Football Features

Mino Raiola clients: Combined XI of the best players at super agent’s disposal

By Harry Edwards

Published: 17:35, 8 January 2020

If you asked any football fan to name an agent, chances are they’ll go for Mino Raiola.

There may not be a more well-known agent in the sport right now, with the Italian-born Dutchman boasting some of the world’s best players among his clientele, including Czech Republic legend Pavel Nedved during his playing days.

He was also instrumental in Matthijs de Ligt’s move from Ajax to Juventus in the summer, though he’s not the Dutch centre-back’s official agent.

More recently, Raiola has added Manchester United midfielder Jesse Lingard to his portfolio — a move that has reportedly not gone down well at the club due to the agent’s criticism of the Red Devils.

Lingard experienced a tough 2019, failing to score or record an assist for Manchester United and the midfielder has been linked with a move away from the club, potentially why he has turned to Raiola.

But would Lingard get into a combined XI of Raiola’s best active clients?

Goalkeeper: Gianluigi Donnarumma

Age: 20

Club: AC Milan

The second-youngest goalkeeper to ever debut in Serie A, doing so for AC Milan aged 16 years and 242 days on October 25, 2015, Gianluigi Donnarumma was quickly being tipped for greatness. A few years later, the hype has quietened a bit and the Italian has been subject to criticism, particularly for his relationship with Raiola, and aims to leave Milan. However, his promise is still very high and at 20, there is still so much to come from the goalkeeper whether it be in Milan or elsewhere.

Right-back: Kenny Tete

Age: 24

Club: Lyon

Kenny Tete will never be a headline maker but the Netherlands international is a very competent right-back who offers solidity both in defence and attack. The 24-year-old came through the academy at Ajax and had been linked with moves to both the Premier League and Serie A before joining Lyon in 2017. He hasn’t had the best time in France so far but the right-back is still one to keep an eye on.

Centre-back: Alessio Romagnoli

Age: 24

Club: AC Milan

Alessio Romagnoli has been a regular for AC Milan since breaking into the first team in 2015 and has been captain of the Rossoneri for the past two seasons, taking over from Leonardo Bonucci. The centre-back has proved to be a refreshing constant at a time of uncertainty for Milan but his performances have led to him being linked with a move to Barcelona in recent weeks. With Raiola in his corner, it is a possible move that would propel the Italian onto the next stage.

Centre-back: Kostas Manolas

Age: 28

Club: Napoli

When Manolas joined Roma in 2014, he was relatively unknown to fans who weren’t versed in Greek football but he built himself into one of Serie A’s best centre-backs. He was a rock in the Italian capital and had caught the eye of clubs around Europe, music to the ears of agent Mino Raiola, especially after his goal in Roma’s comeback against Barcelona. The 28-year-old hasn’t enjoyed the best start to life in Napoli but there’s no denying his quality remains.

Left-back: Luca Pellegrini

Age: 20

Club: Cagliari (on loan from Juventus)

Raiola’s choice of left-backs doesn’t stretch too far but in Luca Pellegrini, he certainly has one for the future. The 20-year-old signed for Juventus in the summer from Roma and is now on loan at Cagliari, appearing regularly. Pellegrini is very much a defence-minded left-back with high capabilities but does also like to go forward from time to time. Also capable of playing centre-back, Pellegrini could be a long-term replacement for Bonucci or Giorgio Chiellini in Turin.

Central midfield: Paul Pogba

Age: 26

Club: Manchester United

The man you think about when Raiola’s name is mentioned, there is no denying the quality of Paul Pogba — whether he is displaying it right now at Manchester United or not. The French midfielder is one of the best in the world when on form and made Raiola a fair bit of money when returning to Manchester from Juventus. Constantly linked with leaving Old Trafford, Pogba and Raiola aren’t exactly in United’s good books but it has proven to be a successful pairing so far.

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Central midfield: Marco Verratti

Age: 27

Club: Paris Saint-Germain

Marco Verratti is very much a different midfielder to Pogba but the Italian is another of Raiola’s clients to be at the top of his game. There may not be a better combative midfielder in world football right now with Verratti more than capable of breaking down play as well as starting things up himself with exquisite passing. Raiola hasn’t really been required to push for a move away with Verratti, but the interest has always been there.

Central midfield: Blaise Matuidi

Age: 32

Club: Juventus

Completing a very balanced midfield trio is Blaise Matuidi, who has proven himself able to produce in both defensive and offensive aspects of the game during his career. Matuidi’s relationship with Raiola is one that goes back quite a bit and initially saw him move to Juventus from PSG.

Centre-forward: Lorenzo Insigne

Age: 28

Club: Napoli

Another of Raiola’s clients currently plying their trade in Italy, Lorenzo Insigne is one of the more recent additions to the agent’s portfolio. Linking up in the summer, Insigne’s new relationship with Raiola had Napoli fans fearing for his departure but the Italian remained loyal to the club where he has become so important playing on the wing or through the middle.

Striker: Romelu Lukaku

Age: 26

Club: Inter Milan

Another of one Raiola’s higher-profile clients, Romelu Lukaku made his association with the agent count in moving to Inter Milan in the summer after struggles at Manchester United. It has worked out brilliantly for the Belgian so far with Lukaku scoring 14 goals in 18 Serie A games to help Inter lead the table in their quest to win the title for the first time since 2010.

Striker: Erling Braut Haaland

Age: 19

Club: Borussia Dortmund

For some, Zlatan Ibrahimovic might be the man to complete Raiola’s XI for the business he has provided over the years with numerous high-profile moves. But Erling Braut Haaland is one of football’s most highly-sought-after young players with massive potential and he’s a client of Raiola. The teenager made the first big move of his career recently, joining Borussia Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg, and is expected to use the German club to further his progression before moving on once more.

Haaland was initially expected to link-up with fellow Norwegian Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Man Utd but given Raiola’s recent comments about the Red Devils, it’s understandable why that never came to pass.

“Today, I would no longer bring anyone there,” Raiola told Italian outlet La Repubblica (via the Mirror).  “They would also ruin [Diego] Maradona, Pele and [Paolo] Maldini.

“Paul [Pogba] needs a team and a club, one like the first Juventus.”

Bench: Alphonse Areola (Real Madrid), Jesse Lingard (Manchester United), Henrikh Mkhitaryan (AS Roma), Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan), Moise Kean (Everton), Mario Balotelli (Brescia), Justin Kluivert (AS Roma).