Attempting to woo a player’s family during a transfer or contract negotiation is nothing new. After all, who wouldn’t want their loved one to sign on with a club that’s generous enough to provide a home for mum, dad… and the family pooch.
However, such discussions take on a somewhat different complexion when you take into account the increasing trend of footballers opting to keep their business dealings in-house – and employing members of their family to act as their representatives.
Perhaps born out of a frustration with the loathsome, leech-like tendencies of football’s so-called super agents (fused with a hearty dash of letting your family cash in), having parents, siblings – or even your wife – look after players’ best interests is increasingly common.
So as rumours swirl that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has been on the blower to Kylian Mbappe’s agent (who just so happens to be his old man) in an attempt to convince the striker to move to Anfield, we’re taking a look at all the other players who have kept it in the family…
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1. Nicolas Anelka
Perhaps the most famous of all footballers to have recruited family members to look after his supposed best interests. In the summer of 1999, hotshot striker Anelka demanded a move away from Arsenal – which was reportedly engineered by his “adviser” brothers, who wanted a slice of a lucrative transfer fee.
The Frenchman’s siblings got their way, as Anelka made an ill-fated move to Real Madrid for a whopping £23m just two years after joining the Gunners. The brothers got their payday, but the lethal finisher later admitted he regretted leaving Highbury.
“Up to a certain point, Neymar is my son, but from the moment he leaves home, he becomes my business.” So said the striker’s namesake father back in 2011, the puppet master who controls all of the Brazilian’s transfer and contract dealings.
Courtesy of mega-money transfers to Barcelona and PSG, plus contract renewals and countless sponsorship agreements, it’s estimated that Neymar Sr has earned a staggering £100m to date in commissions. And you wonder why there are rumours his son is pining for a move back to Barcelona…
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3. Lionel Messi
The Argentine’s extraordinary talent was clear to see from a very young age. And it certainly didn’t go unnoticed by his father, Jorge, who has acted as Messi’s representative in contract negotiations throughout his entire career.
With Messi’s current deal estimated to be worth in the region of £500,000 per week, it’s believed his dad has now pocketed around £75m in contract commissions.
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4. Juan Mata
Mata’s namesake father switched his own professional playing boots for an agent’s slick suit in the early 1990s and now represents numerous players – including a certain Salomon Rondon, of all people.
Of course he has also managed his son’s career along the way, orchestrating big-money moves from Valencia to Chelsea and onwards to Manchester United.
5. Mauro Icardi
It’s rumoured that the Argentine striker is in line for a £70m transfer this summer – which would make his happy marriage all the more blissful. That’s because Icardi is represented by his wife, Wanda, who is dubbed “the most powerful woman in Italian football”.
It was not the smoothest of starts to their relationship, however: Wanda’s ex-husband also happens to be one of Icardi’s former teammates at Sampdoria, Maxi Lopez. Their own marriage broke down after her affair with Icardi was uncovered. Wanda’s controversial husband substitution led to Icardi being banished by the national team – he’s earned just eight caps in seven years.
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6. Callum Hudson-Odoi
In September 2019, highly-rated Chelsea youngster Callum Hudson-Odoi put pen to paper on a new five-year contract worth £120,000 per week – a mere jump of 400% on his previous salary. The lucrative deal came just months after he handed in a transfer request in an effort to join Bayern Munich.
And who is the agent behind this glorious demonstration in the art of negotiation? None other than Bismark Hudson-Odoi, a former Ghana international… and Callum’s dad.
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7. Marko Arnautovic
Arnautovic’s career has had more “will he, won’t he?” moments than the Love Is Blind season finale. In January 2019, Chinese outfit Shanghai SIPG bid £35m for the West Ham forward, an offer his agent – who also happens to be his brother, Danijel – demanded the club accept. This was despite the fact that just weeks earlier, Danijel had confirmed Marko wanted to stay in the Premier League because that’s “where the top players are”.
The Far East move was put on ice when the Austrian signed a new deal with the Hammers which included a 20% pay rise. However, the ink had barely dried by the time Arnautovic eventually joined Shanghai SIPG in a £22m deal a few months later, for which Danijel received a healthy fee. And they say agents are motivated solely by money, eh?
8. Eden Hazard
Quite remarkably, for many years the former Blues winger did not have an agent and was in control of his own dealings. That was until his dad, Thierry, was granted his agent’s licence in early 2019.
As a result, he became the key intermediary who brokered Eden’s transfer to Real Madrid in a deal that could eventually be worth an eye-watering £130m. Included in that, of course, would be some very healthy agent fees.
Nice work if you can get it, although we can’t help but suggest Thierry invests some of that windfall into hiring a personal trainer to help his son keep off the summer weight in future…
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