Agent Mendes under fire for not taking Aguero to Real Madrid

Europe

Real Madrid will be without the France striker Karim Benzema tomorrow for the trip to play Espanyol amid claims that the club could this summer have signed Sergio Aguero, were it not for the Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes.

Claims by the Barcelona-based paper Sport suggest that, before his move to Manchester City in July, Aguero was lined up to go to the Bernabeu but when he refused to sign for Mendes' agency, Gestifute, which also takes care of Real coach Jose Mourinho, the doors to Madrid were closed to him.

Sport claims that Mourinho was interested last year in adding the striker to Benzema and Gonzalo Higuain, who will start tomorrow in the Frenchman's absence.

Aguero is alleged to have met Mourinho and Mendes in April to talk about moving from his agents IMG. He never made the switch and the attempts by the head of IMG, Bruno Satin, to work with Gestifute – with Peter Kenyon as intermediary – subsequently failed, leaving Manchester City as the player's next option.

Fifa is investigating an investment fund set up by Kenyon and Mendes for any conflict of interest. Some of the players involved are managed by Mendes, whose interest in moving them on could be increased if he stands to gain an investor's percentage from transfers.

In a recent attack on Real Madrid's current president, Florentino Perez, the club's former president, Ramon Calderon, made reference to the growing influence of Mendes saying: "Madrid has a boss and his name is Mendes."

The Portuguese agent has three other high-profile Real stars on his books including the utility player Fabio Coentrao, whose move to Madrid from Benfica in the summer for an estimated €30m (£27m) raised eyebrows among Real directors.

This weekend Barcelona, a point ahead of Real but one behind the early pace-setters Real Betis in La Liga, are at Sporting Gijon while Betis entertain Levante before Spain face the Czech Republic and Scotland in Euro 2012 qualifiers.

National team coach Vicente del Bosque named nine Barça players in his squad but there was no place for the leading Spanish goalscorer Roberto Soldado, suggesting Fernando Torres could be in line to start.

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