Today I’m writing out of desperate concern for the future of our club. I think Arsenal are perched on a dangerous precipice. There is a Trojan horse at the gates of Highbury House, inside it lurks a super agent looking to control his biggest club yet via a managerial proxy. The idea of Jorge Mendes installing his boy Nuno as our manager has to be squashed with brute force because outside of it being a painfully bland appointment, it comes with dire ramifications for how we are operated and run.
We cannot let this happen. It would be a mistake with grave consequences for our future.
Arsenal is an institution. A club dedicated to closely guarded values. Yes, those values have been used to defend mediocrity over the past 10 years, but forget that for a minute, we stand for something bigger than trophies and that is something you should cherish.
Whether it’s passing on Frank and Ronald De Boer because of what it said about our respect for contracts 25 years ago. Replaying a cup match with Sheffield United because of a rules infraction. Or the general standard of how the club conducts itself in the local community, we are a special club. There is an Arsenal way and it makes us proud to be fans.
Those values appear to be under attack by some in the leadership team.
Look no further than the open arms welcome to ‘contacts’ recruitment and the introduction of super-agents for evidence. Much like Unai Emery’s early subs in September 2018, we initially welcomed the shift towards a more pragmatic era, but 18 months in, with next to nothing to show for it, it’s starting to look like we’re being taken for a ride by Raul’s process for getting things done.
The last 18 months will pale in comparison if he is successful in selling us the dud vision of Nuno and Mendes running things at Arsenal. To be clear, this is not just agent talk. His name will be on the managerial shortlist the club is pulling together. Nuno might look a reasonable suggestion on paper, the one-season wonder has had some spectacular results, but as with Emery, scratch beneath the surface, and it’s clear all is not as it seems with the charismatic Portuguese.
So what’s the problem? Outside having a bland-on-toast resume that’s been heavily fortified with great wins against top 6 sides, the main issue is his super-agent kingmaker, Jorge Mendes. Every article leaked into the Arsenal ether this week has gone to great lengths to tie Raul and his friendship with Mendes to this potential deal. This is not an accident, Raul is canvassing fan opinion to see how we perceive this sort of partnership: You should be disgusted.
Mendes has a history with Arsenal. He has fucked us in the past. The biggest, and perhaps most consequential shafting was the Ronaldo move way back when. Mendes used Arsenal to earn a better deal from United. This is Wenger on the deal.
“There is always something you could have done differently, but the problem of negotiations is to know when you give in and when you don’t give in,” he added.
“Once we were at 4.5 million pounds, we were still in negotiations… so we were very close. But Man United went to 12 million pounds, which we could not afford at the time.”
Mendes was also responsible for sending Ricardo Carvalho to Chelsea when we were close. There are also numerous other deals that didn’t go our way. He is no friend of the club and there was a reason Wenger wouldn’t deal with him (no doubt it’ll be in his book).
Now let’s move onto Nuno. He was Mendes’ first-ever client in football way back when he was a reserve keeper. They have a storied history together.
Fast forward to Spain in 2014.
When creditor, Bankia, were trying to find a buyer for the beleaguered Spanish club Valencia, Asian billionaire Peter Lim brokered a deal for 70% ownership, his one stipulation? Nuno had to be put in charge of the team. The deal went through, the popular Pizzi was sacked, Nuno was given the managerial role. Who brought Peter Lim to the table? Jorge Mendes.
Things went as you’d expect, this from Sport 360.
‘And since Lim’s arrival was confirmed, the club has signed an unsurprisingly high number of players who are managed by or have close links with Mendes, including Joao Cancelo, Zakaria Bakkali, Danilo and Enzo Perez, creating suspicions that they owe their chief loyalties to the agent rather than the club, and that they will only stay until Mendes decides it is time to sell them.’
Things went deeper though, Mendes made real jobs redundant because he was the king. His roster of players was all that mattered.
‘Conversely, fan favourite Nicolas Otamendi was sold to Manchester City, with the deal facilitated by his agent – Mendes, of course. For many fans the most troubling aspect of the summer, however, was neither the club’s failure to significantly invest in players nor the Mendes links with those who did arrive. It was a political battle between Nuno and three of the club’s key backroom staff: president Amadeo Salvo, sporting director Francisco Rufete and scout Roberto Fabian Ayala, who felt marginalised by the powerful influence of Mendes and threatened to leave unless the situation was rectified.’
‘Nuno stood his ground, Lim backed him, and Salvo, Rufete and Ayala all departed – with the startling fact that chief scout Ayala was not even replaced speaking volumes for the club’s current recruitment policy, which appears to be based upon little more than shuffling around Mendes’ personal portfolio.’
Nuno was eventually fired despite returning Valencia to the Champions League, fans were disgusted at the power grip he and Mendes had on the club. By December 2015, Peter Lim had spent €200 million on players (lots of dross), many of whom were represented by Mendes. What did Nuno have to say about it?
“A short time ago I heard that it was a privilege to be able to work with the best agent in the world,”
“I don’t know why this has changed. He remains the best agent in the world. He has helped Valencia a lot.
“The players he has brought, I believe they will soon be the best in the world. You must recognise his work. The squad planning was what we believed was the best. I believe we were right in all the individual judgements. There is a young squad with a lot of potential, the youngest in La Liga. This project will have success for sure.”
Completely oblivious to the real reasons the fans turned on him, Nuno echoed an excuse reminiscent of what Emery said in yesterday’s press conference.
“The players believe they can give more, they must. But they need to be supported, to feel people are with them, that the fans understand their youth, that they are with them in every game, so their quality can come through.
