The Jorge Mendes carousel: a look at the past and predicting what comes next
The Jorge Mendes carousel is an emerged term referring to the perceived close association and interchangeable transfer activity between a set of clubs, more often than not involving Jorge Mendes clients.
It should be noted for the point of clarity that it is not solely Mendes clients who hop onto the so-called Jorge Mendes 'carousel', but it also involves non-Gestifute Portuguese players or Portuguese-based players who move between members of this esteemed group of clubs, with these moves still believed to be facilitated, at least in part, by the renowned super agent.
These clubs include some European giants, the likes of the Big Three in Portugal (mainly Benfica but also to some extent both Porto and Sporting) as well as Atletico Madrid, Valencia, Wolves, Lille, Monaco, Braga, Rio Ave and Lazio perceived to be among the expanding list of clubs Jorge Mendes is considered to be more actively involved with.
It has become commonplace now to see transfer activity between these clubs, as the record books show.
To illustrate this, let us focus solely on players who have played for at least three of these clubs in recent times. We could include players that have also only played for two of the team’s on the Mendes carousel as well, although this would prove overbearing due to its extensiveness. As such, trust us when we say transactions between these clubs is highly commonplace, but for the purpose of this article, we'll focus only on footballers who have represented at least three ‘Mendes clubs’.
There is perhaps no better place to start than Falcao, arguably the most high-profile individual to have partaken in the ride that is the Jorge Mendes carousel. As a Gestifute client, he is one of the many world-renowned stars Jorge Mendes has on his books, and the super agent was undoubtedly crucial in shaping Radamel Falcao’s career, first overseeing his 40 million euro move from Porto to Atletico Madrid, followed by his 43 million euro move from Atletico Madrid to Monaco. Three permanent clubs in Europe, all three part of Jorge Mendes’ carousel. No coincidence there.
Equally, Diogo Jota has also represented three clubs in this Mendes merry-go-round. Having started out at Pacos de Ferreira, he moved to Atletico Madrid, where he failed to make an appearance, immediately being loaned out to FC Porto. After impressing, he was loaned out again, this time to Wolverhampton Wanderers, a move that was eventually made permanent in the summer of 2018, marking a move to his third ‘Mendes club’.
Perhaps the most pertinent example for the existence of this Jorge Mendes carousel is Ivan Cavaleiro. Struggling for game time at Benfica, he was loaned out to Deportivo la Coruña, another one of the sides on the Jorge Mendes' carousel, to get some first team action. He impressed and thus moved on to his third Mendes-associated club, Monaco. After just a single season in France, he was then shipped off to Mendes' latest project - Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Four clubs in just four years for young Ivan Cavaleiro, all four of them part of the Jorge Mendes carousel.
But perhaps the staggering thing is that he is not the only player to have represented four of the clubs in Mendes’ ring of associated club; indeed, Pizzi has also already plied his trade at four of these outfits - first Braga, albeit a club where he spent most of his four-year stint out on loan, then Atletico Madrid, where he again struggled for significant game time, followed by a loan spell at Deportivo La Coruna and ultimately a move to Benfica in 2013, who he still represents to this day. Fair to say Pizzi is a perfect illustration of a Jorge Mendes/Gestifute client and how he often likes to help distribute his player to very specific clubs in his catalogue.
Roderick Miranda is yet another example, who has also represented four Mendes-associated clubs - first Benfica, then Deportivo La Coruna, then Rio Ave, and then Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Even more startlingly though, the cases of Ivan Cavaleiro, Pizzi and Roderick Miranda aren’t the ones that best represent the carousel that is Jorge Mendes clubs. Indeed, Gestifute client Filipe Augusto has transferred between the established sides in the Jorge Mendes carousel on no fewer than five occasions.
Having started out at Brazilian outfit Bahia, Augusto eventually moved to Rio Ave (1) in 2012 for a fee in the region of £2million. After impressing, he was eventually loaned out to Valencia (2), where he played a total of 8 games. After that spell in Spain, he then went out on loan to Braga (3), before earning a permanent move to Benfica (4). With chances few and far between at the Lisbon club, he returned to Rio Ave (5) on a permanent deal, making that five exchanges already between Mendes-associated clubs for Filipe Augusto, who is still only 25 years old.
But even Filipe Augusto isn’t the player that has moved around the carousel on the most occasions. That prestigious honour goes to a Portuguese international right back called Silvio, who has represented SIX of the members of Mendes’ catalogue of clubs, and has transferred between them on seven occasions.
