Agent Pimenta: A Reigning Force in the Transfer Market with Haaland & Pogba as Key Players

Rafaela Pimenta stands as one of football’s most influential agents, boasting clients like Erling Haaland, Paul Pogba, and Matthijs de Ligt. In an exclusive interview, she offers insights into her daily life, which captivates millions of fans, and discusses her prominent clients, her collaboration with Mino Raiola, and the role of women in football business.

On a Tuesday, June 11th, at 13:45, we prepare to send a Zoom link to Rafaela Pimenta. Though scheduled for 14:00, the unpredictable nature of football means nothing is guaranteed. Pimenta, fresh from business in Bucharest and en route to Germany for Euro 2024, adds an air of excitement to the interview.By 14:45, we learn the call will commence at 15:00, lasting thirty minutes due to Pimenta’s pressing commitments. We eagerly agree, yet find ourselves immersed in a discussion too captivating to curtail after half an hour.

Pimenta effortlessly shares her story as we hang on every word. The call could have extended for another hour, with more “off the record” insights and endless anecdotes, but alas, time constraints intervene. We extend our gratitude to Pimenta for graciously granting us an additional 17 minutes of invaluable interview time.

Hello Rafaela, it’s truly an honor to have this opportunity to speak with you. You’re often depicted in major newspapers as a ‘shadow agent’. With a degree in international law from Sao Paulo and over two decades immersed in the football world, your journey has been remarkable. Meeting Mino Raiola (may he rest in peace) was a pivotal moment for you, marking the beginning of a fruitful collaboration. Could you share with us your background and how you ventured into this realm before crossing paths with Raiola? How did a young Brazilian lawyer like yourself manage to join forces with an Italian-Dutch agent?

“Hello Pablo, thank you for your kind words. Reflecting on my background brings a smile to my face because it all unfolded somewhat unexpectedly…

“As you mentioned, I earned a law degree and was teaching international law in Brazil. Then, one day, a friend approached me with an opportunity. He was looking to break into the football industry and needed someone with expertise in laws, contracts, and legal matters. He invited me to a meeting with a potential client, a foreign one, hinting that we might collaborate. At the time, I had just graduated from university.

“So, I attended the meeting and quickly realized it was with the company owned by Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio, who were in the process of establishing a football club and exploring overseas transfers. Among the individuals involved was Mino Raiola. That’s where our paths first crossed. I vividly recall Mino’s interest in understanding Brazilian football law. I introduced myself and attempted to explain, but he challenged every point I made. He’d say, ‘No, it doesn’t work like that, you can’t do this,’ and so forth. It became apparent to me that Mino believed he understood Brazilian law better than I did. So, I excused myself and left. Surprisingly, that decision led Mino to reach out to me again.

“Nearly a year later, while I was working for the Brazilian government, Mino tracked me down. I remember the moment distinctly (laughs)… I was in Brasilia. My phone rang, displaying an unfamiliar number. I answered, and he introduced himself as Raiola, expressing that he had been searching for me for months but couldn’t find my contact information. Curiously, he explained that he was drawn to my refusal to simply agree with him, as everyone else in Brazil had done. He recounted how others had eagerly embraced his proposals, leading to his investments there. However, my dissent intrigued him, prompting him to seek collaboration. He asked if I could assist him.

“I replied, ‘Certainly, but only if you’re willing to listen. If you’re not receptive, there’s little I can do. I’m just a lawyer.’ He agreed, and thus began our partnership. I cautioned him, ‘Keep in mind that I’m not entirely available; I work for the state.’ He assured me that our communication would be sporadic. I agreed, and soon enough, ‘sporadic’ turned into reality.

“One fine Sunday, while I was asleep, I received a call informing me that Mino was transferring a player to Argentina and requested my presence. Given my lack of experience in transfers, I hesitated. Nevertheless, Mino assured me that everything was arranged, and I simply needed to accompany the player, verify the agreement, and ensure everything proceeded smoothly.

“I reluctantly agreed and embarked on the journey with the player to Argentina. Upon arrival, I discovered that nothing had been finalized. There was no agreement, no contract – everything needed to be arranged. An individual awaited us at the airport, eager to share their story.

“I immediately informed Mino, who initially doubted the situation. Nonetheless, I assured him I’d find a solution. And I did. The player was successfully transferred to Boca Juniors. Thus, that marked my initiation into the football world, and I must say, it was an incredibly intense experience.”

Quite an intriguing anecdote… It highlights the rapid pace of events in football, doesn’t it?


