Jorge Mendes and his growing portfolio of Premier League stars

Jorge Mendes started with one client he picked up in a bar… now he’s completed nearly £200m worth of Premier League transfers (and pocketed £18m personally) this summer as his influence over English football grows even stronger

  • Jorge Mendes was football’s first ‘super-agent’ and his influence is only growing
  • Cristiano Ronaldo’s trusted advisor is expanding his Premier League portfolio
  • Mendes is an advisor at Wolves, where his first ever client is the manager
  • Ruben Dias’ club-record £64m move to Man City had Mendes as the middle man
  • His Gestifute agency now manages the affairs of 21 Premier League players  

At the beginning of Cristiano Ronaldo’s 2015 film, Jorge Mendes is in a restaurant reeling off the clubs who were interested in the then-baby faced Sporting Lisbon teenager. There were no shortage of takers. 

‘Juventus, Inter Milan, Milan, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia – everybody wanted Cristiano. Thank god, Sir Alex Ferguson came to me and said “Jorge leave it with me.” This is the story. Nothing is impossible my friend. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing, believe me, trust me, trust me, nothing is impossible. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing!’

That may as well be the case for Mendes, who not only remains Ronaldo’s trusted ally and genuine friend amid his global stardom, but has also seen his influence across big-money transfers worldwide skyrocket in the past two decades. 

Jorge Mendes is one of football’s ‘super-agents’, who runs the affairs of Cristiano Ronaldo

Mendes has been a close advisor and friend for Ronaldo during his meteoric rise in football

Football’s first ever ‘super-agent’ no less, Mendes runs the Portuguese agency group Gestifute, which is responsible for the services of 122 players and managers worldwide, according to Forbes. That, in itself, is an influence and control abnormally high. 

Everyone starts somewhere though. Having failed in his own pursuit of playing professional football, Mendes was a nightclub owner in Portugal when he bumped into Nuno Espirito Santo in 1996, a fledgling goalkeeper attempting to carve a career out of nothing. 

A conversation materialised. An agreement was reached. A deal to top-division side Vitoria de Guimaraes orchestrated. And with that, his first client, Mendes began his ascent to the top of the agency food-chain. 

Yet for a man now 54 years of age, there’s no signs of slowing down. This summer, Mendes has expanded his ever-growing Premier League portfolio, with Tottenham’s imminent loan-to-buy deal for Benfica hitman Carlos Vinicius the seventh move over the line.

Furthermore, whilst his clients’ needs come first, Mendes doesn’t half reap the benefits. According to Portuguese newspaper The Ball, Mendes has collected up to £18.1m (€20m) of commissions already this summer.

Manchester City’s club-record acquisition, Ruben Dias from Benfica for £64.3million, was brokered by Mendes (he received a reported cut of £6.1m), as was Diogo Jota’s surprise £41million move to Liverpool.

But these don’t even scratch the surface. That’s the thing with Mendes: in a traditionally unpopular profession, his reputation and affability go a long way. 

With Portugal’s rising stars and senior professionals nearly all under his control, Mendes’ network at the top of English football shows no sign of stagnating. 

Mendes’ clients at clubs across the country, as well as his intermediary involvement at Man Utd


Wolves manager Nuno Espirito Santo (left) was Mendes’ first ever client back in the 1990s

MENDES’ PREMIER LEAGUE DEALS – SUMMER 2020 

  • Ruben Dias, Benfica to Manchester City, £64.3m
  • Diogo Jota, Wolves to Liverpool, £41m
  • Nelson Semedo, Barcelona to Wolves, £37m
  • James Rodriguez, Real Madrid to Everton, £20m
  • Matt Doherty, Wolves to Tottenham, £15m
  • Helder Costa, Wolves to Leeds, £16m
  • Carlos Vinicius, Benfica to Tottenham, LOAN 

TOTAL – £193.3MILLION 

WOLVES – SEVEN PLAYERS, ONE MANAGER

Unsurprisingly, Mendes’ control is most keenly felt at Molineux, where his first client Nuno is now the head coach. The pair are incredibly close. 

A staggering total of 10 Portuguese players are now in the Wolves squad, with seven managed by Gestifute. 

Ruben Neves, Daniel Podence, Rui Patricio, Pedro Neto and Joao Moutinho are five Wolves stalwarts whose affairs are all controlled by Mendes.   

What started as an ambitious project when Nuno was hired three years ago has turned into a mass Portuguese overhaul – and Mendes has played his part. 