To sum up the 31-year old’s career path, it all began in 2008, when he joined Rio Ave (1) from Portuguese minnow Odivelas. After two impressive seasons there, Silvio went to Braga (2), swiftly moving on to Atletico Madrid (3) as a consequence of another top season in Portugal. He remained on the books of Atletico Madrid for 5 years, but amassed a total of just 21 appearances for the club and was loaned out to two clubs. First was Deportivo La Coruna (4) in 2012-13, before a return to Portugal and a lengthy loan spell at Portuguese giants SL Benfica (5). After three seasons on the fringes of the Lisbon club, Silvio was then swept up by then-Championship side Wolverhampton Wanderers (6). He didn’t make much, if any, impact at the English outfit, but that marked his sixth Mendes club, making Silvio the most well-represented player on the carousel. And that wasn’t the end of it; there was still one last hurrah for the 8-time international, returning to Braga to represent the B team briefly to build up fitness. He now plays for Setubal in the Portuguese Primeira Liga.
There are several other more modest examples to turn to as well. Helder Costa, for, example, another Portuguese Gestifute player, followed a similar route to Ivan Caveleiro, moving from Benfica to Monaco and then on to Wolves, showing how patterns have emerged of this type of transfer activity. It means that predicting the future is, in actual fact, not a wholly impossible task.
Ruben Vinagre is another example; while not a Jorge Mendes client, the Wolves wing-back has, despite only being 19, already taken a route through Jorge Mendes-associated club, going from Sporting to Monaco and then eventually ending up at Wolves. Meanwhile Pele, the Portuguese-born Guinea-Bissau international, is another to have represented three of ‘Mendes’ sides’, first Benfica, then Rio Ave, and then, more recently, Monaco. You could even make a case that he has represented four Mendes clubs, his recent loan move to Nottingham Forest another possible Mendes manoeuvre.
And the list goes on. Willy Boly, from Braga to Porto and Porto to Wolves; Moutinho from Porto to Monaco and Monaco to Wolves; Jan Oblak from Benfica to Rio Ave (on loan) and Benfica to Atletico Madrid; the now retired Guilherme Siqueira from Benfica to Atletico Madrid and Atletico Madrid to Valencia; Adrian Lopez from Deportivo La Coruna to Atletico Madrid and Atletico Madrid to Porto; the examples are extensive.
The most recent player to complete his trilogy of Mendes clubs though is none other than Raul Jimenez, who completed his 38 million euro move to Wolves this week, having previously moved from Atletico Madrid to Benfica before joining the English outfit initially on loan.
Can we predict the future?
One could argue that we can make inferences on potential future transfers based on what we know of the business of the past. Can we look at these patterns and come to a conclusion as to who may be on the move in the future?
Obviously, knowing these patterns won’t enable us to make conclusive statements about who may go where, but it does give us a little insight into the world that is Jorge Mendes, and does lend itself to let us make some wild - sometimes extravagant - predictions.
For example, take Pizzi. The central midfielder/winger has already represented Braga, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo La Coruna and Benfica. He’s now 31, and could easily be looking for one last move in his career before he eventually hangs up his boots.
He’s been phenomenal for Benfica in the last few seasons, and he could offer many clubs a lot of talent with his work rate and passing ability. If you were forced to make a prediction about a future transfer, you could easily envisage Pizzi making a move, perhaps to Wolverhampton Wanderers. Of course there’s no current evidence to suggest Pizzi wants to leave, Benfica want to sell, or Wolves want to sign him, although I don’t think it would shock anyone if that was one of the transfers of the next window.
With Andre Silva also currently struggling and unlikely to stay at either of AC Milan or Sevilla next season, he’s certainly a striker Jorge Mendes may need to help revitalise his career. A move for him to the likes of Lille or Monaco is far from impossible, while Valencia is another potential destination. Wolves wouldn’t be a shock either, although after their big-money signing Raul Jimenez joined from Benfica, it seems highly unlikely that they would sign another high-profile striker this summer.
Fabio Coentrao is another Gestifute player, and is currently plying his trade for Rio Ave. It was a signing that came very late in the transfer window, and seemed like a rushed move to get the left back/winger some more game time, with Sporting not swooping in for the player they had loaned in the season before and his options seemingly narrow. There’s every chance that Jorge Mendes is pushing for a more high-profile move for the former Portugal international, and could look to tout his player to one of the other clubs he has a close affiliation with, the likes of Valencia, Deportivo La Coruna and Coentrao’s former club Monaco seemingly plausible options. What happens to him this summer is certainly one to watch out for.
There are other players that could be on the move this summer, the likes of Renato Sanches and Andre Gomes, for example, although their names and their known talent and the fact that they have already moved out of the Jorge Mendes carousel means that they are less likely to re-enter. Though it’s not unheard of, of course. Goncalo Guedes, for example, moved to PSG from Benfica, before then joining Valencia. So they could be other names that could be on their way to one of Mendes’ closely-associated clubs.
And it’s not just players that Jorge Mendes has on his books, but managers too. Where could the likes of Abel Ferreira, Paulo Fonseca, Rui Faria and Bruno Lage be next season? Could they be on their way to one of Mendes’ clubs, or get an even higher profile move? It’s certainly a very interesting situation, and it will surely prove to be yet another very busy summer for the superagent that is Jorge Mendes.