They are the scourge of most managers and chairmen, but football agents are essential when it comes to clubs completing transfers.
And as we gear up for another summer of big-money deals, Metro runs down the 10 men who will be behind many of the key moves in the next few months.
10. Barry Silkman
After 16 years as a journeyman midfielder and a failed attempt to go into management, Silkman turned to being a football agent in the 1990s and has been involved in plenty of big deals.
The 60-year-old is mostly known for being a broker of deals, rather than a straight agent, often getting involved at the last minute to help complete transfers. This summer he has been linked with David Villa, who looks certain to leave Barcelona ahead of a potential switch to the Premier League.
Clients: David Villa, Demba Ba, Didier Drogba, Ravel Morrison
9. Cezary Kucharski
Former Poland international Kucharski is a rising star on the football agency scene, having developed an increasingly impressive list of clients in Germay and his native Poland.
His star client, Robert Lewandowski, looks like being his most lucrative to date, with Manchester United and Chelsea both keen along with Bayern Munich. Kucharski claims on his website he is a transfer master, and will drive a hard bargain with clubs keen to sign his players.
Clients: Robert Lewandowski, Jakub Błaszczykowski, Dimitar Rangelov
8. Jerome Anderson
Perhaps English football’s most controversial agent, Anderson is set to be another key player in this year’s transfer market. He shot to fame looking after the likes of Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp at Arsenal, before being criticised for take control of transfers at Manchester City and then Blackburn.
This summer Anderson will be looking to move on Chelsea star John Obi Mikel, who he took to Stamford Bridge in 2006 after breaking off a pre-contract agreement with Manchester United. He has a fierce record, but gets the business done.
Clients: John Obi Mikel, Eduardo, Axel Witsel, Kieran Gibbs
7. Pini Zahavi
Zahavi hit the headlines through his dealings at Chelsea following the takeover by Roman Abramovich, with several transfers being investigated for alleged corruption. The Israeli was also involved in several dodgy takeovers at Portsmouth, but his bread and butter is transfers.
Linked closely with Rio Ferdinand and Petr Cech, this summer Zahavi will be looking to do business once again on Carlos Tevez, who he has moved to both Manchester clubs via West Ham. A big-money switch to Italy is on the cards, and expect to hear plenty more from the 69-year-old.
Clients: Rio Ferdinand, Petr Cech, Carlos Tevez
6. Tim Hager
Hager is one of the least-known agents around, but his client list and ability to cause trouble among clubs is now seeing him attract plenty of attention.
He works for the WB Sportmanagement agency, and has already made noises that he’ll be trying to get the likes of Yann M’Vila, Mamadou Sakho and Antoine Griezmann moves to the Premier League this summer.
Clients: Yann M’Vila, Mamadou Sakho, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Antoine Griezmann
5. Mino Raiola
The mastermind behind journeyman Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Raiola has become an increasing presence in a number of big transfer deals, from all across Europe. Shaktar’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan is his latest client, and he stands to make plenty of money this summer with Liverpool and Inter Milan both keen.
Raiola is ruthless, and also represents the likes of Paul Pogba and France star Etienne Capoue – both of whom are wanted by Arsenal and Chelsea – while Napoli’s Edinson Cavani counts him as an adviser.
Clients: Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mario Balotelli, Edinson Cavani, Etienne Capoue
4. Jonathan Barnett
Known for helping launch Lennox Lewis’ career in boxing, Barnett hit the headlines in 2006 when he was charged over tapping up offences, relating to Ashley Cole’s transfer to Chelsea. These days he keeps his head down, only boasting a few – albeit huge – clients.
One is Gareth Bale – a target for a number of clubs, and a man rumoured to be on the cusp of becoming the first £100million player. Barnett could end up extremely wealthy if he plays his cards right, and he’s already talking a good game by urging Real Madrid to lodge a formal offer.
Clients: Ashley Cole, Gareth Bale, Joe Hart, Wojciech Szczesny, Rafael, Fabio, Darren Bent
3. Pere Guardiola
While his brother Pep Guardiola settles into the hot seat at new club Bayern Munich, Pere looks like having a busy summer of his own, with controversial Liverpool striker Luis Suarez his number one client.
Pere has made a career orchestrating transfers, being linked to several deals involving Barcelona youth team players, but fully represents and manages Suarez’s interests. The striker is desperate to leave Liverpool and, despite interest from Real Madrid, don’t bet against Pere sending his top client to Bayern to join sibling Pep.
Clients: Luis Suarez, Jon Toral, Hector Bellerin, Isaac Cuenca
2. Paul Stretford
Stretford is one of the boldest agents around, having dared to take on a 16-year-old Wayne Rooney and manage his career ever since. He was the driving influence behind the England striker’s two transfer requests at Manchester United – and it speaks volumes for the agent that he even dared to take on Sir Alex Ferguson.
Stretford will work closely with Rooney in the next two months as he plots his exit from United, having asked to leave in May. It will be the second big move of his career, and nothing looks like standing in the way this time with Stretford likely to use his master contact Jorge Mendes to negotiate a transfer abroad.
Clients: Wayne Rooney, Harry Redknapp, Roberto Mancini
1. Jorge Mendes
Few are better connected in world football than Mendes, the king of football agents. Having secured a monopoly on Portuguese football years ago, he has already made big money this summer on deals for James Rodriguez, Joao Moutinho, Radamel Falcao and Jose Mourinho, with more to come.
The jewel in his crown is Cristiano Ronaldo, wanted by Manchester United, whose next move is likely to be a lucrative one. Monaco have reportedly offered Mendes £10million if he can bring Ronaldo to France, while Madrid will pay him to sign the player up to a new contract. An interesting summer awaits.
Clients: Cristiano Ronaldo, Luis Nani, Angel Di Maria, Victor Valdes