If the Manchester United campaign has been haunted by inconsistency, there is a constant thorn in their side – in the form of super agent Mino Raiola.
The outspoken Italian is the agent of the midfielder of the Red Devils, Paul Pogba, who since last summer has been pushing for a move from Old Trafford. The 26-year-old has a contract until 2021, with the Premier League side having an option to extend it with an extra year.
And now that Raiola is fiercely defending his client and playing a role in United’s failed attempt to sign Erling Braut Haaland, it’s fair to say that the relationship between club and agent has become tense.
Here, Sportsmail looks at how events and the war of words took place this season.
Mino Raiola’s comments about Paul Pogba were a constant annoyance for Manchester United
Since last summer, Pogba (right) has tried to make its way out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side
July 5, 2019 – Raiola publicly states that he is trying to build an exit for Pogba. “Everyone knows Paul’s willingness to go further,” he told the Times. ‘We are working on that. Everyone knows what Paul’s feelings are. Everyone within the club, from the manager to the owner, knows Paul’s wishes. “
July 9 – Raiola says that Pogba “did nothing wrong” in trying to force an exit and asks United to stop protecting his client from outside criticism.
“The player has done nothing wrong, he is respectful and professional in every way,” he said.
‘The club has known its feelings for a long time, it is a shame that other people only criticize without the right information and I am also sorry that the club does not take a position on this. Hopefully there will be a satisfactory solution for all parties soon. “
10th of July – Solskjaer hits back and explains during the pre-season tour of United in Perth: ‘As far as I know there are no bids for players. We are Man United and we do not have to sell. It is business as usual. Paul has never been a concern to me. He works hard, he is a real professional and a proud boy, the same answer again.
“I can’t sit here talking about what Paul and his agent are saying. He has a few years left from his contract and he has been fantastic. I’m here to talk about the season … pre-season is coming. Paul never put himself out of the team, always did his best and I can’t report anything. Agents talk all the time and we haven’t had any bids, that’s all I can say about this.
‘I’m not just talking about Mino Raiola, there are many agents who take care of their customers. We have players and a team that I have to take care of. “
During their preseason trip through Australia, Solskjaer had to maintain that there were no bids for Pogba
16 September – Gary Neville accuses Raiola as a “shame” and says Manchester United “must stop working with him.”
“His agent is a disgrace and has been a disgrace throughout Europe – not just for Manchester United,” Neville told TV2. “They must stop working with him. He does not have the values that you want in your club.
“My opinion is that Manchester United does not have to negotiate with him. He will try to arrange a transfer for his player and will try to take part of the transfer fee. That’s how he works. “
Gary Neville (left) accuses Raiola as a “shame” and says that “must stop working with him”
the 20th of December – Raiola emphasizes that Pogba is not looking for a way out of Old Trafford, but calls on the club to form a clear identity for the midfielder.
“I think Paul really went home. Paul could have gone somewhere else. But he really chose to go home with his heart. Paul is a very, very nice person, “he told the Telegraaf.
“Paul wants to be successful and happy and wants to win prizes and he would like to do that with Manchester United.”
23 December – Marcel insists that he does not trust Raiola after his last public statement about Pogba’s ambitions with United. After their 2-0 defeat on Vicarage Road, which was Pogba’s first appearance since September, Neville said, “That’s good. That’s great news. In the end I look forward to seeing him in the club for the next two or three years.
“If he is, I’ll be happy because a flying, fit, motivated and dedicated Paul Pogba is a huge asset to Manchester United. But I don’t believe a word his agent says. I don’t believe a word coming from that man’s mouth. “
In December, Neville insists that he does not trust what Pogba’s agent Raiola says in the media
December 30 – Raiola hits United after not signing his client Haaland from RB Salzburg. The Red Devils missed the striker, now in Borussia Dortmund, after he had refused to meet the demands of his representatives.
It is understood that Dortmund has agreed to give Raiola and the father of the attacker Alf-Inge Haaland a significant part of the future sales value of the 19-year-old, which the hierarchy in Old Trafford was reluctant to impose.
“I don’t know if Manchester United is informing this, but if that is the case, they cover their own losses and I find that strange and disappointing,” Raiola told The Telegraph.
