Considered greedy middlemen by some and necessary deal brokers by others, football agents have become just as influential as the game’s best players over the past 20 years.
Helping to grease the wheels of football’s money machine, agents have long used their insidious skills to accumulate massive personal wealth on the back of their clients’ talent.
With transfer fee and wage values skyrocketing in recent years, agents have been claiming a sizable cut of the cash generated by the world’s most popular sport and some of the industry’s biggest names are now considered just as powerful as any club director or governing body administrator.
Below, we’ve taken a closer look at seven of the most powerful agents currently operating in football.
The seven most powerful agents in football
7. Federico Pastorello
Agency: P&P Sport Management
Clients: Demarai Gray, Alex Meret, Arthur Melo, Joao Mario, Neal Maupay, Stefan de Vrij
Italian businessman Federico Pastorello has an enormous client list at his agency P&P Sport Management, and though he might not have as many star names in his stable as some of his competitors, the sheer volume of players on his books helps to compensate. Pastorello founded his agency in 1996 and he won the Golden Agent award in 2021.
6. Volker Struth
Agency: 360 Sports
Clients: Niklas Sule, Timo Werner, Noah Okafor, Nicolas Seiwald, Toni Kross, Mario Gotze
Volker Struth is the biggest name in German sports management and alongside managing a lengthy list of established stars and up-and-comers from his homeland, his 360 Sports venture also handles business for Julian Nagelsmann. If you’re looking to sign someone from the Bundesliga, Struth is the guy to see.
5. Paolo Busardo
Agency: CAA Base
Clients: Kingsley Coman, James Maddison, Heung-min Son, Richarlison, Bremer, Eberechi Eze, Raphael Varane
Paolo Busardo is a powerful figure at the CAA Base agency – a company that represents more than 500 players from around the world. Busardo has brokered deals for some of the most high-profile transfers in recent years and his fingerprints would have been all over the deal that took James Maddison from Leicester to Tottenham this summer.
4. Jonathan Barnett
Agency: ICM Stellar Sports
Clients: Eduardo Camavinga, Jack Grealish, Luke Shaw, Yeremy Pino, Ibrahima Konate, Ben Chilwell
Jonathan Barnett is one of the oldest heads on the football agents’ game and the 73-year-old has overseen the rise of ICM Stellar Sports from a seedling venture into the gargantuan enterprise it is today. Some of the most famous transfers Barnett put together during his career includes Gareth Bale’s world-record mega-money switch from Spurs to Real Madrid in 2013.
3. Pini Zahavi
Agency: GOL International
Clients: Christopher Nkunku, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, Gabi Veig, Robert Lewandowski, Aleksandar Mitrovic
Pini Zahavi has been at the heart of some of the biggest financial plays in football over a career that has spanned six decades. The Israeli-born agent was a key transfer arranger for Roman Abramovich at Chelsea and he also helped to broker the sale of the Blues to the Russian as well as the sale of Portsmouth to Alexandre Gaydamak in 2006. Zahavi also drove the deal that made Rio Ferdinand the most expensive defender of all time in 2002.
2. Rafaela Pimenta
Agency: Rafaela Pimenta Agency
Clients: Erling Haaland, Matthijs de Ligt, Marco Verratti, Donyell Malen, Paul Pogba, Henrikh Mkhitaryan
When the infamous Mino Raiola passed away in 2022, his business partner and close confidant Rafaela Pimenta took over his client list and instantly became one of the most powerful super agents in world football. Pimenta was at the centre of the deals that took Erling Haaland to Manchester City and Paul Pogba back to Juventus over the past couple of years.
1. Jorge Mendes
Clients: Ruben Dias, Bernardo Silva, Darwin Nunez, Goncalo Ramos, Joao Felix, Diogo Jota, Ederson
The original “Super Agent”, Jorge Mendes’ name has been synonymous with football’s transfer dealings for more than 20 years. The Portuguese deal maker dominates the scene in his homeland and represents a massive catalogue of the nation’s best players and brightest prospects
Mendes’ most-famous client was global superstar Cristiano Ronaldo before the pair split in January 2023 prior to the latter’s move to Saudi Arabia. Mendes is said to have over one billion pounds worth of talent on his books at Gestifute.