Late Thursday evening, Nicolas Otamendi verbally made his intentions known to leave the Mestalla for a top club, with Manchester United and Real Madrid the two most likely destinations. I can’t blame the sentiment; Otamendi has had a top season for Valencia, and bigger clubs were always going to come calling for the defender. Now that it’s inevitable the Argentine will leave for greener pastures, we will see how Valencia Club de Futbol conducts their transfer negotiations as it seems multiple moving parts stand in the way of making this a clean transfer. Otamendi’s agent, Eugenio Lopez is hoping that Portuguese super agent, Jorge Mendes, convinces the Spanish side into reducing the transfer fee, which is currently stands at €50m. Mendes has a close relationship with Valencia’s owner, Peter Lim, and it will be interesting to see where his allegiance lies, as he’s also close with the teams who are bidding for the standout defender.
During this transfer window, we have already seen the sway Jorge Mendes has with the Valencia brass. While VCF president Amadeo Salvo and sporting director, Rufete were hashing out the deal between the club and Marseille midfielder, Giannelli Imbula, it came through the news cycle that the club accepted and agreed to a deal to bring in Sao Paulo’s Rodrigo Caio. Mendes and his client and VCF manager Nuno Espirito Santo had their hands all over that deal which has caused a rift between the upper management (Salvo and Rufete) and the club’s manager and his agent (Nuno and Mendes). With this drama hanging over the club’s head with transfer dealings, Peter Lim gave the authority of transfers to the manager and left Rufete the decision of whether to stay with the club and deal with the academy or leave. As such, Lim basically made the decision to allow Jorge Mendes free reign (if he didn’t have it already) to help the club with transfer negotiations.
The Singaporean owner and the club have been firm with the €50m release clause tag on Otamendi. While it’s evident Nicolas was an important player for the team last season, that price does seem a bit steep for a defender. However, rightfully, the club is attempting to shape an image of not submitting to lower deals and making bidders earn the right to buy their footballers. As discussed before, Jorge is tasked to lowering the asking price for the player, so top clubs would be more enticed towards agreeing to a deal.
This is where things get tricky for the super agent; he wants to be able continue doing business with top clubs and being able to accomplish the goal of reducing the fee would keep him in good graces with those clubs. The obvious benefit here, is that with these strong relationships, his clients will be favorably looked at by those top clubs in the future. But, being VCF’s de-facto sporting director, he does not want to ruffle the feathers of the guy who gave him the authority to strike deals in Peter Lim, and that could put more than a bit of strain in their relationship if the defender leaves for less money than the club expected.
The general overriding sentiment is that agents are in it for their clients and for themselves, which is why it is tricky to allow an agent the ability to be as close to club affairs as it seems Mendes is. And it does not make for good optics on the supporters side to see someone in his position making decisions when, for the most part, it’s for his benefit rather than the club. So there is that tight-rope that he has to ride. While I am not under the assumption that an less than expected transfer fee would kill the relationship between owner and super agent, it would make those in the VCF back room keep a closer eye on how business is done, especially when the goals for the two party’s interests do not align.
As the negotiations continue, I am personally looking forward to how this shakes out. I am not under the impression that we will see the Otamendi in Los Che jersey in the 2015/2016 season, but I do hope for a healthy compromise for us so we can strengthen our side as we continue to make strides in this project. At least for now, we are hopefully that Jorge Mendes does not meddle too much in our business and short-change us out of a deal of a footballer who is more of a player than the defender who went for 50m the year before. Looking at you, David Luiz.