In a Le Monde article published on September 9th, 2022, titled ‘Who is Rafaela Pimenta, Paul Pogba’s lawyer?’, the journalist wrote: ‘Since Mino Raiola’s passing on April 30th, she has taken up the mantle. Residing in Monaco, where Raiola’s company was headquartered, Rafaela Pimenta embraces discretion, much like her mentor valued flamboyance. Fluent in eight languages, she maintains a low profile in the media and abstains from social media.’ Is discretion the cornerstone of your profession?

“Yes, indeed. It aligns with my professional training in law, emphasizing confidentiality, and safeguarding client interests. This mindset is inherent to legal practice. When you enter this profession, your aim is to advocate for others and protect their rights. It’s inherently defensive.

“Hence, for me, discretion is paramount in this profession. Service providers – that’s what we are – must prioritize discretion and confidentiality. It’s integral to our role. For instance, when I visit a dentist, I don’t expect them to divulge my personal information to their colleagues or the world (laughs).

“I believe players have become accustomed to excessive exposure by their entourage. Those around them often seek undue prominence. However, this isn’t beneficial. The spotlight belongs on the players.

“As agents, our role is to ensure the players’ affairs progress smoothly, remaining in the background. Therefore, discretion is fundamental in my profession. Nonetheless, it’s a profession subject to considerable media attention, driven by curiosity. This aspect can also be advantageous. Shedding light on certain situations can benefit our clients.”

Was this discretion inherent in you, or did you develop it during your studies or professional experience?

“With Mino by my side (laughs)… It’s difficult to say whether it was inherent or not. I lacked substantial professional experience beforehand. My prior experiences were as a teacher, and as you know, teachers tend to talk a lot (laughs)!

“Subsequently, while working in government, the environment was distinct. Transitioning into football marked my first professional encounter in this realm, necessitating swift learning. Nonetheless, my university education instilled the importance of discretion in legal practice, which undoubtedly influenced my approach.”

In 2022, you took over the Erling Haaland case…

“(She cuts in) That’s not entirely accurate… Let’s set the record straight. Earlier, it was mentioned that the company was solely founded by Mino (Raiola), but that’s not the whole truth. We founded it together. We drafted the company documents collaboratively. I find this narrative somewhat biased.

“As you may know, I’m deeply committed to feminism, and I believe it’s crucial to highlight this fact. We crafted the company’s articles of association hand in hand. Let me emphasize that you’ll never find anyone with more respect and admiration for him than me. However, it’s essential to recognize that it wasn’t solely his doing. When you embark on a journey together, it’s vital to acknowledge it.

“As a woman, I feel obligated to clarify this. It’s also significant because, in my view, football can serve as a platform for women’s empowerment. Women deserve their rightful place in this arena.”

An important clarification…

“Yes, I felt it was necessary.”

Returning to Haaland’s transfer to Manchester City, can you provide insight into the background or share any anecdotes?

“I’m afraid I can’t… And here’s where discretion comes into play. Remember why I intervened earlier? It was intentional. Haaland has been our client for many years. We facilitated his transfer to Borussia Dortmund. Following Mino’s absence, it was as though I suddenly had to take charge.

“However, that’s not entirely accurate. Mino and I were always a team. I’m not saying this to boast or seek recognition. It’s essential to acknowledge the role of women in such endeavors. That’s why I interrupted earlier. Now, regarding the transfer, I believe the story belongs to Erling Haaland and Manchester City. My role was advisory. Sharing details about the transfer may overstep boundaries.

“Nevertheless, I can offer my perspective and share how it impacted me. During this transfer, it was an exceptionally challenging time for me… Profoundly complicated because Mino wasn’t there. Every transfer I’ve undertaken was with Mino by my side.

“I’ll share something poignant. The Haaland transfer left a bittersweet taste for me. It was both gratifying and sorrowful simultaneously. Why? Because Mino wasn’t present. I wished he could have been there with us, especially during Haaland’s debut match. While it was a joyous occasion for many, personally, tears welled in my eyes as I thought of Mino.

“The same sentiment applies to Paul (Pogba)’s transfer to Juventus. When Paul signed with the Old Lady, I was overcome with emotion. The entire Juventus club, Paul, his family, myself… Yet, Mino was absent. Those were challenging times.”

Today, you’re regarded as the most influential agent in football. In 2022, you were named Best Player’s Agent by Tuttosport (attributed to the transfers of Erling, Paul, and Matthijs de Ligt). On October 21st, 2022, the Italian daily hailed you as ‘the undisputed queen of the transfer market.’ It must have been quite a journey…

“I don’t perceive myself in that light, but I appreciate the sentiment. Reflecting on my journey, it’s been quite the odyssey… Both lengthy and fleeting. Time seemed to pass in a blink (laughs)… How did it fly by so swiftly?

