How Jorge Mendes Single-Handedly Got Wolves Promoted

This is the story of how a soccer super-agent got a team in the Midlands back to the big time.

Wolverhampton Wanderers were in League One almost four years ago. Fast forward to today, and they are on the verge of securing a return to the Premier League. How did a club, which was relegated from the Premier League (2011-12 season) and the Championship (2012-13 season) in consecutive years, manage to steady the ship and get itself back on track?

Two words: Jorge. Mendes. Yes, the Jorge Mendes, who is the agent of Cristiano Ronaldo and Jose Mourinho. It is quite a murky situation in terms of what Mendes’ role at Wolves actually is. 

Earlier this year, a number of clubs kicked up complaints about the influence that Mendes had on the owners of Wolves and their transfer dealings. I mean, the guy managed to bring in Ruben Neves, one of the brightest young Portuguese prospects, to Wolverhampton from FC Porto. Not many people in their right mind would give up playing in the UEFA Champions League most seasons for an away day at Burton Albion, but here we are. 

Even the Wolves manager, Nuno Espirito Santo, is a client of Mendes and he was also a former manager of FC Porto and Valencia, where he had winning percentages of over 50 at both clubs. It’s crazy to think how one guy can seemingly all convince these names to come to Wolverhampton of all places. 

It’s been a strange contrast for Wolves from last season to this season. The club started out with Walter Zenga at the helm, but he was sacked a few months into the season before a member of the English football coaching merry-go-round, Paul Lambert, got the gig. He was subsequently sacked at the end of the season after guiding the club to a 15th-place finish. 

This season, they’ve been in first place ever since Round 15, and have not looked back since. Diogo Jota has been a revelation of a signing, scoring 15 goals, Ruben Neves has been scoring absolute screamers week-in, week-out and Barry Douglas has demonstrated the wizardry of his left foot by laying on 14 assists for his teammates. 

Could Wolves have been as successful this season without the influence and guidance of Jorge Mendes? I think not. Mendes could now have paved the way for the future of soccer too, where an agent’s clients take over the club. It may not be a morally correct way or something that appeals to the traditional soccer fans out there, but Wolves are going to be in the Premier League next season whether you like it or not. 

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