Over the past 12 years, Jorge Mendes has been by far the most influential agent in the game, but he seems to have been overtaken in prominence this summer by Mino Raiola. The latter has been more visible in bigger deals over the past two months, especially the potential move of Paul Pogba to Manchester United, home of one of Mendes’ main client, manager Jose Mourinho. Either way, it is impossible to deny that they are the two most dominant representatives in the game right now.
So who would win in a prospective game between their clients?
David De Gea (Mendes) vs. Gianluigi Donnarumma (Raiola)
Milan’s Donnarumma may justifiably be talked of as “the new Gigi Buffon,” but the reality is that even the real Buffon may not be able to challenge De Gea at this point. The Spaniard is up there as one of the best three goalkeepers in the world, if not the very best.
Verdict: De Gea (Mendes)
Nicolas Otamendi (Mendes) vs. Ignazio Abate (Raiola)
The Mendes stable doesn’t have too many top-class full-backs, meaning Otamendi has to fill, but even his performances at centre-half have probably been below Abate’s at right-back over the past season.
Verdict: Abate (Raiola)
Fabio Coentrao (Mendes) vs. Maxwell (Raiola)
Two left-backs who have recently looked past their best, but Maxwell is probably closer to the top level. The Brazilian has been starting for Paris Saint-Germain, whereas Real Madrid have had to loan Coentrao to Monaco.
Verdict: Maxwell (Raiola)
Thiago Silva (Mendes) vs. Bartosz Salamon (Raiola)
As is the case when Silva faces many forwards in the French league, this is no contest. The Cagliari defender didn’t even feature in Poland’s Euro 2016 campaign. Silva is on a different plane.
Verdict: Silva (Mendes)
Pepe (Mendes) vs. Rodrigo Ely (Raiola)
Pepe may be a divisive figure, but there can be no debate here. The European champion with both club and country is way ahead of Milan’s 22-year-old Brazilian.
Verdict: Pepe (Mendes)
Renato Sanches (Mendes) vs. Paul Pogba (Raiola)
A clash that is difficult to call, as we saw in their face-off during the Euro 2016 final. Sanches may have been more influential in that game to inspire Portugal’s eventual victory over the hosts, and certainly had a much better competition, but his career is still too young to say it is better than Pogba’s. Since his arrival to Turin in 2012, the France international has been a key player for Juventus, including the club’s run to the 2015 Champions League final. Similarly, although this is a rather crude measure, their prospective prices do reflect value. If Pogba does go this summer, it could be for up to €60m more than Sanches, regardless of whether Manchester United or Real Madrid buy the Frenchman.
Verdict: Pogba (Raiola)
Angel Di Maria (Mendes) vs. Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Raiola)
Manchester United will get their own perspective on this one now that the Armenian has gone to Old Trafford. Despite Di Maria’s failure at England’s most successful club, it is impossible to deny that the Argentina has had a better career and is a more valuable player. He has been a match-winning player in a Champions League final with Real Madrid in 2014, so that means he wins this duel.
Verdict: Di Maria (Mendes)
Joao Moutinho (Mendes) vs. Blaise Matuidi (Raiola)
An elegant schemer in Moutinho against a powerful runner in Matuidi, but as good as the Portuguese is to watch, the French midfielder seems to have gotten more out of his ability during his career. Matuidi has done more and won more with PSG than Moutinho has with Monaco, and is more wanted at his club. There’s been a slight sense of unfulfilled potential about Moutinho.
Verdict: Matuidi (Raiola)
Diego Costa (Mendes) vs. Romelu Lukaku (Raiola)
Two years ago, this wouldn’t have been much of a decision, especially since Chelsea finally sold Lukaku to Everton in order to fund a summer that saw Costa come in as their main striker. But things have changed. The Belgian’s fine development now sees Everton looking to ward off Chelsea’s interest, as the London club are looking to reinstall the Belgium international as their starting centre-forward. Costa, meanwhile, has been so erratic in that time. Only one of these players looks to be on the up.
Verdict: Lukaku (Raiola)
James Rodriguez (Mendes) vs. Giacomo Bonaventura (Raiola)
Bonaventura is a hugely polished player who has put in fine performances for Milan, all while James has underwhelmed for Real Madrid… but that is relative to the Colombian’s talent. He has mostly underwhelmed because he is so good, and is still on a higher level than Bonaventura. There have also been suggestions that James can get back to his best, even at the Bernabeu, as he recently turned down a move elsewhere.
Verdict: James (Mendes)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Mendes) vs. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Raiola)
The battle between the big stars of the biggest agents. But there’s still quite a big gap between them. Even when Ibrahimovic was closer to his peak as a player in 2013, Ronaldo still out-performed him in the direct face-off that was the 2014 World Cup qualifier between Portugal and Sweden. And this is the thing; Ibrahimovic may have been one of the top 10 players in the world over the past decade, but he has never been close to the level occupied by Ronaldo.
Verdict: Ronaldo (Mendes)
Score: Mendes 6-5 Raiola
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