FourFourTwo’s 100 most influential people in football right now: 90-81
Words: Seb Stafford-Bloor, Amit Katwala, Michael Yokhin, Alex Hess, Jeff Kassouf
90. Constantin Dumitrascu
Agents like Mino Raiola and Jorge Mendes love to be in the spotlight, but Dumitrascu prefers to do his business quietly. That doesn't mean that he's any less successful, though.
On the contrary: Mondial Sports Management agency is arguably the most profitable at the moment. Dumitrascu's clients include N'Golo Kante, Philippe Coutinho, Samuel Umtiti, Edinson Cavani, Nemanja Matic, Douglas Costa and Raphael Varane.
It's easy to understand why Dumitrascu doesn't limit himself to specific countries like many of his colleagues. His agency is multicultural and attracts clients of different nationalities.
With agents' fees making a lot of headlines lately, clubs tend to prefer quiet negotiators like Dumitrascu, and his influence – which is immense already – is likely to grow even further in the future. MY
89. Gordon Taylor
Taylor, in essence, is the leader of a trade union, which gives him a particular type of influence – the sort which doesn’t waiver depending on how he’s viewed by the public.
Perhaps the true measure of his status is shown in how resistant he’s been to criticism – and there’s been plenty of that. Between 2001 and 2015, Taylor’s salary rose from just under £320,000 per year to a quite staggering £3.4m (including bonuses), making him the highest-paid union official in the world.
There have been controversies, too: the parallels he drew between the Ched Evans case and the victims of the Hillsborough tragedy were hopelessly clumsy and, in 2013 after urging football to adopt a zero tolerance policy towards gambling, it was revealed that he had an unpaid debt of over £100,000 with an unnamed bookmaker.
Nevertheless, he retains the support of the body he represents, which comprises the lifeblood of the game itself, so remains an extremely affluent, extremely prominent part of the community. Teflon Gordon. SSB
88. Leonardo Jardim
The 42-year-old Portuguese coach, who never played professional football, has proved to be one of the most important and flexible specialists of a new generation of managers.
His work at Braga, Olympiakos and Sporting had to be respected, but Jardim is now at an entirely new level with Monaco. Having been heavily criticised in the press for two years after arriving to the principality in 2014, he suddenly turned Monaco into the most exciting outfit in Europe.
"This team cannot expose itself too much offensively. One of the virtues of the coach is to adapt to the club, to the moment, to situations," Jardim once said.
This term it seems the situation has changed, and the coach felt ready to fully unleash the brilliant talents of Bernardo Silva, Thomas Lemar and Kylian Mbappe. Monaco will win the Ligue 1 title for the first time since 2000, and Jardim has proved a brilliant mentor to his young stars. The future belongs to him. MY
Back in 2014, Manchester United’s commercial director Richard Arnold made an odd boast: “The new pope was announced the same day that Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement – and we trended number one on social media!”
Odd, that is, until you begin to understand the context. “We're directly in touch with 120 million fans,” Arnold went on. “Fan engagement underpins everything we do. It drives sponsorship integration, which is a huge source of funds for us.”
Last year was the first in which commercial deals will account for a majority of United’s income. Sponsorship and merchandising makes up much of this, but so does the club’s capacity to sell itself to would-be corporate partners who are simply seeking an audience. The form that audience takes? Social media followers. (This month Cristiano Ronaldo became the first footballer to reach 100 million followers on Instagram, a fact which produced a flurry of news coverage.)
United are anything but unique in this regard, albeit rather further down the road of digital corporate marketing than many of their peers. All of which helps to sketch a rough picture of the clout held by major social media firms in the modern game, with Instagram high among them. AH
Women’s football has never seen a player like Marta, and it’s unlikely to see another again. The five-time FIFA World Player of the Year is among the most recognisable players ever, and even aged 34 her technical ability is unrivalled.
That kind of play forever demands respect on the field, while few stars have the sort of clout that she does away from the pitch. Marta was one of the torch-bearers for the 2016 Rio Olympics, a long-overdue recognition of what she should mean to Brazil. She was largely ahead of her time, lighting up the world in an era when her country’s federation wasn’t serious enough about supporting a programme that could, with just a little support, have several winner’s medals by now.
Marta’s immediate future is in Orlando, and the 2019 World Cup or 2020 Olympics could be her swansong, but she has the background to make a difference in the sport well past her playing days. JK