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Jeff Shi: Wolves are not overly reliant on Jorge Mendes' agency

Jeff Shi insists Wolves do not rely on Jorge Mendes for their transfer business – while he declared Fabio Silva as the ‘best wonderkid in the world at his age’.

Jeff Shi of Fosun International Limited and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Guo Guangchang the chairman of Fosun International Limited owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Jorge Mendes Sports Agent.
Jeff Shi of Fosun International Limited and Wolverhampton Wanderers, Guo Guangchang the chairman of Fosun International Limited owner of Wolverhampton Wanderers and Jorge Mendes Sports Agent.

The relationship between super-agent Mendes, his Gestifute agency and Wolves is well documented, with the Portuguese bringing several several players to the club.

Despite the success the club has had in recent years, supporters have long been concerned about Wolves’ dealings with Mendes – who also facilitated the sales of Diogo Jota and Matt Doherty last summer.

But executive chairman Shi has attempted to ease those fears and insists that the club does not rely on any single agent or agency for their transfer dealings.

He said: “We don’t rely on any agency, I have to clarify that, we work with all the agencies.

“But, first of all, we don’t work only with Jorge, we work with many different agencies, but why the people, the fans perceive maybe there are more players in the squad from Gestifute, what I can say is that all agencies are providing a service to the club, so of course it is our value, our favour to pick the right guy to help us.

“The right guy means he, or they, can provide a first-class service to us. So when you have a good agent and a not-so-good agent, who will you pick?

“So to protect the club, to help us to have a fair deal, the terms are easy to negotiate with and always providing us good choices, who will you pick? Of course, you will pick the best one.

“When you have already had some kind of experience for first-class seats, you will not go back to economic seats, so that’s the truth.

“But Gestifute cannot cover every market – so maybe in Portugal they are strong, but we also have many more agents who work with us. Especially after Brexit, I think we have more chance to explore the market in South America, in Asia, so I think we need more agents to work with us.

“But, in nature, who can provide the best service to us we will choose to work with them, so it’s not about reliance on anyone, even Jorge Mendes my good friend, I want to say that.”

Another concern among fans is the fees paid to Mendes’ agency for transfers.

But general manager of football operations Matt Wild insists they are no higher than any other agency at this level.

“I think first and foremost let’s not forget we’ve bought some top talent in for some very competitive transfer fees,” he said. “I personally think that we’ve made some real value in the players we’ve brought in – Jota, Neves, Neto, we’ve bought them for relatively low transfer fees. The proof is in the pudding with Diogo, who’s gone to Liverpool – we’ve probably made £30million profit.

“Ruben’s value has gone up. Neto’s has gone up. Raul Jimenez now, so why would we not continue to have a relationship with them. I think the evidence is there. I don’t think they’re charging any more fees than what is out there in the market.”

One of the players Mendes did help bring in is young striker Fabio Silva.

The 18-year-old signed for £35million last summer – £6.4million of which was paid directly to Gestifute.

Fabio Silva of Wolverhampton Wanderers reacts. (AMA)

Silva has steadily improved as the season has progressed and Shi now believes he is the leading forward in world football for his age.

He added: “Fabio, at the beginning, I thought he is the top player at his age in the world. Now, I think it has even proved that, because not so many 18-year-olds have played in the Premier League, score four goals, five goals, and maybe you can hear more names around the world, OK some wonderkid here or there, but no-one is playing the same as Fabio is doing now in the league, in the toughest league in the world.

“You can do something maybe in Germany, in Portugal, but it’s different from the Premier League, so I still keep my position, I say that he is at least top three, or top one, best wonderkid in the world at his age. Everyone has subjective views about a player and maybe some say, OK, he’s not so strong, he’s not so fast, but when you look at football, you can see a very, very smart player there and also it’s not easy to find a good striker.

“A striker normally takes time to become a good striker, but at 18-years-old to be so good, it’s amazing. So I like him the most.

“And after he came here it’s more interesting because, before, I didn’t know much about his character, his personality, now I see him training hard every day, always smiling, doesn’t care too much about what the fans say, always focusing on the training ground and doing something very good.

“So you can see the obvious growth and improvement in the last four or five months, it’s because he has a good character and personality and it’s very important, so that is my view.

“I make the decision to buy the boy and it’s truly because I believe in him to be one of the best players not only in Wolves but in the Premier League in the future.”

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