One thing Joan Laporta can’t be criticised for is his ability to cultivate relationships with football people. The newly-elected Barcelona president has ties with some of the most powerful movers and shakers in the game according to Marca, including a strong network of super agents.
Laporta didn’t discard relationships he forged during his first term as president, between 2003 and 2010. He instead maintained them, and can now count Pini Zahavi, Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes as strong allies in his quest to rebuild Barcelona.
He’s known Zahavi since 2003, when he worked with him to sign Ronaldinho from Paris Saint-Germain. Zahavi also worked on the deal that sent Neymar in the other direction, and invited Laporta to the wedding of his daughter. They met just two weeks ago in Barcelona, alongside Fali Ramadani, Miralem Pjanic’s agent. The idea is that Zahavi could be key in Laporta’s ambition to sign David Alaba, as he’s his agent.
Mendes is another good friend of Laporta’s. Again, their relationship dates back to his first days at Barcelona, when they began to collaborate. There weren’t many concrete signings that emerged from the relationship, but they worked together on many issues, especially when Txiki Begiristain became involved, and their connection is still a strong one. This will be important in the negotiations for Ansu Fati’s contract renewal, as well as a possible move for the free-scoring Andre Silva.
Raiola is another close associate of Laporta’s. Zlatan Ibrahimovic was the most high-profile signing they collaborated on, and they also linked up in the unfulfilled promise to bring Paul Pogba to Barcelona when Laporta ran for president back in 2015. Erling Haaland, currently one of the hottest prospects in the game, is another key asset in Raiola’s stable.