April 23, 2021

Mino Raiola and fellow agents may be worried after Kevin De Bruyne’s £83m deal

4 min read

The news will have had the likes of pot-bellied agent Mino Raiola choking on one of his favourite espressos.

Kevin De Bruyne, arguably the finest footballer in the world, had just signed a new deal with Manchester City – and he negotiated it himself.

That’s right. The Belgium superstar didn’t feel the need to have an agent holding his hand throughout the talks.

Instead, over a period of a few weeks, De Bruyne spoke for himself and even thought for himself. Who’d have thought it, eh?

He outlined his importance to the team, studied how well his side are set up for success in the coming years, based on the age and qualities of the current squad and told Etihad bosses what he thought he was worth.

It all added up to a two-year extension worth almost £400,000-a-week. Or a few quid over £83m.

Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City signs a new contract extension at the club at Manchester City
Kevin de Bruyne of Manchester City signs a new contract extension at the club at Manchester City

But the best part of the story is that not a single penny was used to line the pockets of an agent in return for him working his client from behind like some sort of ventriloquist dummy.

City director of football Txiki Begiristain described the deal as “a very significant moment” for his club.

Let’s hope it proves to be one for the game in general, too, because De Bruyne has acted like some sort of pioneer, pointing the way forward towards a future in which the game is not held hostage to those who have become the scourge of the sport.

Recent figures showed that in the last 12 months top flight clubs spent a staggering £272m on agent fees.

This was despite a bunch of those same clubs suffering – and bleating about – major financial losses due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, while those in the lower leagues stared towards going bankrupt.

Mino Raiola is the agent for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland
Mino Raiola is the agent for Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland
(Image: GETTY)

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It’s safe to assume De Bruyne was on solid ground when it came to impressing upon Begiristain just how crucial he was to the team’s hopes of success in the future.

He is unique in this regard, but the fact remains that thousands of modern footballers around the world still view their respective agents as being the biggest influences on their careers.

Raiola is one of the central characters in Zlatan Ibrahimovich’s modestly entitled autobiography “I Am Zlatan”, someone who once described contract talks as “my matches”. Someone who snubs suits for jeans and trainers because it leads club bosses to underestimate him.

But what De Bruyne has shown is how it is footballers who underestimate themselves when it comes to striking a deal.

It’s not rocket science lads so wake up – because now we have actual proof that agents can be overrated.

Kevin De Bruyne will spend the peak years of his career at the Etihad

As someone approaching the age of 50 while still thinking he’s 30, I can sadly vouch for just how fast time goes.

But it’s still hard to believe that a decade has now passed since Rory McIlroy’s momentous meltdown in the final round at Augusta.

Instead of winning a Green Jacket, the Northern Irishman ended up needing a straight jacket as he toiled through the pines wondering how he’d blown the chance to land one of golf’s greatest prizes.

More chances would come, because back then McIlroy was only 21.

But he’s now in his 30s and opportunities to win the Masters continue to come and go.

Can Rory McIlroy end his tournament drought?
Can Rory McIlroy end his tournament drought?
(Image: Getty Images)

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McIlroy hasn’t won a tournament since 2019, let alone a Major. The last of these came back in 2014 and the clock is now ticking faster than he would like.

People keep believing it’s his destiny to win the Masters, but this is utter claptrap.

He’s more than good enough, for sure, and doing so would see him complete a career Grand Slam to join the most exclusive club in golf.

He’ll get another crack at conquering Augusta in these next few days and the time has now come for him to start delivering the success his talent justifies.

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