“I had become the problem, because the fans were not supporting us, but had turned on me. Now I ask them to support the players, because they have the quality they have shown before.”
Valencia finished 12th the next two seasons.
Fast forward to 2016. Xi Jinping, the top boy over at China mainland, is a huge Premier League fan. He encouraged investment from his big shot entrepreneurs in the beautiful game. Fosun, a Chinese investment conglomerate, went out and picked up Wolves for £46m. Who was there to broker the deal? Jorge Mendes. He is the go-to broker for Asian billionaires looking to move into European football.
To make matters more complicated, Fosun’s owner has another firm called Shanghai Foyo that reportedly owns a 20% stake in Jorge’s agency, Gestifute. This from Wolves in 2018.
“Fosun have a percentage stake in the Gestifute company headed up by Jorge Mendes,”
Leeds Chairman, Radrizzani, was livid at the complicated relationship Mendes had with the club, obviously fearing conflicts of interest could arise.
“Not legal and fair to let one team owned by a fund who has shares in the biggest players’ agency with evident benefits (top European clubs giving players with options to buy) … why the other 23 teams can’t have the same treatment?”
It’s too boring for me to get into the details of every single player Wolves have signed or moved out of the club, but do the research yourself. Read commentary on Neto and Jordao.
It was swift, it was sudden, and it came as if from nowhere. Wolves, on Friday, with minimal warning until less than 24 horus beforehand, announced the signing of Portuguese duo Pedro Neto and Bruno Jordao from Italian outfit Lazio – for a combined fee of £18million.
Significant money for two players who were largely unheard of outside of Portugal and Italy, and two players who between them had barely racked up 100 minutes of senior football. From the outside, it looks like a confusing piece of business, perhaps even a rip off if you will, and a sign of the market spiralling completely out of control.
Read the Italian press write about the money Lazio spent to NOT play the two mentioned above. Read this 2018 article that cites 13 players as linked to Mendes that moved to Wolves. Or this Sun puff pieces that basically reckons UEFA would be killjoys if they let rules get in the way of a very strange setup. Remember Bebe? Mendes.
So now for Arsenal.
We’ve already had our fingers burned by the Kia deal for Luiz, I was told all in, that deal will have set us back £40m. We should have been looking at players with a high ceiling on the up, not a busted flush from Chelsea. Everyone is fully aware that we went above and beyond on Pepe with fees so steep, Napoli pulled out.
We also signed Unai Emery out of the blue and did the deal in 8 days. Without going over all the things that were clearly wrong with that hire, one huge miss stood out… Emery couldn’t speak English to Sven or Ivan G who interviewed him, yet we still signed him. How was that bulldozed through? No one at Arsenal asked if being able to speak the language was an issue? Very odd.
Anyway, it happened, we’re 18 months on, and who is being linked? Emery with a beard. A man with a very uninspiring resume, with very, very, very deep ties to a super agent that comes as part of his package whether you like it or not.
Signing Nuno is not about his talent as a manager, it’s about what it’ll cost the club in terms of a future. His introduction will make Edu an irrelevance, same for the scouts and the analysts (just like at Valencia)… because Jorge Mendes will become our Technical Director, Chief Scout, and Club Strategist. Why would Raul invite such a force into the club?
This move will create a lack of trust in the system. If you’re upset about the lack of transparency at Arsenal since Stan took us private, my word, you’re in for a treat if Raul gets his way with this manager. On the technical side, this move will rupture the already diminished culture at the club because our approach will shift from data and intelligence, to whatever works best for the fees.
To use Josh Kroenke’s words, it would not leave the fans proud. The Nuno suggestion is an assault on everything we believe about the club we love. It should not and cannot happen. If it does, you’ll know what Raul is all about, and you’ll know where it’s going to end… a financial/football disaster we’ll be lumped with for the next decade.
This sort of carry-on does make me wonder if Sir Chips’ fight to have Arsenal people on the board is about more than hurt feelings. Perhaps Raul’s ideas are alarming the sleepy old men? The same folk that were content with average football for 10 years might not be happy to see the club taking an unsavory path toward opaqueness. One can only hope.
I think it’s very telling that top journalists are being briefed very specifically that Raul is the one responsible for Unai’s continued tenure, as well as being the one that went off-shortlist to make the horrendous recommendation to hire him in the first place, that tells you he has enemies internally because those stories are an attack on his leadership, judgment, and credibility.
My hope is that the good people at the club are aware of the motives behind this managerial suggestion. Josh Kroenke needs to get off his Instagram and start speaking to the folk at the training ground with real football knowledge before he’s hoodwinked into another Raul shambles. Nuno is a Trojan horse that must be burned to the ground before people start entertaining the idea that the horse would look ace on The Emirates concourse. Arsenal are not Valencia. We are not Wolves. If Manchester City are valued at nearly £5b, then so are Arsenal. Nuno isn’t Arsenal levels to start with, factor in his baggage, and I wouldn’t even give him the courtesy of an interview. The absolute last thing we need to be doing is giving Jorge Mendes a parking spot next to the power at Arsenal FC. We are better than that.
My hope for this article? Firstly, you see the danger here. Secondly, that fans steer clear of falling in love with the Nuno idea, see it for what it is, bitch about it online, and share this story with anyone that thinks otherwise. This move is an attack on your club, it would fail miserably, and it must be dismissed with the same vigor we used to swat away the Jose stories.
See you in the comments, but not before you’ve gone onto Twitter to complain about this Nuno nonsense. #NuNoFuckingWAY