Agent discusses Erling Haaland’s release clause and potential Real Madrid move
Once super agent Mino Raiola passed away, Rafaela Pimenta took over the running of his empire, and she knows everything about the player contracts.
The woman that took over from the late Mino Raiola, turned her legal background into a viable route into the football industry. Rafaela Pimenta has faced challenges entering a predominantly male business but has used her positive attitude to fight down some of the stale opinions that she has come up against.
Now, after losing her partner of a quarter of a century, she holds all the keys to the players’ careers, and takes that fighting spirit into battle on a daily basis to get them the best she can. One of her current stars is Erling Haaland, who she says is ‘married’ to Manchester City but certainly is not ruling out a future elsewhere, suggesting what he offers a club is beyond what has gone before.
Haaland, release clause and Real Madrid
Were there people who wanted to take advantage of Mino's death?
Mino and I were constantly trying to understand how the people around us thought about this business. We knew what to expect from each other. And if he could talk to Mino today, he would tell him: “You were right again, for better or for worse.” For me, there were surprises, yes.
...what do you mean ’surprises’?
Because certain agents, if they can be called that, rang up some players the same day that Mino passed away. The same day! This for me exceeded a level that I did not expect. I also know what those players replied. And for Mino it would be a source of pride. On the other hand, the big agents, who are few, behaved well, supporting, calling, with their presence...
Did Mino leave Erling Haaland’s future closed before leaving?
No, no... Mino stopped working in December 2021, when he already knew what was going to happen.
Could Erling go to Real Madrid?
I can’t talk about this, I’m a lawyer [laughs].
What a shield you have with that role...
[Laughting]. I have an easy way out that Mino couldn’t use.
How is Haaland?
It is impossible to think of him and not smile. He is a hilarious boy. We both look at each other and start laughing, it’s inevitable. It’s one facet of him, the other is that he’s hyper-professional and serious about his work. I recently saw him at his house, I brought him a report from his social media... 84 pages of it. He did not want highlights, he wanted to read it in its entirety. After three hours without getting up, studying it, he suddenly said: “I’m starving, when will you let me eat something?” By God, Erling, you are at home, eat when you want! He is a very devoted boy.
Do players have more and more power?
Definitely. Mino hated social media. I do not. As long as you use them in a smart and limited way, they will help you a lot. Before players could not control the bad narrative for himself. Now it is different. The player has absolute control of the story around him. You can explain to the world who you really are. And this, to me, is power.
Do they also have power over the contracts they sign?
I am in favor of freedom. It is my battle. I always say that one of my priorities as an agent is to offer the player what I call 'the key to the door'. When the player goes to a club, I do everything to create the conditions so that the key to the door is in his hands. And if tomorrow you can't stand being there anymore because you don't like it, or they don't pay you well, or because your wife wants to live in Paris? Well, you're leaving, aren't you? I don't like when my player is not free to decide.
The worker must have the right to be transferred, to decide his own life. I invite the fans to think that the players are also people.
Does Haaland have the key to the door?
I will answer in generic terms. I have done all the contracts for this agency in the last 25 years. Everybody. There wasn’t a single time that a player said “I want to go” and couldn’t do it.
Does Haaland have a release clause to leave after 2024?
It is difficult to answer this. If I don’t tell him anything, he’s going to be misunderstood. If I tell him something, he will also be questioned. So I prefer not to say anything.
So, by leaving it up in the air, you’re hinting that there is such a clause, no?
I'm not saying anything.
And why keep that possibility of clause alive if there wasn’t one?
Because the mystery is always interesting [laughs]. It’s always sexier, isn’t it?
Did Guardiola lie then when he said there was no exit clause for Haaland?
I have not seen what Guardiola said, I cannot say.
He simply said there was no clause.
I don’t know…
Where is Haaland’s limit?
He’s in a place that is not yet known in football. He is the peak of the modern player. He will go further than those who came before him because of everything we now know about the human body, the training possibilities, nutrition... He will break all records.
Will he end up playing in Spain?
My hope is that he is always happy wherever he is. And today he is very happy at City. Tomorrow, we’ll have to think about it. It is not positive for a footballer to play one season thinking about the next. It’s like you start thinking about your next woman the day you get married [laughs]. Today, Haaland is ‘married’.
So, just ‘married’ it’s hard for Haaland to have the key to the door, right?
That’s true but as a lawyer I have to prepare for the possibility that if you need the key, you can have it.
It was smart to sign that clause for Haaland in Dortmund, but then no one knew the potential he had. Was it easier?
Everything is relative to the moment the player is in. Haaland was not so well known to the public then, but he was to the professionals. At that stage of his career, that clause that was imposed was fair. That’s why Dortmund accepted it!
How much is Haaland worth today?
We priced Pogba at 80 million and everyone said... it’s incredible! Today many are worth that. The top is at Neymar’s 222... The numbers change. For me, Haaland is worth 1,000 million. Maybe nobody is going to pay that, but he has the potential he has when he arrives at a club. With it come fans, goals, results, professionalism, digital content, notoriety, sponsors... If you put all this together, his value is an aggregate of many things.
But the price of a footballer is actually set by a club. I know that nobody is going to pay 700 million for a player, but I am very clear that the value that Erling adds when he arrives at a club is immense, at least 1,000 million.
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