“Looking back, I realize the countless hours of dedication and sacrifice. We faced immense challenges initially. Italian football reigned supreme then. Mino and I frequented a bar near the AC Milan facilities. We knew key figures like Galliani would drop by for their espresso breaks. Italian coffees are brief – you’re in and out (laughs)!

“We’d sit there, waiting for our moment. If these individuals passed by, which lasted mere seconds, we had to seize the opportunity to be heard.

“That’s from a professional standpoint, but there’s also the aspect of being a woman. Today, women struggle to be heard in our industry. Yet, it was even more arduous back then. It’s been a lengthy journey to earn respect, to be taken seriously…

“For instance, when I voiced opinions, people would circumvent me and approach Mino for alternative approaches. It took time to establish my role and influence. It’s been a profound journey in that regard too, to earn respect, to be heard…

“For instance, when I spoke, individuals would bypass me and seek Mino’s approval for decisions. It took time to earn recognition and assert my role. It’s been a profound journey in that regard too, to earn respect, to be heard…

“I didn’t use the term ‘influential’ lightly. Other media outlets characterize you as ‘powerful’. However, during an interview with Téléfoot on February 19th, 2023, you refuted this label, stating that it didn’t accurately represent you. Instead, you emphasized the importance of players over agents, asserting, ‘There are no powerful agents, there are powerful players.’

“I intentionally made that statement because I believe the agent’s role should be redefined. By doing so, we elevate the profession. Agents should serve as support systems for their clients.

“As I mentioned earlier, we aren’t the central figures in this dynamic. Power resides with the players. They must recognize their agency and voice. When players exercise their influence, football becomes a catalyst for societal change.

“If harnessed effectively, football can drive significant transformations. I resist the notion of agents seeking to control everything, as it can lead to manipulation. Instead, our role is to empower players, fostering independence.

“I want players to choose to work with us out of necessity, not dependency. Genuine human connections between players and agents are paramount. I strive to avoid creating a sense of reliance, where players are uninformed about their finances or careers. That’s unacceptable to me.”

A typical week for Rafaela Pimenta? Well, there’s no such thing as “typical” in her line of work. She finds herself jet-setting from one destination to another, always on the move. Take, for instance, her recent schedule: arriving in Bucharest late at night only to catch another flight to Munich for the Euros opening. In this business, plans often morph into improvisations. Rafaela and her team have learned to adapt and embrace the unpredictability of their profession.

Flexibility is key, coupled with a light-hearted approach to navigate the unexpected twists and turns. Rafaela reminisces about countless trips where she’s had to purchase a sweater at the airport, expecting warmth but encountering chilliness. She’s become somewhat of a connoisseur of triangle sandwiches, a staple of airport dining. With a suitcase packed to the brim, she maintains a sense of balance amid the chaos.

As a woman in the football world, Rafaela understands the importance of staying true to oneself. She emphasizes the significance of authenticity over conforming to stereotypes. While professionalism dictates a certain attire, she believes respect stems from integrity, competence, and sincerity. She advocates for women to embrace their individuality and pursue their passions without compromise.

Reflecting on her journey with Paul Pogba, Rafaela cherishes the bond they share. For her, being likened to a second mother by Paul underscores the deep trust and affection between them. She’s been there through his triumphs and trials, offering unwavering support every step of the way.

In the realm of football, fame and fortune can be double-edged swords. Rafaela stresses the importance of staying grounded amidst the whirlwind of success. She advises aspiring footballers to pursue their dreams with passion and dedication, emphasizing the journey over the destination. While caution is warranted, she believes in fostering a balanced perspective, where ambition is tempered by humility.

Addressing the challenges faced by football agents, Rafaela underscores the danger of overreaching. Agents must recognize their limitations and collaborate with other professionals to provide comprehensive support for their clients. She emphasizes the importance of integrity, professionalism, and continuous learning in elevating the standards of the profession.

As for the rumors surrounding Erling Haaland’s value and future, Rafaela remains pragmatic. She sees him not just as a transfer commodity but as a long-term investment. His potential transcends the pitch, encompassing commercial opportunities, media exposure, and global appeal. While the idea of a “one-club man” is enticing, Rafaela acknowledges the fluidity of football dynamics and the evolving nature of player careers.

In closing, Rafaela’s journey serves as a testament to resilience, authenticity, and unwavering dedication. Her advice to aspiring football professionals echoes her own ethos: embrace the journey, stay true to yourself, and never stop learning.

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