Wolverhampton Wanderers are going to take the headlines if they manage to complete a club-record transfer for Porto midfielder Ruben Neves.
The Mirror report that the Midlands’ club have agreed on a fee of £18 million to sign the 20-year-old. If this does go through, it will represent a major coup for the Championship team as the player has been followed by top six Premier League clubs recently.
Porto’s financial problems are the reason behind a fee being agreed, but it is Jorge Mendes who has been the influential figure in taking this transfer to the point of completion.
Why is Ruben Neves moving to Wolves?
It would be near impossible for the majority, if not all, of the other teams in the Championship to do this deal. Firstly, there are few in the division that possess the finances that the Wolves ownership do. Another reason is that Ruben Neves will see his future at the highest level and a move to the English second tier is unlikely to appeal. This begs the question, why Wolves?
After taking over the club last summer, Fosun have completely changed the recruitment process and they are now targeting more foreign players, with several having links to Jorge Mendes. Paul Lambert left the club earlier this summer after only seven months, as he was unhappy with Mendes’ influence over transfers, as reported by Sky Sports.
The club have since denied that the Portuguese super-agent has too much influence over transfers, with the managing director, Laurie Dalrymple, stating that ‘he is a friend’ of the owners. He made it clear that Mendes is nothing more than an advisor to the club as an official position would break notable regulations.
Although not every signing has been related to Mendes, it is difficult not to be concerned at the relationship between the agent and Wolves. Last summer, Helder Costa, Silvio, Ivan Cavaleiro and Cameron Borthwick-Jackson were all signed with the help of the agent, to name only a few. Meanwhile, the appointment of Nuno Espirito Santo as manager and the signing of Roderick Miranda have shown the questionable relationship this summer.
It has often been said in recent years that agents have too much power in the game, but the link between Mendes and Wolves takes it to a whole new level. Helder Costa is too good for the Championship and Neves will be too if he moves to Molineux.
Although it is great that the Midlands club are attracting exciting talent to their club, the motivations of the players and Mendes, in particular, have to be questioned. It is unlikely the agent is bringing these players to the Championship because he has the best interests of Wolves in mind.
Should the Wolves fans be worried?
The majority of supporters on social media are embracing the new direction, despite Jorge Mendes being the influential figure behind it. They haven’t had the best few years and they now have owners that are prepared to spend big for the club. Without the link with Mendes, they wouldn’t have been able to attract this talent. At this stage, many see them as promotion contenders and it is difficult to argue with that, especially if they continue to spend money.
For outsiders looking in, the relationship with Mendes is cheapening Wolves and making the club little more than a tool that he is using to further his own interests. To begin with, he will be earning a significant amount of money from the transfers to take his players to the Midlands. He will then know that if they perform well, they will be sold on for more money, which will bring him an even larger pay day.
Mendes won’t care hugely if the team win promotion, as long as the players that he represents play well. The conflict of interest is clear to anybody that glances at the transfer business being conducted at Molineux and it will only be a matter of time before the authorities take a closer look.
Mendes has been in the game too long to break any rules, but that doesn’t mean that this relationship is right. There are positives and negatives. Wolves’ fans are going to focus on the positives and that is understandable. However, for everyone else, the rumoured deal for Neves comes with strings attached. We may never find out what they are, but it would be ignorant to suggest that they aren’t there.