BEFORE super agent Mino Raiola passed away last month, he had one request for his long time ally.
The Italian, who boasted football stars including Erling Haaland, Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic as clients, asked Brazilian lawyer Rafaela Pimenta to take over the reins of his business.
It is she who is tasked with advising France World Cup winner Pogba of his next move – with a move away from Man Utd said to be imminent.
Whether he stays at Old Trafford or re-signs for Juventus, who are believed to have offered the playmaker a three year deal worth £6.3million-per-year deal, Pimenta will be at the centre of all negotiations.
In truth, she could become the most powerful woman in football.
For 18 years, Pimenta was Raiola's right-hand woman – working by his side.
She was entrusted as a vital cog in his affairs, as well as a brain to lean on for advice.
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Their paths first crossed in around 1998, when she helped Brazilian legends Rivaldo and Cesar Sampaio set up a small Sao Paulo club, Guaratinguetà, and they met at the project's launch event.
At the time, she was also a university professor of international law when she was lured into the world of football.
While before that, Pimenta worked for an antitrust team set up by Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
But the chance meeting between Pimenta and Raiola was the beginning of a fruitful relationship – and they would go on to work for 18 years together, before his untimely death at the age of 54.
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To be closer to Raiola, she moved to Monte Carlo and operated from his office there.
Only a handful of people work at the One headquarters in Monaco.
One of those is Mino's cousin Vincenzo Raiola, who mainly takes care of the Italian players.
But it's Pimenta who is the power player.
A share of the business
Raiola didn't trust many people. But he had full faith in Pimenta.
Intriguingly, she is the only person who he offered shares to in the One business.
And it wasn't just Raiola who benefitted from her expertise – with their client list profiting too.
In-demand Pogba learned a thing or two from Pimenta, who taught the Red Devils star a few words in Portuguese.
She was also a regular in the stands with Raiola at PSG – making connections at the Parc des Princes.
So, she was primed to take over when the time came. And this will be the busiest of summers.
Mino Raiola’s impressive client list
Mino Raiola has handed the reigns to Rafaela Pimenta for his One agency.
They boast an incredible client list of the world's top footballers. Here's just some of their main players.
1. Erling Haaland – Man City
2. Matthijs de Ligt – Juventus
3. Gianluigi Donnarumma – Paris Saint-Germain
4. Paul Pogba – Manchester United
5. Marco Verratti – Paris Saint-Germain
6. Stefan de Vrij – Inter Milan
7. Zlatan Ibrahimovic – AC Milan
8. Marcus Thuram – Borussia Monchengladbach
9. Moise Kean – Everton
10. Ryan Gravenberch – Ajax
11. Donyell Malen – Borussia Dortmund
12. Alessio Romagnoli – AC Milan
At the turn of the year, Raiola was suffering with his health and had to ease his workload.
Then, for two weeks, he was hospitalised and lay in critical condition in Milan's San Raffaele Hospital bed until he died.
Italian reports suggested he suffered with a lung disease, but official cause of death wasn't disclosed.
“In infinite sorrow, we share the passing of the most caring and amazing Football Agent that ever was,” his family wrote in a statement released on Raiola’s official Twitter account.
“Mino fought until the end with the same strength he put on negotiation tables to defend our players. As usual, Mino made us proud and never realised it.
“Mino touched so many lives through his work and wrote a new chapter in the history of modern football. His presence will forever be missed.
"Mino’s mission of making football a better place for players will continue with the same passion.
“We thank everybody for the huge amount of support received during these difficult times and ask for respect for the privacy of family and friends in this moment of grief. The Raiola Family.”
Raiola's death came at a time when negotiations for the jewel of his roster were being finalised.
Erling Haaland's blockbuster transfer to Man City was finalised two weeks later.
A total deal, including agents' fees and the signing-on fee was reportedly worth £85.5million.
It's not known how much Raiola contributed to the deal, but you can bet Pimenta was heavily involved.
Next, she will turn her attentions to Pogba – who faces an anxious month or so with his contract soon expiring at Old Trafford.
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PSG and Real Madrid are monitoring the situation carefully, while Juventus are said to have already tabled their offer.
Whatever happens, you can bet Pimenta will get the best for her client. And he might just thank her in Portuguese.
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