An Israeli soccer agent is believed to be behind the historic signing for Tottenham. If you have heard of this news, definitely, you have come across this name: Pini Zahavi. Who is he?
Renowned as one of the best-connected men in the game, Pini has shaped some of the most celebrated deals ever agreed.
The first of his kind to enjoy the label “super-agent”, Pini Zahavi has been brokering some of the biggest deals in world football. This he has done for more than three decades.
Back in August 2017, he was the man who engineered the biggest deal of them all that saw Neymar move from Barcelona to Paris St-German for a staggering £190m. This deal remains to be a world record to this day.
Pini is not a traditional agent where he represents a player’s interests. He is more of a facilitator. A deal broker who uses contacts and relationships developed in the years since his major deal bringing Aviv Cohen from Maccabi Tel Aviv to Liverpool for £200,000 in 1979.
Folklore has it that he met Liverpool’s Peter Robinson in an airport when delayed by fog and convinced him to sign Cohen.
The son of a shopkeeper, Zahavi was a sports journalist for several Israeli newspapers after dropping out of university.
He convinced Roman Abramovich to buy Chelsea in 2003 having considered bids for Tottenham and Manchester United previously.
A year later, Zahavi brokered the deal that saw the Chelsea owner put his club in the hands of the then Porto manager, Jose Mourinho.
To this day, Zahavi remains a friend and close confidant of the Chelsea owner.
The workaholic deal-broker, Pini first became friends with Neymar and his family. The friendship began when the 17-year-old Neymar was beginning his career at Santos.
Eight years later, he brokered the deal which saw Brazil’s No 10 move to the French capital. A deal he earned a reported £10m for negotiation.
“Success never comes by accident,” he said after the PSG deal was concluded. “If I am successful, it is because it’s an everyday job and I have been in it for decades.”
Recently, Pini has been involved with Tottenham. He has negotiated the deals to bring Sege Aurier, N’Dombele and Lucas Moura to North London.
But still, he remains good friends with Jorge Mendes, the head of Gestifute, the world’s biggest football agency who has looked after Mourinho’s interests for most of the last decade.
Pini’s biggest deals
- 1979- Aviv Cohen from Maccabi Tel Aviv to Liverpool for £200,000
- 2000- Rio Ferdinand leaves West Ham for Leeds in £18m deal
- 2001- Juan Sebastian Veron arrives at Manchester United from Lazio for £1m
- 2002- Rio Ferdinand this time from Leeds to Manchester United for £
- 2003- Pini plays a central role in Roman Abramovich’s deal to acquire Chelsea and a year later oversees Mourinho’s arrival as manager
- 2017- the big one as Neymar becomes the world’s most expensive player signing for PSG for £190m
- 2019- Jose Mourinho ends 11 months without a management role by becoming Tottenham’s head coach.