Although Mino Raiola passed away in April 2022 at the age of 54, his legacy continues. In the world of superagents, where women are rare, Rafaela Pimienta, a 40-year-old lawyer, is making her mark. Despite being a relatively unknown name, she is fast becoming one of the most influential women in the sport.

With no social media presence, Rafaela Pimienta remains largely unknown to many football fans. But her power is far more significant than one might think. Of Brazilian origin, Pimienta represents notable figures such as Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt, and former PSG star Marco Verratti.

Pimienta met ‘Mino’ Raiola in 2004 and has been working with the famous Italian agent all the way to his death in 2022. 

Speaking to Sky Sports Italia, Pimenta first discussed how she met and started working with Raiola.

I met Mino in Brazil, I was doing a job for a company of Rivaldo and César Sampaio, they had a company. It was called CSR. I was doing the legal part, the constitution of this club. One fine day I went to their office of this CSR and there was a guy sitting there, smoking like crazy and asking 1000 questions. 

But really 1000 questions, he wanted to know the law, what the country was like. He wanted to know everything and so we started chatting. On the second day he showed up with a guy and told me: ‘This is a player from São Paulo and he has to go to Italy: what should I do? Find me a way’ and he meant it, because at that time everything was very new in Brazil. 

From that moment on we really started to work seriously, to do more structured, more organised things. And at a certain point Mino said to me: ‘But then to do things seriously, why don’t you come to Europe?’

And he found me a foothold in Padova and I thought I would take a year at my own pace, do everything and learn. Two months later there was already so much going on that I was all over the place with Mino.

She then took over Raiola’s player agency, ‘One Sarl,’ based in Monaco, where she currently resides. According to the agency EFE, the combined value of Pimienta’s clients exceeds 1 billion dollars.

Rafaela Pimienta initially studied and later taught law at the University of Sao Paulo before meeting Raiola in 2004. Their growing bond led Raiola to entrust her with his agency when he could no longer lead it due to the illness that eventually claimed his life in 2022. In his final months, it was Rafaela Pimienta who led the company. 

Pimienta’s Vision and Challenges

Pimienta’s vision for her clients is ambitious. In an interview with Gianluca Di Marzio, she predicted that Erling Haaland could be the first footballer to command a transfer fee close to 1 billion euros

I am not saying a transfer fee would reach this amount. I mean the whole package you generate throughout your career. Today you can play until 35. Think of the salary, transfer fees, broadcasting revenues, sponsors, ticket sales, shirts. With a player like Erling it gets to one billion” – said Pimenta in an interview with the Guardian.

This bold forecast not only highlights her high expectations but also her deep understanding of the football market’s potential.

Rafaela Pimienta with Erling Haaland and his father.

Despite her prominent position in the world of football, Rafaela Pimienta has faced sexist remarks. She recalled instances where, despite being present with Raiola, people would prefer speaking to him, attributing to the respect he commanded as a major agent. This often led to dismissive comments like, ‘What does a woman know about football?’as reported by Relevo.

The Future of Football and Raiola’s Legacy

Looking to the future, Pimienta sees the digitalization of football as an inevitable trend. She envisions a world where virtual experiences in the metaverse could revolutionize how fans interact with the sport, potentially opening new revenue streams and ways to engage with football stars like Haaland.

Rafaela Pimenta

Many soccer journalists call her “the most powerful women in soccer”

Raiola’s agency has been known for its tough stance, often demanding substantial agent commissions, which has led to some clubs being reluctant to engage with it. Even after Raiola’s passing, this approach continues, with Pimienta asserting that their actions are always in the best interests of their clients.  

However, as Pimienta herself told Relevo, “I can’t be like Mino Raiola; he’s impossible to imitate”. With her now leading the agency for over a year without him, she’s imposing her own legacy, but the direction of One Sarl so far does not seem very different from Raiola’s.