Posts tagged ‘Bebe’

May 12, 2012

Jorge Mendes and the £7.4m Man Utd Flop

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Jorge Mendes is a failed professional footballer who then opened up a number of bars and night clubs, even running a video rental store, before meeting Portuguese goalkeeper Nuno in a bar and subsequently brokering his move from Portuguese club Vitoria Guimaraes to Deportivo La Coruna in Spain in 1996.

This represented the first of many deals for Mendes as a football agent, who has since gone on to become a super agent in the mould of Pini Zahavi. Zahavi’s success in England built on his knowledge of foreign leagues and players in the 90’s when in Zahavi’s words ‘there were managers who did not know anything about European players. You couldn’t even find the results of European leagues in the papers. It was a desert island and they couldn’t care less about the world game. I was able to help change attitudes’. Yet whilst knowledge of foreign football is ever increasing in the UK, during Mendes own rise his connections in Portugal have meant that he has become a go-to for Portuguese talent. Personnel he has represented has included Jose Mourinho, Nani, Quaresma, Queiroz, Pepe, Simao, Anderson, Carvalho, Tiago, Maniche, Scolari, Paulo Ferreira and Cristiano Ronaldo, for which he received £4 million pounds of the £80 million Real Madrid paid Manchester United.

The standout fact from this group of players is that they frequently coexist. Scolari and Mourinho have had these players at Chelsea, Mourinho has had some of these at Madrid and, when assistant at Man Utd, Queiroz worked with a  number of these. Which begs the question, is there a third party influence that dictates signings and transfers, external to the club and the manager? How is it that these players coexist so often, is it really coincidental? Does Mendes’ power extend beyond simply representing a player?

Yet Mendes has overseen transfers that are generally regarded as a bust too. Hugo Viana was signed by Newcastle United in 2002 for £12 million but scored only four times in two years before moving to Valencia for a reported £1.5 million, representing a good move for Hugo Viana but a huge loss for Newcastle. However, the most recent bust has come in the form of Portuguese Under 21 international, homeless throughout childhood, Bebe.

Bebe’s transfer has immensely curious circumstances. A Portuguese Division three player in the 2009/2010 season in summer 2010 he moved to first division Vitoria Guimaeres in a surprise transfer. However things became even more intriguing when Manchester United snapped the player up for £7.4 million just five weeks later. What began as a fairy tale has since been acknowledged as a flop. A big one at that. The technically and tactically deficient forward looked so much like a fish out of water in his handful of appearances that he was likened to a fan turning out for their team in a Premier League match.

So what led Man Utd and Ferguson to invest in this completely unproven player? Ferguson admitted to having never seen him play when he was signed, so it couldn’t have been his eye for a talent. Ferguson did say however that he was pushed into sealing a deal for the player, when rivals Real Madrid were sniffing, with their paper La Marca running a story of Madrid interest, United were eager to see them off and get Bebe on board. Ferguson added that he received strong recommendation from his former assistant Carlos Queiroz. The Madrid offer never materialised, and it is interesting that Queiroz found time to be study third division Portuguese football too. Curiously, Mendes has close ties with all the figures that conspired to make this deal happen, and to make Ferguson so insistent on signing the player, which saw United part with £7.4 million for a homeless forward whose only season of competitive football was in the semi professional Portuguese division three. Interesting…

If £7m on the tactically poor and defensively inept Charlie Adam represents bad value for money, then the signing of Bebe represents more of a payday for Mendes than a good prospect snatched from Madrid for Fergie. But perhaps you can afford to lose the odd battle if you were a da Silva twin’s poor defensive performance against Everton from winning the premier league with a midfield of out of retirement Paul Scholes, and England reserve player Michael Carrick. Outmaneuvering Ferguson is a rare feat, yet these curious circumstances suggest someone may have spectacularly done that. And probably got a sizeable cut too…

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