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16 Apr 2018

Wolves: Is super-agent Jorge Mendes’ influence on the club fair?

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Espirito Santo has been refreshing

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Jorge Mendes the super-agent

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Have Wolves done anything wrong?

(Photo credit: Andreas Fischler)

Wolves' 2013/14 League One campaign under Kenny Jackett seems a distant memory now promotion back to the Premier League is mathematically confirmed.

Espirito Santo has been refreshing

Wanderers have entertained in a league known more for grit than flair, much credit must go to manager Nuno Espírito Santo, who has been a breath of fresh air in the Championship.

The Portuguese supremo's philosophy - in a league where the old guard of Neil Warnock and, until recently, Mick McCarthy rule the roost - has been refreshing.

“Dialogue. It is about sharing. One of the big things a group dynamic demands is to be able to listen and really understand, to learn from listening to others. You must always have space to share opinions, but at the same time be ready to make decisions that fit the way you think is better. This is when you recognise that you are ready to be a leader, to be the main figure of something. This is the feeling I had when I became a head coach for the first time,” Nuno said to The Guardian.

A democratic, commendable approach to football. 

Jorge Mendes the super-agent

Many feel, however, that the deeper behind-the-scenes goings-on at Wolves need questioning. Has the Midland's club stunning return to the world’s richest league been unfairly facilitated by a super-agent Jorge Mendes?

According to reports in the Daily Telegraph, several Premier League and Championship sides wish to discuss Mendes’ business links to Wolves owners Fosun International at their quarterly shareholder's meeting on Friday, after claims it represents a conflict of interest for the Portuguese agent. 

Since the club was taken over by the Chinese conglomerate in July 2016 they have acquired several of the Portuguese’s clients. Manager Santo, for one, Championship record signing Ruben Neves, and £13 million man Hélder Costa are two other high profile examples. 

Moreover, a subsidiary of Fosun International even bought a 20 percent stake in Mendes’s GestiFute agency, and Nuno’s major roles as a coach have all been with clubs where Mendes is very well connected: Rio Ave, Valencia, Porto, and Wolves.

The 44-year-old manager admitted that he had received “nice options” from other clubs but that he had been impressed with Wolves’ facilities and the challenge of testing himself in England. To questions from local reporters about Mendes’ influence, Nuno responded only: “I am a client of the best agent in the world. I do my job; he does his job.”

Have Wolves done anything wrong?

Wolves fans will argue that John Ruddy, Ryan Bennett, and Barry Douglas have been vital to their success this season, none of whom are Mendes clients. They could also say the media obsession surrounding the link is ridiculous given that most professional football clubs have relationships with certain agents. 

Indeed, even figures involved in the game see no issue with the arrangement. Controversial former Crystal Palace owner Simon Jordan hit out at criticisms on Alan Brazil’s TalkSport breakfast show.

"Wolves have done nothing wrong, clearly there is an association with Jorge Mendes and the owners and there is a benefit in kind opportunity. There is no moral issue. There is no logistical issue. There is no legal issue. There are sour grapes from clubs in the Championship because Wolves have a relationship with a super-agent. If other clubs want a super-agent - get one!" 

It must be noted that nor Mendes or Fosun International have broken any rules. However, for many footballing observers, these rules need to be re-evaluated, and the relationship between the pair needs to be looked at to ensure a level playing field for clubs.

There is undoubtedly a wider problem regarding agents unfairly flexing their muscles at play within the game that needs addressing. 

Is it morally right for an agent to be so heavily involved with one club? Probably not. Do such relationships detract from the chances of lesser-clubs achieving greatness? Definitely.

It's a real shame is that the focus on Mendes takes the gloss off a wonderful exercise in attacking football for Nuno and Wolves this season - the former Valencia coach has done a grand job.

Unfortunately for their fans, Wolves' model could prove a catalyst for change. The English Football League have announced that the matter had been raised at a meeting of the board, and they have promised to formally consult with the club. 

Do you think Wolves have done anything wrong? Let us know in the comments section below

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