Mino Raiola Mk II? Meet Rafaela Pimenta, the successor to football's super agent

Rafaela Pimenta Mino Raiola GFXGoal / Getty

Mino Raiola always had a talent for standing out in one way or another throughout his 54-year life.

Whether in one of his many family restaurants, where he was responsible for everything - from administrative tasks to entertaining the guests.

A constant guest at the time was Andre van Eerden, president of the second division club HFC Haarlem, whom Raiola constantly annoyed with his criticism of club policies and kept telling him how to do it right - until young Mino was hired as sporting director in his early 20s.

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Of course, that was just the beginning of young Mino's career as a big figure in the football business.

Later in many media-effective events as a long-established agent, he would command attention of the football world.

There are other consulting giants, like Jorge Mendes or Pini Zahavi, but Raiola always made the headlines.

Like Sir Alex Ferguson, with whom he negotiated a new contract for young Paul Pogba in 2012, who refused the legendary Scotsman's offer and told him: "It's an offer that even my Chihuahuas wouldn't sign."

Ferguson then publicly called Raiola a "sucker".

Various insults followed, but the Italian, who died on April 30, 2022, didn't really care what other people thought or said about him.

As long as he was able to assert the interests of his players, he accepted everything. Even when the cranky Scot denied his intelligence.

Ultimately, Raiola didn't even care what his players thought of him, after all, they were just business partners, but most of his clients developed a very close relationship with him. Raiola did not give a single player a consulting contract, instead a relationship of trust that was ultimately much stronger than any piece of paper.

Haaland and Co. lost their consigliere

For Rafaela Pimenta, as a professor of law, that must have been quite daunting at first. 

The lawyer knows that in the tough world of business, what counts in the end is what is written and signed on paper. Especially when there is so much money in circulation and people are inclined to give up attributes like trust and promises for a few more bills.

But she came to terms with it and went the Raiola way. For more than 18 years, the Brazilian and the Italian worked side by side in an ever-growing consultancy empire. 

Raiola was a suspicious guy who didn't let many people near him. Only his cousin Vincenzo, a communications expert, a scout, a secretary and Rafaela work at his agency One, based in Monaco.

Rafaela PimentaPrime Video

And yet, for years, Raiola seemed like a one-man operation. When he died, many people worried that his players would have to get through life without their consigliere. It was almost touching how many seriously asked themselves what would become of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Erling Haaland and Co.

Out of decency, no one should have approached the players yet, but there will certainly be some advisors who want to help themselves pick off the One empire

However, the bounce rate will probably not be too high – if at all. It was only after Raiola's death that it became clear that it was not just a one-man operation and what a significant role Rafaela Pimenta, who is the only non-family person with shares in the company, played in the agency.

Rafaela Pimenta brought two players to Bayern

She didn't even give rise to the suspicion that she was unable to act. First she bagged Erling Haaland's move to Manchester City, then transferred Noussair Mazraoui and Ryan Gravenberch from Ajax to Bayern Munich and is currently working on the final details of Paul Pogba's return to Juventus. 

Pimenta is an important person of trust for the latter. In the new Amazon documentary "The Pogmentary", she plays an important role and may get real publicity for the first time.

She can be seen in several sequences. You can see Pogba always asking the Brazilian for advice - even when it's not about football. When Pogba talks about Pimenta with his kids, she's "Auntie Rafa". She is close to the family, but negotiators should not be fooled by her carefulness.

In The Athletic , an unnamed sporting director at a Premier League club describes her as not only "the most important person in football nobody knows" but also "the toughest negotiator in football". When she sits at the table, the lawyer comes out of her. Connoisseurs say that Raiola got the clients, brought them together with the clubs, but Pimenta was the main player when it came to the contract details and worked on their counterparts down to the last detail.

Rafaela PimentaReuters

She doesn't know any different. After studying at the University of Sao Paulo, Pimenta worked for former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. She held an important position in the cartel office and was probably already notorious at the time for her rigorous approach.

Rafaela Pimenta: From Rivaldo to football

She was a passionate football player, but she got to know the business through contacts. When Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio founded a club called Guaratingueta in 1998, Pimenta stood by their side. When a benefit game was organised as a result, a guest from Europe also came: Mino Raiola. They got to know and appreciate each other and soon started working together. They trusted each other and had their roles.

Raiola was the public man who often wore his heart on his sleeve and tangled with many. Even with his players, who knew what they had in him and therefore usually always remained loyal to him. 

Only a few players who left Raiola were on record. Romelu Lukaku is one of them, Borussia Monchengladbach star Marcus Thuram is said to have left the agency shortly before Raiola's death.

Pimenta was the doer in the background. Only what is allowed to penetrate gets through to the public. There is not even reliable information about how old she really is and what her family situation is. She doesn't need PR to do her job well.

It is thanks to Raiola and Pimenta that they have had so much success. It is only logical that she now takes on even more responsibility. 

In the next few years, Raiola's sons, Mario and Gabriele, may also play a role within the empire. They are said to have already gotten a taste of the business and will learn more about the business over the next few years. 

Aunt Rafa will surely help him with that.