Officially, Mendes’ role at Wolves is simply advisory. The club’s former managing director, Laurie Dalrymple, said in 2017: ‘[He is] someone, because of the friendship with the owners, that we take opinions and advice from.’  

This year, Nelson Semedo’s club-record £37million move from Barcelona had Mendes as the middle man. 20-year-old midfielder Vitinha, who joined on loan from Porto, is also managed by the super-agent. 

Even summer outgoings, of which Wolves have had a fair few despite two years of continued success, had Mendes at the heart of deals. 

Diogo Jota, Matt Doherty and Helder Costa all departed the club in the past few months, bringing in a combined total of £72million in transfer fees of which a substantial amount has been redistributed into improving the playing squad. 

Mendes (far right) has regularly been a visitor in the box at Molineux for Wolves home games

Wolves signed promising Porto midfielder Vitinha on a loan deal brokered by Mendes

Nelson Semedo’s £37m move from Barcelona broke Wolves’ transfer record this summer 

Gestifute have control of all three players, with Doherty a notable anomaly in his Irish nationality differing from the norm. Mendes took responsibility for the right back last year, with his prominence amongst the first-team dressing room no doubt spreading. 

Don’t be surprised if Mendes’ role at Wolves continues to rise, as the team and club continues to grow exponentially worldwide. 

MANCHESTER CITY – FOUR PLAYERS

One of the biggest deals of the summer, centre back Dias’ move to City this week broke the club’s transfer-record, at £64.3million. 

At 23 and the now former Benfica captain, Dias is a player who represents the exact mould of a classic Mendes client: young, enormous potential and Portuguese, obviously. 

Ruben Dias signed for Manchester City for £64.3million and is represented by Gestifute

Gestifute also controls the affairs of Portuguese internationals Bernardo Silva and Joao Cancelo, as well as Brazilian goalkeeper Ederson, who also moved to the Etihad from Benfica.

LIVERPOOL – TWO PLAYERS  

Mendes would no doubt have been a satisfied and somewhat proud spectator when Jota scored on his home debut for Liverpool in the 3-1 win against Arsenal on Monday night. 

The 23-year-old Portuguese attacker is managed by the Gestifute chief, and his surprise £41m move was facilitated as a result of Mendes’ close relationship with the board at Molineux. 

Gestifute also manage the affairs of Fabinho, who moved to Anfield for £32m in 2018 from Monaco and has become an integral member of Jurgen Klopp’s trophy-winning juggernaut.  

Mendes’ clients at Liverpool, Diogo Jota and Fabinho, celebrate Jota’s first goal for the club

TOTTENHAM – TWO PLAYERS, ONE MANAGER 

Alongside Ronaldo, Mendes’ most famous client is none other than serial trophy winner Jose Mourinho, who is now in charge of his third Premier League club in Tottenham. 

Interestingly though, Mourinho’s move to Spurs last November was not led by Mendes, with the Spurs gaffer thought to be unhappy with Mendes releasing a statement in December 2018 declaring Manchester United were happy with their manager. 

Mourinho was sacked 11 days later. 


Jose Mourinho was Mendes’ client but the agent was not used for the manager’s move to Spurs

Nevertheless, Mourinho is still listed as a Gestifute client and having played a role in all of Mourinho’s European moves in the last 20 years, Mendes has had a significant influence on many of the players his clubs have signed over the years. 

This summer, Doherty’s move down south was orchestrated by the 54-year-old, while Vinicius’ incoming loan with an option-to-buy deal from Benfica will see Mendes’ influence at Spurs grow – even if Mendes’ relationship with Mourinho is perhaps not what it once was.

EVERTON – ONE PLAYER  

It’s early doors, but one of the most mouthwatering purchases of the summer was Everton landing Real Madrid playmaker James Rodriguez. A statement signing, if ever there was one. 

Rodriguez was frozen out under Zinedine Zidane at the Bernabeu and despite links to a host of clubs across Europe, the Colombian’s relationship with Carlo Ancelotti was seen as pivotal – a factor which will not have been lost on Mendes. 

One of the most famous stars in Colombia has Mendes managing his affairs, both on the pitch and off the pitch in the world of sponsorship and endless marketability. 

Everton’s £20m summer signing James Rodriguez is one of Mendes’ highest-profile clients

LEICESTER – ONE PLAYER

Signed from Porto two years ago, Ricardo Pereira overcome a few early struggles to become one of the Premier League’s star right backs last season, particularly when Leicester were challenging at the very top of the table. 

