Another lucrative window for Jorge Mendes, ‘Portugal’s Gatekeeper’ | football agents

TThe doors of Club Alfândega remain open, even if one of its previous owners has moved on to a larger stage. Located in downtown Caminha on the Portuguese border with northern Spain, the nightclub’s creation in 1989 was inspired by a trip to Ibiza last summer.

One of its founders, Moraes Vieira, said in an interview with a local newspaper in 2014.

One night at Club Alfândega – which means “customs” in English – famous Jorge Mendes met Nuno Espirito Santo, future Wolves and Tottenham manager, who would become his first major client. Mendes was then a 30-year-old businessman who also ran a video store, but he took the opportunity to meet the young goalkeeper at his part-owned nightclub and quickly emerged as the world’s most powerful agent.

Nuno, after being frustrated in his attempts to leave Vitoria Guimarães, remembers him Interview with the Guardian In 2016, how a plan with Mendes, which included pretending he was drunk in front of then-President of Vitoria, Antonio Pimenta Machado, ended up moving to Deportivo La Coruna. The rest, as the story goes, is history.

The agency, Gestifute, set up by Mendes a few weeks after Nuno’s 1997 move, now has Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho among its clients and is estimated to have negotiated contracts worth well over £1 billion and generated at least £100 million in commissions each year since 2015. In a transfer window that has seen record levels of spending by Premier League clubs, this summer has been particularly lucrative for Mendes despite failing to secure Ronaldo’s coveted exit from Manchester United.

Jorge Mendes with his star client Cristiano Ronaldo at the Awards Gala in Dubai. Photo: Reuters

In June, he earned a healthy commission to oversee Darwin Nunez’s £85m transfer from Benfica to Liverpool – two months after Uruguay sacked his original agent, Edgardo LaSalvia. Mendes was also involved in the £20m transfer of Joao Balenha to Fulham from Sporting Lisbon a few weeks later despite delays following a dispute over payment of agent fees with Spain’s Balenha representative, Hernan Reguera.

According to reports in Portugal, Mendes also took a 10% stake in the €35m deal that transferred Fabio Vieira from Porto to Arsenal, and reduced Vitéña’s €40m transfer from Porto to PSG to make his total commission cold. 13.5 million euros the rest of his wages, Reports saidThis came thanks to an agreement with Porto that in each case if the player is sold for more than 30 million euros, half of the teams will be paid to Mendes.

“In Portugal he is really the gatekeeper – any transfer related to the Big Three is mediated by Jorge Mendes,” says Pepo Russo, a sociologist at the University of Florence who specializes in football. “No one moves without him, especially to the Premier League. This summer was probably the most important of his career as an agent – he’s been in a lot of transfers. He’s really all over the place at the moment.”

The loan of Ruben Vinagri to Everton at the end of July from Sporting was a prime example of how the Mendes network could function. The 23-year-old Portuguese defender – officially represented by Mendes teammate Jorge Perez – spent two stints in the Sporting youth team before joining Monaco in the summer of 2014. Monaco’s owner since 2011, Russian oligarch Dmitri Rybolovlev, is known to be a close ally of Mendes.

Wenger stayed in Monaco for two seasons before being sold to Wolverhampton, where Mendes plays an advisory role and is close to the Chinese club’s owner, Fosun. Wenager’s next stop was Olympiacos, like Nottingham Forest, owned by Evangelos Marinakis. The media mogul and shipping tycoon has a strong relationship with Mendes, who co-loaned Renan Lodi from Atletico Madrid to Forrest last week.

Wenager spent only four months in Greece and left to join Portuguese side Famalicao in January 2021 after making four appearances, due to injuries including. Famalicao owned by Israeli Idan Ofer – another person with close ties to Mendes who is also the largest shareholder in Atlético.

Wenger was on the move again last summer when he returned to Sporting on loan in a deal that included a clause that the Portuguese side pay €10m in return for 50% of their economic rights if they reach the Champions League last 16. After just 18 matches, on July 1, he completed his move permanently to the club where it all began as a teenager. Less than four weeks later, Everton – who named former Wolverhampton recruiting chief Kevin Thelwell as sporting director in February – took Wenger on a season-loan with an option to buy. He has yet to start a Premier League game with Frank Lampard’s struggling side.

“Everton have a good relationship with Mendes and are increasingly influential in the Premier League,” says Russo. “There was a time when it was under the impression that Mendes was losing ground with some of the biggest clubs. But now he has rebuilt his relationship with many of them and is now working to increase his relationships with others, like Paris Saint-Germain. Step by step, he is rebuilding his power network that was influenced by the idea of ​​Football Leaks. and other investigations.