Business analysts Forbes have published their most recent findings on the
'World's Richest Football Agents' with those responsible for brokering deals for the biggest names unsurprisingly near the top of the list.
Premier League clubs spent over £1billion on transfers in 2015, shattering the equivalent figures recorded by the other major European leagues.
With the role of the agent becoming more and more prominent, here we look at the most powerful middle men currently doing business in the game.
7/ Thomas Kroth
Thomas Kroth was born 26 August 1959 in Erlenbach am Main, Germany. Kroth is a former Bundesliga professional football player.
Kroth won the DFB-Pokal (German Cup) with three different teams. In 1983 with FC Köln, in 1987 with Hamburger SV and in 1989 with Borussia Dortmund. In 1985, he earned one cap for Germany against Hungary.
Kroth retired from his pro soccer career in 1991 to enter into the player representation business. These days, his agency Pro Profil, represents over 110 football/soccer players throughout Europe and the world including: Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, former Manchester United playmaker Shinji Kagawa, Dynamo Kyiv defender Aleksander Dragovic, Shinji Okazaki of Leicester City, Bayern Munich midfielder Sebastian Rode and Watford's José Holebas.
Contracts worth: £146m
Commissions (career payments for completed deals): £14.7m
Thomas Kroth is ranked #25 richest sports agent in the world by Forbes.
6/ Fernando Felicevich
Fernando Felicevich was born 22 April 1970 in Argentina.
Until the age of 33, Fernando Felicevich never had contact with professional football.
But Fernando Felicevich is now the king of South American soccer, representing the likes of Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal, Aresenal's Alexis Sanchez (below) and Inter Milan midfielder Gary Medel, Barcelona goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, Felipe Guitiérrez who plays for FC Twente in the Eredivisie, and Charles Aránguiz who plays in Qatar.
Felicevich's has a sterling reputation in the global football business for his pragmatic approach to negotiation, as well as parental relationship with many of his players.
In Chile he works with a counselor who can provide services to his players. Fernando always cares about his players’ image and the information that appears about them. You can see that just taking a look at his Twitter account: he uses it to inform about transfers, to correct incorrect news and to answer when someone has any doubts about one of the footballers he represents.
Felicevich has become one of the game's most coveted agents, having enjoyed an extremely lucrative 12 months following the Brazil World Cup in 2014, where they reached the round of 16 before being eliminated by the host nation.
Chile's success at the tournament laid the platform for things to come and they went on to win the Copa América the following year, with four of manager Jorge Sampaoli's side now having signed big-money deals across Europe - all coming from Felicevich's stable.
Contracts worth: £148m
Commissions (career payments for completed deals): £15m
Fernando Felicevich is ranked #23 richest sports agent in the world by Forbes.
5/ Mino Raiola
Mino Raiola was born 4 November 1967 in Nocera Inferiore in the Salerno province of southern Italy.
A one man show, Mino Raiola is one of the most powerful agents in the soccer industry. Raiola, of Maguire Tax & Legal in the Netherlands, represents a small (relative to multi-agent agencies) but star studded collection of players (approx. 35 in total).
Sir Alex Ferguson may have blamed Raiola for the departure of Paul Pogba from Manchester United on the cheap, but the player's agent is synonymous with the trade, becoming a revered figure among his peers in recent years.
Raiola powerful roster of soccer’s top talent includes: Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimović, Juventus star Paul Pogba, Italian striker Mario Balotelli, Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, Paris Saint-Germain midfielder Blaise Matuidi, Borussia Dortmund's Henrikh Mkhitaryan and AC Milan's Ignazio Abate.
Contracts worth: £186m
Commissions (career payments for completed deals): £18.7m
Mino Raiola is ranked #22 richest sports agent in the world by Forbes.
4/ José Otin (José Antonio Martín Otin)
Founder and president of Bahia International, Otin transitioned form a career in radio to the sports agent business by recruiting some of the Iberian Peninsula's best players. Dealing only in players from his homeland of Spain, Otin represents the likes of Chelsea striker Pedro, Bayern Munich midfielder Javi Martinez, Spanish international Fernando Torres, Manchester City's Jesus Navas, Sevilla FC winger Víctor Pérez, Athletic Bilbao midfielder Raúl García, Valencia CF's Dani Parejo, Real Sociedad's Asier Illarramendi, Málaga CF midfielder Ignacio Camacho and Arsenal's Nacho Monreal
Otin has cast his net across Europe, reaping the rewards of negotiating deals for some of the biggest stars across the top five leagues from one country to another. The Bahia Internacional agent deals exclusively with Spanish footballers, but that hasn't stopped the man who once worked in radio from sending his clients abroad.