The 26-year-old Portuguese international, who has seven caps for his country, is managed by Gestifute, with the trend once again obvious.  

A Portuguese player in his early-20s, at one of the Primeira Liga’s top clubs, securing a big-money move to England. 

Ricardo Pereira’s moved to Leicester City in the summer of 2018 was facilitated by Gestifute

LEEDS – ONE PLAYER  

Helder Costa is slightly different in his trajectory since arriving in England, but Mendes’ influence in his career shows clear parallels with his other clients. 

Under contract with Benfica until 2017, Costa thrived at Monaco and then Wolves before securing a permanent move to Molineux for £13million three years ago. 

However, he flourished on loan again at Leeds last season and made his stay at Elland Road permanent in July, signing a four-year deal. 

Helder Costa has become a key player for Leeds since moving to the club from Wolves last year

ASTON VILLA – ONE PLAYER

Like Doherty, Mendes’ sole representative at Villa Park breaks the mould. 

Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi joined Aston Villa permanently from Lille last summer for £8million. 

A regular in the starting XI last season as Villa stayed up on the final day, the 25-year-old’s affairs are managed by Gestifute.

Aston Villa’s 25-year-old Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi is represented by Mendes 

FULHAM – ONE PLAYER

Fulham’s free-kick specialist Ivan Cavaleiro played a key role in Scott Parker’s side achieving promotion to the Premier League, even if their start in recent weeks does not bode well for the rest of the campaign. 

Cavaleiro, like plenty of Mendes’ clients before him, followed the Benfica-England route, with a stint at Monaco in 2015-16 in-between. 

He did actually play regularly for Wolves in their Championship-winning season and their first year in the Premier League but amid the influx of Portuguese stars, the 26-year-old trickster was one player cast aside by Nuno.  

Fulham winger Ivan Cavaleiro was another Mendes client who has played at Wolves recently

WEST HAM – ONE PLAYER  

Signed by the Hammers last summer from Boavista, Goncalo Cardoso is yet to make his first-team debut.

A 19-year-old centre back, he played regularly in the 2019-20 campaign for the club’s Under-23 side.

Cardoso has also played five times for Portugal’s Under-20 team and is another Portuguese teenager snapped up by Mendes. As a result, the sky should be the limit.  

Young Portuguese centre back Goncalo Cardoso moved to West Ham from Boavista last year

AND HIS INVOLVEMENT DOES NOT END THERE…

With all that and more on his plate with Gestifute, you would be forgiven for thinking Mendes’ influence stopped there. But it does not. 

The Portuguese agent often acts as an intermediary between clubs and players unassociated with Gestifute, and he is known for having a very close relationship with Manchester United despite no clients under his official stewardship playing at Old Trafford. 

A partnership that is reportedly so close to an extent that Ed Woodward jumped up in a state of joy when Mendes called him in front of a group of journalists five years ago. Mendes, as you would expect, knows those in charge of the purse-strings very well. 

Mendes is brokering a potential deal for Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund to Man Utd

He is involved in ongoing talks regarding Jadon Sancho’s potential move from Borussia Dortmund to Manchester United, while he was reportedly paid £6.4million from Porto after Fabio Silva joined Wolves – even though he is not even the striker’s agent!

All in all, if there’s a big European deal brewing, Mendes is very likely to be involved. With Ronaldo coming towards the end of his career, the super-agent is already planning for life post-Cristiano. 

And it seems English football will be associated with Mendes and his team for many more years to come. 

GESTIFUTE’S PREMIER LEAGUE PORTFOLIO 

Players:  

  • Ruben Neves, Nelson Semedo, Daniel Podence, Rui Patricio, Pedro Neto, Joao Moutinho, Vitinha (loan) – Wolves (7) 
  • Bernardo Silva, Ederson, Joao Cancelo, Ruben Dias – Man City (4)
  • Fabinho, Diogo Jota – Liverpool (2) 
  • Matt Doherty, Carlos Vinicius (tbc) – Tottenham (2) 
  • James Rodriguez – Everton
  • Ricardo Pereira – Leicester 
  • Helder Costa – Leeds
  • Anwar El Ghazi – Aston Villa
  • Ivan Cavaleiro – Fulham
  • Goncalo Cardoso – West Ham

TOTAL – 21 players

Managers:

  • Jose Mourinho – Tottenham
  • Nuno Espirito Santo – Wolves 

TOTAL – 2 managers

OVERALL – 23 players/managers




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