“There was no fight between me and (Vice-President of the United States) Ed Woodward. It was just a normal negotiation and the player has chosen a different path. If they want to blame someone, blame me, but the player is happy. He made his choice and we went through a normal process. “
Erling Braut Haaland chose Borussia Dortmund over Manchester United in the January window
December 30 – Speaking of Sky Sports, Raiola insists that his client remain a United player for the rest of the season before adding that his point of contact is at Ed Woodward club, not Solskjaer.
“Paul has always respected Manchester United, just as Manchester United has always respected Paul,” said the Italian. “And the only one who speaks for Manchester United and for Paul is Ole, because he comments in the newspapers and in the press.
“I continue what he (Solskjaer) says. He (Pogba) won’t move, and that’s okay. We are good with them. Paul struggles a bit with his injury that we tried to resolve and I think that is now our greatest interest.
‘So if Ole has ideas about my player and he wants to talk to me about it, he knows my number. And until that moment I talk to Ed Woodward, because that is the person I talk to at the club. I never spoke to Ole.
‘So I do not know. I only know that Paul respects him, loves him for what he has done to him in the past. And that’s it, that’s all I know about Ole. “
In December, Raiola talks about Pogba staying in United for the rest of the season
December 31 – A day later Raiola says that Pogba should be part of a team that is fighting for trophies.
“Yes, I can, but in a club that I hope will fight for the competition and hopefully the Champions League,” he told Sky Sports News in response to whether his client would be with United next year.
‘Is that weird? Am I the only one who worries? Does the owner not worry? I think everyone in love with Manchester United is worried about that.
‘I’m worried about that for my player. As long as Paul is in Manchester United, he wants to win trophies with Manchester United.
“That’s the kind of player he is and he won’t act differently. They are clearly not where they think they should be. “
December 31 – On the same day, Raiola launched another destructive attack on the Red Devils, claiming that the club is a “problem” for his client and insisting that he would not help any of his other players move to Old Trafford. Raiola also suggested that the club is so dysfunctional that it would have ruined the career of Diego Maradona, Pele and Paolo Maldini if they had played there under the current setup.
“The problem with Pogba is Manchester United. It is a club that has no contact with reality and without a sports project, “he told the Italian news channel La Repubblica.
‘I wouldn’t take anyone there, they would even ruin Maradona, Pele and Maldini. Paul needs a club and a team, just like Juventus used to be. “
But a day later – Raiola says that United would spoil ‘Maradona, Pele and Maldini’ if they played
January 1, 2020 – Solskjaer claims that Pogba’s “people” advise him to undergo surgery on his awkward ankle injury in a thinly veiled excavation. After the 2-0 defeat of United by Arsenal on New Year’s Day, the Norwegian expressed his opinion about the situation.
Asked when Pogba was expected to return, he said: ‘Maybe three or four weeks, I don’t know. He has been advised to undergo surgery by his people and he will probably do that. “
January 1st – During a defeat of BT Sport during the defeat of United at Arsenal, club legend Rio Ferdinand Raiola criticized for his recent outbursts.
“If I sat there someone who advised Paul, I would say,” Go and talk. You’re your own man. Your voice will be heard the loudest. Don’t let your agent speak. Shut down your agent. “
“You speak and add some clarity to this situation, so your fans know where you are, your teammates know where you are and your club, your manager, the people who matter, know where you are.”
Rio Ferdinand slammed Raiola’s decision to speak out and called on Pogba to stop him
January 2nd – Raiola says he has not forced Manchester United to buy back his client in 2016 for a then-pounded record of £ 89 million at the time. They initially released him to Juventus in 2012 after Pogba was reluctant to sign a new contract.
“I didn’t threaten anyone in Manchester United with a gun to buy Paul Pogba back,” he told Voetbal International.
“Alex Ferguson went directly against me and Paul, you can, but where was he when his successors bought Paul back?”
January 15 – With Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford linked to joining Raiola’s agency, the former United coach Rene Meulensteen warned that he would do so – claiming that it would cause problems for the club because the Italian puts his own interests first.
“It’s really strange for me,” he told talkSPORT. “Sometimes these agents get way too much control, but that’s how the system works, unfortunately. It is crazy and it causes problems for managers. I think that a club the size of Manchester United should be able to take care of that itself. “
“Pogba was already with him, but now Lingard and Rashford are going,” he added. ‘It is not a good development in my opinion. His way is first Raiola and then the player, and not the interest of the club. “
January 22nd – Solskjaer confirms that the Red Devils withdrew to sign Haaland because of his agent Raiola.