Contracts worth: £191m
Commissions: (career payments for completed deals): £19.2m
Jose Otin is ranked #15 richest sports agent in the world by Forbes.
3/ Volker Struth
The SportsTotal agent is the most powerful middle man in German football, with some of the biggest names currently plying their trade in the Bundesliga (considered by many to be the best football league in the world) being on his books.
Mario Gotze is one such illustrious name, but Struth made headlines in the summer when he claimed the current Bayern Munich boss Pep Guardiola had 'destroyed' his player through a lack of first-team opportunities.
Other notable clients include: Borussia Dortmund's Marco Reus, Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos, Schalke captain Benedikt Howedes, Bayer Leverkusen and Turkish international Ömer Toprak, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Gonzalo Castro, Schalke's German international winger Sidney Sam and Swiss international Josip Drmic.
Contracts worth: £278m
Commissions (career payments for completed deals): £27.8m
Volker Struth is ranked #5 richest sports agent in the world by Forbes.
2/ Jonathan Barnett
Jonathan Barnett was born 28 January 1950. Barnett is one of the most important figures in football — and yet you may never have heard of him. Barnett grew up on Baker Street in the West End of London, entering the workplace as an employee of Curzon House Group, a casino business owned by his family. Barnett owns Stellar Group, an agency he founded with David Manasseh in 1994.
While Barnett's first client was legendary Cricket player Brian Lara, he has made a name for himself since then representing some of the world's best soccer players. Representing well over 100 players throughout dozens of global leagues, Barnett manages the largest roster of clients of any single agent in the Forbes Top 50. Barnett is also often given credit for introducing Lennox Lewis into professional boxing.
Barnett masterminded Gareth Bale's £86million move from Tottenham to Real Madrid in 2013, and the highest-placed Brit on the list also played a crucial role in negotiating Luke Shaw's £27m move from Southampton to Manchester United the following summer.
His clients include: England and Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart, Lyon and Brazilian international Rafael da Silva, Poland's international goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, Swansea's Gylfi Sigurdsson, Newcastle's recent signing Jonjo Shelvey, Everton defender Phil Jagielka, Liverpool's Adam Lallana and former Arsenal, Chelsea and AS Roma defender Ashley Cole.
Contracts worth: £287m
Commissions (career payments for completed deals): £28.8m
Jonathan Barnett is ranked #4 richest sports agent in the world by Forbes.
1/ Jorge Mendes
Jorge Paulo Agostinho Mendes was born 7 January 1966 in Lisbon, Portugal.
Jorge Mendes is often referred to as a "super-agent," having negotiated more than £625m in player contracts, including a £135m deal for client Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo returned the favour when his agent recently got married, buying him a Greek island as a wedding present. He has been recognized as 'FIFA's Agent of the Year' on three occasions by his peers.
Mendes began life as a footballer but was forced to abandon his hopes of a professional career after being rejected by a number of Portuguese clubs when he was in his early 20's. Instead, he ran a video rental store, worked as a DJ and opened a bar and nightclub in Caminha, north-west Portugal.
Mendes, began his football agent career focusing primarily on Portuguese players. He is registered with the Portuguese Football Federation and heads the GestiFute company, which was founded in 1996 and is based in Porto.
Mendes's first deal as a football agent came in 1996 when he brokered Nuno's move from Vitória de Guimarães to Deportivo de La Coruña. He had met the goalkeeper in a bar in Guimarães. After that deal, Mendes gradually attracted more Portuguese players, including Jorge Andrade. Hugo Viana's move from Sporting CP to Newcastle United in the Premier League for around €12 million in 2002 was his first major international transfer.
Part of Mendes's success was ostensibly based on his frequent presence at soccer schools and youth teams throughout Portugal, spotting and signing up young players, as he did with Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma.
In 2008, GestiFute announced that it had entered into partnership with Creative Artists Agency (CAA) in the United States to "create global opportunities for current and future clients," following CAA's expansion into the sports market.
"Sir Alex Ferguson wrote in his new autobiography Leading: 'There are some decent agents, but you don't need all the fingers of one hand to count them. Jorge Mendes is one."
His clients include: Ronaldo, Chelsea striker Diego Costa, Manchester City and French international defender Eliaquim Mangala, Real Madrid winger James Rodriguez, Portuguese international Fábio Coentrão, Real Madrid defender Pepe, Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil defender Thiago Silva, Radamel Falcao currently on loan at Chelsea, AS Monaco's Ricardo Carvalho, Angel di Maria the Paris Saint-Germain and Argentine international, Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and football manager Jose Mourinho.
Contracts worth: £626.3m
Commissions (career payments for completed deals): £62.8m
Jorge Mendes is ranked #2 richest sports agent in the world by Forbes.