In one recent example — the move of Doherty, a 28-year-old Irish defender, from Wolverhampton to Tottenham — the guiding hand of Mendes touched every facet of the deal.
Wolves, you see, is owned by Fosun International, a Chinese conglomerate that also holds a minority stake in Gestifute. And Doherty, who turned to Mendes earlier this year to guide his career, left a club managed by Mendes’s first professional client, Nuno Espirito Santo, to join a team coached by one of Mendes’s most high-profile clients, José Mourinho.
Wolves’s relationship with Mendes has been the subject of scrutiny in English soccer, with rival clubs complaining about his close ties to Fosun, to Espirito Santo and to a handful of the players on the team’s roster. An investigation by the Football League, which is responsible for the three professional tiers of English soccer below the Premier League, found that there were no breaches in how Wolves — bolstered by a clutch of Mendes-linked players from Portugal — secured promotion to England’s top flight in 2018.
But Mendes’s dealings with the club, and others, run deep. Wolves — and Mendes — were also at the center of two curious trades this summer involving F.C. Porto, a Portuguese champion with a two-decade link to the agent.
On the cusp of a financial meltdown, and with large debts coming due, Porto turned to Mendes to find buyers for some of its up-and-coming stars. In a feat of alchemy that Mendes appears to have honed to perfection, Mendes convinced Fosun, his Chinese partners at Wolves, to pay what could be as much as $70 million for two highly rated though largely untested youngsters: Vitor Ferreira, a 20-year-old midfielder known as Vitinha, and Fábio Silva, an 18-year-old forward.
A quarter of the 40 million euro fee for Silva ended up in agents commissions, Porto announced, with most of it going to Mendes.