Since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson in 2013, there has been one man behind much of the comings and goings at Manchester United. As much as he would like to think so, it is not executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
Jorge Mendes is the super agent responsible for some of the biggest deals to happen in Manchester across the previous two summer transfer windows. Angel di Maria, Radamel Falcao, David de Gea and now, it appears, Jose Mourinho have all either signed for or stayed at Manchester United because of Mendes' influence.
At one point, he seemed to have so much power at Old Trafford that Woodward was ready to consider extending Falcao's loan deal just to stay in Mendes' good books, or so they story goes.
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With the arrival of Mourinho as manager, Mendes' influence was only expected to grow. The two share a close relationship, to the point that the agent had his own office at Real Madrid's training ground when Mourinho was in charge.
However, in Mourinho's first summer in charge of the Red Devils, he finds himself courting the affections of another so-called super agent. Mino Raiola is holding all the cards as the Portuguese manager goes in search of transforming United from pretenders into contenders ahead of the new season.
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Raiola is not exactly the finely cut figure that Mendes is. Mendes rarely appears in anything but tailor-made suits while Raiola frequently opts for the track variety. Indeed, any sight of him at a swanky football gala and you would be forgiven for mistaking him as a photographer rather than the man being photographed.
But Raiola is set to be the kingmaker this summer as he represents three of Manchester United's top transfer targets, the first and most prominent of which is Paul Pogba.
The Juventus star has been tipped to leave in a huge deal this summer and Mourinho appears to have convinced United officials to take another chance on him. Wounds are still open after Pogba left in 2012 but Woodward appears to have acquiesced on the subject and agreed to commit to a big-money bid.
Whether that will be enough to sign him or not is another matter altogether. Raiola has recently confirmed that he is talking to Real Madrid about a deal for Pogba while a host of other clubs remain interested.
They may have better luck with another of Raiola's clients, Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Raiola has never shied away from the Armenian's desire to move to Old Trafford and is currently trying to negotiate his exit from Borussia Dortmund.
On the talks, he said: "It would be a sin to stop talking. I am a positive guy. If I wasn’t confident of reaching some kind of conclusion, I wouldn’t try.
"I am very proud Manchester United want him and the talks are being held in a good atmosphere but at the moment, Dortmund are still saying no."
And Manchester United's access to Mkhitaryan can only have been improved by their willingness to sign Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the likeliest of the three players to join Mourinho at Old Trafford.
Mourinho and Ibrahimovic share a close relationship and both are reportedly keen on a reunion. The potential efficacy of the deal does not seem to have been considered. That Ibrahimovic is 34-years-old and is demanding close to £300,000-a-week is of no interest to Manchester United.
It is possible that bringing Ibrahimovic to the club was seen as a way to get closer to the agent with all keys. If it works, Manchester United could have the two most powerful agents in world football on their side and that can never be a bad thing.
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