temerity to deny his vertiginous station.

“The Paul Pogba deal was a deal we were working on already for maybe over a year. It’s a complex deal because it involves a lot of parties, high stake rights and it is difficult to get it over the line.

“But I work for the player, and that’s always very clear, and I try to do what is in the interest of the player and what are his ambitions, and I try to always keep that in mind.

“I think the content of the deal is private for the club and the player. If they want to disclose that, I have no problem at all. But I am in service of my player, and it would be like if your lawyer went on air and said what the settlement was with you and your wife.

“I am not an unlucky guy, I have a fantastic life and I am lucky to be serving big players, small players but to be in an industry that is very exciting.”

Ibrahimovic will celebrate his 35th birthday in October

With the surfeit of TV money now permeating the Premier League, it’s vastly enriched contenders surpassed the £1bn mark in transfer fees this summer, a state of affairs described as scary by Arsene Wenger.

Raiola believes that the saturation point is still a along way off and, in the not too distant future, the first £200m player will be purchased.

"I knew three or four years ago that Italy was finished, and that the two leagues that would be dominating the world for the next four or five years are the Premier League and the German league, actually.

"The German league is also very strong but in a different way. But the Premier League, with the new finance boys of China, will give it another boost. So I knew the top guns would be in the Premier League and that’s why also with Zlatan (Ibrahimovic), we knew the next step would be in the Premier League.

"How the economy is evolving, especially in the Premier league, in the next three or four years we will have a £200m player. Probably a Brazilian, because they add something special, but the new Neymar or Messi will make £200m."

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