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Jorge Mendes. Photo: Patricia de Melo Moreira/AFP via Getty Images

Soccer's transfer market was halved due to the pandemic, but Portuguese super agent Jorge Mendes still came out ahead.

By the numbers: Using a business model built upon relationships, Mendes brokered hundreds of millions of dollars in deals, netting himself roughly $30 million during a time when soccer's economy is reeling.

His story: Mendes grew up outside Lisbon in a working-class household and gave up a fledgling playing career in his early 20s to become an entrepreneur. By the age of 30 (1996), he'd bought a nightclub, which proved an excellent way to meet future clients and kickstarted his agent career.

  • By 2003, he'd become Portugal's premier agent, signing many of its best young players and managers. He represented Cristiano Ronaldo and José Mourinho, and helped broker their deals to Manchester United and Chelsea.
  • Now, Mendes' client list boasts the likes of James Rodríguez, Diego Costa, Ángel Di María and, of course, still Ronaldo. In 2019, he earned $118 million in commissions.

How it works: Compared to American sports, where agents like Scott Boras negotiate athletes' contracts with teams, European soccer agents like Mendes also navigate the complexities of the global transfer market.

  • A transfer is when one club pays another for the right to sign a player. Only then does the club work out a contract with the player. Mendes helps negotiate, and earns commission on, both deals.

Between the lines: Mendes' specialty is engineering moves that cause a chain reaction, with one client's transfer opening a spot on a club for a different client.

  • One example from this summer was when Manchester City bought Rúben Dias from Portuguese side Benfica for $80 million, then sold Nicolás Otamendi right back to Benfica for $16.5 million.
  • A more elegant example was when Wolverhampton sold Matt Doherty to Tottenham ($20 million) and Diogo Jota to Liverpool ($53 million), only to turn around and buy Nélson Semedo from Barcelona ($33 million), and both Fábio Silva ($44 million) and Vitinha ($23 million) from Porto.
  • All seven players — Dias, Otamendi, Doherty, Jota, Semedo, Silva and Vitinha — are Mendes clients, and he earned commission on every sale.

Go deeper

Kaine, Collins' censure resolution seeks to bar Trump from holding office again

Sen. Tim Kaine (center) and Sen. Susan Collins (right). Photo: Andrew Harnik/Pool via Getty Images

Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) are forging ahead with a draft proposal to censure former President Trump, and are considering introducing the resolution on the Senate floor next week.

Why it matters: Senators are looking for a way to condemn Trump on the record as it becomes increasingly unlikely Democrats will obtain the 17 Republican votes needed to gain a conviction, Axios Alayna Treene writes. "I think it’s important for the Senate's leadership to understand that there are alternatives," Kaine told CNN on Wednesday.

Stark reminder for America's corporate leaders

Rosalind "Roz" Brewer is about to become only the second Black woman to permanently lead a Fortune 500 company. She starts as Walgreens CEO on March 15.

Why it matters: It's a stark reminder of how far corporate America's top decision-makers have to go during an unprecedented push by politicians, employees and even a stock exchange to diversify their top ranks.

Ina Fried, author of Login
Updated 2 hours ago - Technology

Apple's quarterly sales top $100 billion for first time

Credit: Apple

Spurred by strong sales of the latest iPhones, Apple reported it took in a record $111 billion in revenue for the three months ended Dec. 31, as the company crushed expectations.

Why it matters: The move showed even a pandemic didn't dull demand for Apple's latest smartphones.