Evan Planchon’s first post of 2016 takes a look at Jorge Mendes – the business mind who has been ruffling feathers in the football world.
With a net worth of $95.6 million and contracts worth over $956.4 million, Jorge Mendes has conquered the world of football. The agent of superstars Cristiano Ronaldo, Angel Di Maria, James Rodriguez and even recently dismissed coach Jose Mourinho, was ranked second most powerful sports agent in the world by Forbes magazine in 2015. The Portuguese agent received five consecutive Agent of The Year awards and is, without any doubt, planning on achieving new milestones.
Building An Empire
Jorge Mendes started his career as a semi-professional football player in Portugal before a career-ending knee injury cut his dream short. Mendes then worked as a DJ in a popular nightclub before becoming a talent scout for different football clubs in Portugal. His scouting enabled him to enter Cristiano Ronaldo’s entourage where the two men have revolutionized each other’s lives ever since.
“People have the wrong idea about agents. Being an agent means many different things. I’m someone normal; I’m working hard every day. I have ambition, determination and value honesty and morality.”
– Jorge Mendes
The 49-year-old “super agent”, as the sports industry nickname him, has the reputation to secure extremely lucrative deals during the final hours of the transfer window. A recent transfer story that made global media headlines was the transfer of French prodigy Anthony Martial, a client of Mendes, to Manchester United from Monaco FC for a jaw-dropping $90 million. A week before the summer transfer window closed, Martial was valued at $34 million and the two clubs were on the verge of signing the contract’s terms. However, a few days before the contract was signed, Mendes was asked by Monaco executives to act as an adviser to ensure the success of the lucrative transfer. Mendes grabbed the opportunity and increased the price of 19-year-old Martial from $34 million to $55.5 million. The contract then reached the value of $90 million with incentives and endorsements; breaking transfer records for a teenage player. The world of football woke up to the news shocked and confused, as several football experts questioned why a 19-year-old who scored 11 goals in 53 professional appearances for Monaco was sold for $90 million. The answer is simple; Jorge Mendes’s influence is beyond measure and increasing the value of the contract by 40 percent is no difficult task for the super agent.
A Business Mindset
In a recent Forbes ranking of agents, Mendes arrived second behind Major League Baseball (MLB) agent Scott Boras who secured $2.3 billion worth of active MLB player contracts. However, Mendes is not far from securing the first spot as the world’s most powerful agent if he continues closing his lucrative prodigies contracts.
Mendes has always been there for his players and vice-versa. It is without any doubt that Cristiano Ronaldo built Jorge Mendes’s legacy in the sports management industry. After joining Ronaldo’s entourage Mendes secured his $19-million move from Sporting Lisbon to Manchester United, where Ronaldo lifted three Premier League trophies, one Champions League title and generated over $100 million in transfer fees for Manchester after moving to Spanish giants Real Madrid.
The day Mendes became Ronaldo’s agent, thousands of doors opened for the super agent. Football experts admit that before becoming Ronaldo’s agent and before the world witnessed CR7’s unstoppable success on the pitch, Mendes was not closing any large deals. Former professional players and agents also recognize that Mendes is a businessman over a football man which is one of the reasons why he has built his empire and conquered the management of the sport in such a dominant fashion.
In addition to being the agent of multiple superstars, Mendes is also a club agent for large clubs such as Monaco, Real Madrid, Valencia and Porto.
Between 2001 and 2010, Mendes secured 68% of all transfers for Porto, Benfica and Sporting Lisbon. His influence on these established and successful clubs is extremely high and Mendes has become a major asset for those who are looking to buy and sell talented players for lucrative sums.
If Mendes were a Wall Street broker for a day, the stock market would crash. This is because he collects on average 10 percent of every contract he completes. While other agents are considered lucky if they secure three percent of contracts, Mendes has established his reputation and set his own conditions for his miracles when it comes to securing deals. Experts fear that there is a damaging conflict of interest between Mendes and the clubs, but his recent signings have shown that the results are promising and beneficial for both parties.
A Personal Touch
Tom Cruise said it in Jerry McGuire: “Stay close to your players”. Jorge Mendes clearly understood this as he has not only entered the close entourage of his players, but also became the father figure of his prodigies. For the super agent, his success relies on his connections and close relations with his players.
“Without him right now I wouldn’t be a footballer, I’d be working in the sea.”
– Fábio Coentrão
His care and respect for his players has reached levels to the point where Cristiano Ronaldo bought his agent an entire Greek Island for his recent wedding. Mendes’ network of influence was also established as a result of his close player relations and his ability to consider his players as family members. His successful sports agency GestiFute emphasizes close and strong relations with players in order to ensure their success on and off the field.
Jorge Mendes has gained my respect for what he has achieved in his professional career. From ending his football career to working in a nightclub to becoming the most powerful football agent in the history of the sport, Mendes has never given up. His ability to maintain a close relation with his players is remarkable and a lesson to all agents in the sports industry.