In 2017, when Sir Alex Ferguson, who had allowed a 19-year old Paul Pogba to leave Manchester United for Juventus in 2012, was asked, ‘Why was no one able to acknowledge the undeniable talent that is Paul Pogba?’, the managerial legend replied, ‘He just had a bad agent. A s***bag.’
The Scotsman’s contempt for Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, is well known, but now the clip of his ‘s***bag’ remark has resurfaced on Twitter, it goes to show how Raiola will dominate another United pre-season.
Raiola will once again revel in being an instrumental part of United’s transfer dealings this summer, pulling all the strings to force through the best deal for his client and himself. Pogba had used a promotional adidas event in Tokyo to suggest that it would now be ‘a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else’, a comment described as a ‘typical Mino Raiola move’ to fire the starting pistol on the race to sign the Frenchman.
Raiola will strategically hustle around, playing the various parties off against each other to eventually secure what he and Pogba want, a move to Real Madrid, whilst also boosting his own bank account in the process.
Romelu Lukaku, who also wants to leave Old Trafford, switched agents from Raiola to Federico Pastorello earlier this year, which United will be grateful for, as two of the last three summers has seen Raiola being the central figure in United’s transfer dealings, which whether they like it or not, it’s about to become three summers out of four.
In a 2016 interview Raiola said that he had identified what United’s lack of direction was in the summer of 2015 after they had signed Anthony Martial and Memphis Depay. He told United that they had to put it right with ‘a guy like Zlatan to restore the balance.’
Zlatan Ibrahimović duly arrived in the summer of 2016, which coincided with the appointment of Jose Mourinho to replace Louis van Gaal as manager. Mourinho had clashed with Raiola during his time in charge of Inter Milan, but in his first summer at Old Trafford Mourinho had come to depend on Raiola to help him rebuild a squad.
United had to pay a world record fee of £89m to secure Pogba, but they needed a figure like that to kick-start a new era under Mourinho. Despite interest from Real Madrid too, it was a Football Leaks story that revealed Raiola’s share of the £89m Pogba fee was an eye-watering £41m. Raiola would have made it clear to Pogba at the time that Real would still be interested three years down the line, and he would be proved correct.
Raiola continues to loom large over United and their transfer dealings, and events of the past few summers have made them look naive and gullible, spending huge sums of money for little reward.
Although current manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, recently announced in an interview that, ‘We are Man United, and we don’t have to sell. It’s business as usual’, for Mino Raiola, it is business as usual as well.