A Golden Revolution
What does China, Wolverhampton and Cristiano Ronaldo have in common? It’s a question that would have had you wracking your brains just over 12 months ago. It sounds like the beginning or a really bad, non-PC joke. The answer is well-documented now of course, thanks in no part to the storm being whipped up by a famous old football club in the heart of the West Midlands.
The name Wolverhampton Wanderers reverberates around the history of English football. There were famous European nights from the 50s through to the 70s, domestic titles dotted throughout the club’s storied past, but it had fallen on harder times in the last 30 years. Fleeting spells in the Premier League notwithstanding, the club was no longer part of the traditional elite. The sleeping giant needed awakening, an injection of some sort to rouse it into life. Enter Fosun Group.
The Chinese consortium purchased Wolves from Steve Morgan’s stale ownership in August 2017. They brought with them optimism, ambition and no shortage of cash. They also brought with them a very curious relationship with a particular super-agent, which brings me back to the original question: Jorge Mendes.
In A Hurry Fosun Group & Leading Football Agent Jorge Mendes
A flurry of signings have been made which have come from Mendes’ stable or players, while Fosun retain a stake in his agency. Given the portfolio that Fosun have built up and the governmental backing of Chinese businesses getting involved in China, it’s a unique situation. The fact is agents having close relationships with football clubs is old hat.
While the elite in this country will happily conduct their business with a ‘known associate’ – Mino Raiola not so much has a foot in the door at Manchester United, but his protrusive gut is blocking the entrance – they can do so in the knowledge it raises little suspicion. It’s just big clubs, spending big money. The fact of the matter is the Top 6 in the Premier League is a closed shop, so recruitment has to be more creative. Agents have such a mistrust in the eye of the media, but it is the way of the footballing world.
Ruben Neves, Diogo Jota, Helder Costa and Ivan Cavaleiro being at Wolves is opening a door for them as much as it is for the club itself. Promotion brings its own riches for players who may have been languishing on the benches at Porto, Atletico Madrid, Benfica and Monaco respectively.
The ‘Big City, Bright Lights’ effect of the Premier League draws the attention of all and Mendes’ role in creating opportunities for these players, as well as manager Nuno Espirito Santo is only discussed vehemently in the media – broadcast and social. Yes, managers have commented on the wealth available to Nuno, but Mendes is hardly spoken about by opposition coaches.
Wolves are happy to associate themselves with Mendes and it’s not unheard of within the game. The sleeping giant has awoken –the Premier League awaits.
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