Football agents, mostly, move in silence. They move players around the globe, netting immense fees and becoming true power brokers. Jorge Mendes is different, utilizing his status to undertake projects that most could never fathom.


Even before their promotion to the Premier League, Wolves were being molded by Jorge Mendes. The Portuguese super agent spent transfer windows building Wolves up to a point where they could be a potent top flight side.

When Wolves eventually reached the Prem, they came out firing. For their first few seasons after promotion, the Midlands club served as a model for other clubs yearning for stability in the Prem. However, they’ve since hit a plateau, never reaching the heights imagined by Mendes.

Photo: Globe Soccer Awards

After a brief break from the Prem, the super agent is back with Nottingham Forest. Highlighted by the addition of two of his clients, Nuno Espírito Santo and Gio Reyna, his grasp is growing. With the club under threat of relegation, it’s hard to see the project succeeding.

While most agents prefer to make their moves in the shadows, Mendes profiles more like Scott Boras or Rich Paul. Unlike those two, Mendes continues to try to imagine himself as something more than an agent, a builder of teams.


Naming football agents is something no one can truly do, unless they’re weirdly obsessed with it. American sports have a deeper fixation with agents, as they’re often more in the spotlight.

No free agency or trade window goes by without agents arguing for their player’s ability to move. In fairness, it’s driven by the players themselves and their own desires. Football is just different, with the lack of players really communicating their desires to the world.

It takes a special character to emerge from this landscape and build something. Mendes’ career will forever be tied to two of the Prem’s most defining figures. Mourinho and Ronaldo transformed the league into box office action and the man responsible continued to flood the league with his clients.

After a career full of high level moves, it was time for something new for the super agent. Now, it would be time for him to run a club.

Wolves appeared to be an attractive proposition. New ownership with their eyes set on pushing the historic club back to the Prem circled Mendes as the one to build their side. While it would take time for the project to bear fruit, his strategy would begin to take shape.

Photo: Sky Sports

Using his network of connections to move promising Portuguese talents to the Midlands. Highlighted by Rúben Neves, the Portuguese pipeline pushed Wolves to their promotion in 2018. Another one of Mendes’ bets, Nuno proved to be an excellent manager and had Wolves playing top football. 

Perhaps the defining move of the Mendes era was the club signing highly touted striker Fábio Silva. At only 18, Silva promised to be the club’s future, who could both help the club and yield it a hefty return.

Things really began to fall apart for Mendes not too soon after that. The club hit a rough patch when their mercurial striker, Raúl Jiménez, suffered a terrible injury. Nuno left the club too, with the project all but failed.


Back in the Prem with Nottingham, Mendes is attempting to rebuild something with a far less stable club. Forest spent ages clawing their way back to the Prem and are now hoping the agent will work his magic

Mendes started by helping bring Nuno to Forest over other candidates, with the fit not being terrible. It certainly makes more sense than when Nuno moved from Porto to Wolves, but his tactics did stall at Spurs. However, the move that really made his presence felt was the loan of Gio Reyna.

After falling out of favor at Dortmund, the American had a fair share of interested clubs looking to help him rebuild his career. Spurning them all, he chose a club that made no sense, but that was run by his agent.

Two moves hardly feel like a take over, so this summer will likely show the true scale of Mendes’  power at Forest. However, it does seem that clubs continue to believe in the agent’s projects. Wolves had great success at first, but began to sputter as time went on.

Photo: Getty

A miracle will have to be pulled off if Mendes truly believes in the project that Forest is presenting to him. Neves isn’t likely to walk through the door to save his reputation with Forest,  only Reyna. 

Mendes has pushed the bounds of what it means to be an agent his whole career. From negotiating a manager’s total control to capitalizing on a superstar, running a club may be too much for him.

Unlike other agents, Mendes plays his role more like an agent in American sports rather than football. As he continues to get his clients paid, the Portuguese constantly reinvents himself as he looks to fully control the sport. However, even if he has mastered a good portion of football, Mendes is yet to understand what it means to run a side.

 

Featured image: Reuters

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