Leitura para o fim-de-semana: os pecados do super-agente

Jorge Mendes é agente de futebolistas. Recebe por isso. Quando negoceia transferências entre clubes, recebe uma comissão. Mas também aconselha fundos de investimento em jogadores. E participa em empresas que compram passes de atletas. Ou seja, cai várias vezes em situações de conflitos de interesses. São as revelações de uma investigação do The Guardian sobre o agente mais poderoso do mundo.

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From Diego Costa to Angel di María, the Portuguese super agent is responsible for the biggest deals in football but is also in apparent breach of Fifa regulations

Jorge Mendes, the Portuguese agent who has conducted many of the biggest transfers in European football, is serially involved in the third‑party ownership of players in apparent breach of Fifa regulations, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Mendes, who brokered the year’s biggest deals, including Ángel di María’s £59.7m move to Manchester United and Diego Costa’s £32m purchase by Chelsea, was seeking to attract €85m (£67m) from undeclared investors via offshore companies to buy stakes in players at clubs in Spain and Portugal, according to a document seen by the Guardian. The prospectus and further inquiries have shown that:

Mendes and the former Manchester United and Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon advise five Jersey-based funds on more than £100m to be invested in buying “economic rights” in players.

Mendes admits he has a conflict of interest, because he acts as the agent to players whose economic rights have been bought by the funds he advises; this appears to contravene Fifa regulations on agents.

Sporting Lisbon say the funds that Mendes and Kenyon advise sought to buy stakes in players as a condition of players, advised by Mendes, renewing their contracts.

Mendes claims to have conducted 68% of all player transactions at Portugal’s great clubs, Sporting Lisbon, Benfica and Porto, in the decade 2001-10.

The 20-year ascent of Mendes from Porto nightclub owner and friend of footballers to the beaming broker of the game’s most lucrative transfers has tracked the sport’s pay-TV-fuelled inflation itself, and Portugal’s status as a habitual exporter of players. Mendes built his name and the operation of his company, Gestifute, on attaining a remarkable dominance over the deals done by Portugal’s top three clubs, and he took several of these players on multimillion-pound moves to England and Spain. There he has extended his influence, particularly after his client José Mourinho made the journey himself from Porto after 2004, to sign as the manager at Chelsea, then Internazionale and Real Madrid, now Chelsea again.

Mendes’s work reached stunning fruition this summer, when he was seen conducting the biggest moves of talent and money not only from his home country’s financially hollowed out clubs but of the whole European football player transfer market. James Rodríguez, his reputation glowing from his World Cup excellence, was signed by Real Madrid for £71m from Monaco, to where Mendes brokered his move from Porto only last year for €45m (£38.5m). Porto declared in its annual report that it paid Gestifute €4.4m (£3.6m) for “intermediation service costs” on that deal; the amount paid by Real this year has not been disclosed.

Di María, deemed surplus stock at Real Madrid, came to Old Trafford for almost £60m in Manchester United’s post-Sir Alex Ferguson and David Moyes splash-out; a grinning Mendes was seen with Louis van Gaal in the 4×4 at United’s Carrington training ground. Radamel Falcao, whose €40m (£32m) sale by Porto to Atlético Madrid in 2011 was brokered by Mendes – Gestifute shared €3.7m (£3m) “intermediation service costs” with another company, Orel – moved to Monaco last year for £50m, then Mendes brought him to United this summer on an extraordinarily costly loan. Eliaquim Mangala, for whom Manchester City paid £32m to Porto – 33% of Mangala’s “economic rights” had been owned by the Malta-based third-party ownership fund Doyen – was another Mendes move.

Costa brought his goalscoring eye from Atlético Madrid, where Mendes boasts of powerful influence, to Mourinho at Chelsea, who paid £32m. Reports have stated that 30% of Costa’s “economic rights” were owned by an offshore fund but sources close to the signing say in fact there was no third‑party ownership of Costa.

Unquestionably true, however, is that Mendes, as well as acting as an agent for these and many other players, and being paid by clubs as a transfer “intermediary”, is serially involved with Kenyon in advising on the third‑party ownership of economic rights in players.

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