“It is important that we use common sense,” he said during a press conference. ‘There are other things when you draw players that you have to keep under control. You cannot control agents by giving buy-out clauses and the like.
“That has been advertised around, that is for me, we must have control.”
Last month, Solskjaer confirmed that he withdrew from the race to sign Haaland because of Raiola
January 22nd – Raiola reveals that he has never spoken to Solskjaer, but remains open with Woodward in communicating Pogba’s desire to leave Manchester United.
Raiola said about his relationship with United: “It’s good. It is a professional, honest relationship. I’ve never spoken with Ole … but my relationship with Ed [Woodward] is transparent. I expect my players to be happy and the clubs.
‘For now he must be fit, then I have to make both parties happy. If that is not the case, there are other ways to solve that. I’m not saying anything for sure. Today he is not happy because he is not playing. “
February 14th – When linking Pogba to a return to Juventus in the summer, Raiola describes Italy as a ‘home’ for the 26-year-old.
“Italy is like Paul’s home. He wouldn’t mind going back to Juve, but we’ll see what will happen after the euro, “he said after Juve’s Coppa Italia first leg draw on AC Milan.
“Paul wants to play at the best level, but he cannot escape through Manchester United if they are in a difficult situation.”
Raiola says that “Italy is like home” for Pogba – who spent four years with Juventus there
15 February – Raiola hints that Pogba will probably leave United if the club does not qualify for the Champions League. In a conversation with the Italian media, he said: “He [Pogba] never lost his smile, but a great player is clearly not just going to Manchester United not to challenge the Champions League or the Premier League title.
“It would be a bull for me not to admit that Paul wants to stay at the highest level. But Pogba will first and foremost try to do his best and then at the end of the season we will see if he should stay or not. “
Raiola hinted that Pogba will probably leave United if they do not qualify for the Champions League
February 17 – Solskjaer hits Raiola back in their latest spit – and explains the future of Pogba in the hands of United, not the agent.
“Paul is our player and not Mino’s,” said Solskjaer. “I didn’t sit down and told Paul to tell his agent what to say. I didn’t speak to Mino, that’s for sure. “
Solskjaer insists that he will determine the future of Pogba, not his agent Raiola, while speculation is rumbling
February 17 – Just 17 minutes before United’s Premier League match in Chelsea, Raiola returned with more excavations at Solskjaer, via Twitter, insisting that Pogba is not a ‘prisoner’.
In an astonishing rage, he posted three photos on social media that said: “Pogba is not mine and certainly not the property of Solskjaer. Paul is Paul Pogba. You can’t own a person in the UK or anywhere else for a long time.
“I hope Solskjaer does not want to suggest that Paul is his prisoner. But before Solskjaer makes comments about things I say, he needs to better inform himself about the content of what has been said.
‘I am a free citizen who can think and express my thoughts. Until now I was perhaps too nice to him. Solskjaer just has to remember things he said to Paul in the summer.
“I think Solskjaer can be frustrated for several reasons and confuse a number of problems. I think Solskjaer should have other concerns. At least if I were him, I’d do it. “
In an astonishing rage, Raiola posted three photos on social media that gave his opinion
Raiola insists that he has the right to express his opinion and says that Solskjaer “must inform himself”
The super agent also pointed out that the Red Devils boss must be concerned about other things
February 17 – After speaking on Monday after the 2-0 win on Monday at the Blues, Solskjaer was wary to be drawn into another word war with the outspoken Italian.
When asked about the outburst of Raiola’s social media, Solskjaer said: ‘Well, I don’t have to comment on Mino and what he says through the media. I can probably talk to him myself.
‘Everyone has a voice and your opinion. Things are said about us that you want to comment on, but you’d rather not do that and it’s smarter that you don’t respond to many different things. “
February 17 – Roy Keane urges Manchester United to sell Pogba this summer after the midfielder’s agent got embroiled in a new word war with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Keane said the club “had to look at the bigger picture” after Solskjaer was questioned about Raiola’s remark that Solskjaer hoped he didn’t suggest that Pogba was his “prisoner.”
Keane told Sky Sports: “If it’s not good for the club and people almost laugh at you, these agents, then let these guys go.” Look at the bigger picture. We are talking about a great club like Manchester United. Don’t go after these agents and those players who, I think, don’t really want the bottom line to be at the club.
