Mino Raiola’s successor as the representative of star players including Erling Haaland and Paul Pogba has revealed that rivals tried to convince the super-agent’s clients to join their agencies on the day he died.
Rafaela Pimenta took over Raiola’s clients after his death last year and revealed on Thursday that she immediately faced a fight to hold on to them.
“We don’t own players, players don’t belong to us,” Pimenta told the Financial Times Business of Football Summit. “The player is a client, sometimes before being a friend.
“We’re here to deliver every day. And if we don’t deliver every day, at any time you can lose a client, a player or a friend. It doesn’t stop. It’s not because now it’s one year later and everything is calm and quiet that no agent will call players.
“They call players all the time. They write, they go on Instagram, that’s part of the game. The day Mino died people were calling players. They were calling players, ‘your agent just died, work with me’.”
She believes sexism played a part in other agents attempting to steal her clients.
“Absolutely [it did],” she said. “I think if Margaret Thatcher would be an agent they would question her. She could run a country but not be a football agent probably. Because in football, many men believe they are the only ones that know. And also many men believe they can use your gender to make you feel insecure. I think they try to demoralise you because you’re a woman.
“Not because they really think you’re worse than they are, they find a weak spot to make you feel bad in a negotiation. I’ve been called names, I’ve been told I know nothing, I don’t care. By club executives, by trainers, by other agents. By player’s friends. There’s always someone to say she’s a woman – what does she know?”
Pimenta also revealed she is constantly making long-term plans for her players, including Haaland.
The Norwegian has been a revelation in the Premier League since signing for Manchester City from Borussia Dortmund for £51.2m last summer; he has scored 33 goals in 33 games and is leading the Premier League top-scorers table.
The 22-year-old signed a contract that does not expire until the end of June 2027 and is valued at around £150m.
“In my agency we try to make a plan,” Pimenta said. “We have to make a plan. We need to have a goal. Maybe we won’t achieve it but if don’t know where we’re going, for sure we don’t get there. Maybe we don’t get there anyhow, but at least we tried. We make plans even if you’re 15 years old. Then we’re not passive about it. We cannot be sitting down and waiting, maybe they will call me because Haaland is so fantastic, waiting for the call.
“The day the market finishes is the day I start visiting clubs to talk about players, to see what may be in the future. We are in February and I have already been to clubs four times this year. There are so many different clubs we can be studying, who’s going to retire, who’s getting old, who’s injured, who’s doing bad. Maybe this will happen there.
“It’s like a chess game and you try to anticipate the next move.”
Pimenta revealed that Haaland chose Manchester City among a long list of interested clubs, including Real Madrid and Barcelona, mainly due to the prospect of working with manager Pep Guardiola and also his family history. His father, Alf-Inge Haaland, played for Manchester City for three years.
“Erling went to City because –you’d have to ask him, but my opinion is that there’s such a history of this family with City. You see pictures of Erling as a baby in the City jersey. So I find it only natural that he would want to experience what his father experienced. And of course very much above that is the fact he wanted to be with Guardiola.”