“The officers don’t want them to be there, I don’t think Pogba wants to be there. Just shake hands and say “Go ahead”. He will go this summer. He will go in the summer, 100 percent. “
Former United captain Roy Keane urges United to sell Pogba this summer in the light of Raiola
February 17 – Neville thinks that Manchester United’s ongoing war of words with Raiola can only end when Pogba leaves the club and cannot understand why United associates with Raiola because he has been a thorn in his eyes for years.
He told Sky Sports: “It ends in Pogba when you leave Manchester United. What the club must do is take a position on that agent. He has confused them with Pogba and others for years.
“I will never know why they let themselves be played. He is a serious thorn for them. United must be strong and not do business with him and tell players that if they are represented by him, we will not make any deals with you.
“Raiola always tries to embarrass the club in public. He defends his player at the end of the day, but what Solskjaer was definitely not was aggressive. He said they spent £ 90 million on a player and they want him to stay in the club and play well.
“He didn’t claim ownership, but Raiola wants to create situations where Pogba is out of the club and Raiola wants his next payday. He has made tens of millions of him and will continue to do so. He is the golden egg of Mino. “
Neville feels that Pogba will leave, while Raiola “publicly tries to embarrass the club”
February 18 – In retaliation to Neville’s comments, Raiola focuses on the United States – labeling him as “great know-how.”
Raiola, speaking on talkSPORT, said about Neville: ‘Gary Neville has such a great know-how of football that I am surprised that his Salford City is not yet in the Premier League.
“He must be on the board of directors of United and ask them for a job, I don’t care what he says.”
February 18 – The 52-year-old remained in the spotlight and went to Sky Sports later that day to declare that there are no problems in his relationship with Manchester United boss Solskjaer, despite their recent backlog.
Raiola tried to extend an olive branch to Solskjaer and said: “I will contact Ole because nothing serious is going on. I certainly had no intention of respecting him or the club.
‘With players at Manchester United, I only want the best for the team and the club. I have nothing against Ole and I don’t think he has anything against me.
“I just thought it was not the right response to say that Paul is Manchester United. I just wanted to respond to everyone who said that, because you employ a player, so you own him and you can do whatever you want with him. “
Speaking of the future of Pogba, Raiola added: ‘Paul is very involved with the club, there is no doubt about that.
“Paul has a contract with Manchester United and wants to get fit again as soon as possible and back in the team to be a positive factor until the end of the season.
‘There are no conversations at the moment [over Pogba’s future]. He is only committed to Manchester United and respects his contract. Everyone is worried about the departure of Pogba, but I am not worried.
“We are open to conversations after he comes back [from injury]. There is a contract for the moment and the only thing he focuses on is going back to fitness.
‘There can’t be much interest for this type of player because not many clubs can pay him. There are currently no conversations with clubs. “
Raiola tried to hand out an olive branch to Solskjaer by not explaining any problems between the couple
February 18 – Tuesday was a busy day, with Neville marking Raiola as “a leech” and claiming that their word war was “the best birthday wish.”
Neville, who celebrated his 45th birthday, was angry with Raiola by saying that United should never do business with the Italian, while star-man Pogba continues to push for a move. Neville predicted that the saga would end when Pogba left in the summer.
Raiola struck back by calling the Sky Sports expert a “big know-how” and said “he could fuck himself.”
That provoked a barb from Neville, who tweeted: “The best birthday wish I could have gotten from this leech!”
Neville waved Raiola “a bloodsucker” when United legend celebrated his turning 45 on Tuesday
So what’s happening now?
Neither of the parties has worked out well in all honesty and it has gone too far to resign and admit position.
The feud between United and Raiola made them miss out on Haaland, who already won rave reviews for Borussia Dortmund with 11 goals in seven games. Haaland told Solskjaer that he wanted to join Manchester United in December, but because the Raiola relationship was already soured, that deal might have been doomed from the ground up.
The future of Pogba is also a point of contention in recent quarrels between the agent and the club and missing Haaland plus losing their record signature – again – is far from a radiance.
But this long-running feud also reflects poorly Raiola, burning bridges with one of the biggest clubs in world football. His antics also serve as a warning to other parties that his customers want – few will want him to dictate the terms of deals and ultimately adhere to the ransom of a king.
Although he may think he has the upper hand, Raiola has shown his true colors in public and his public spit with United cannot be good for business?