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Rob BlanchetteFeatured ColumnistMarch 14, 2017

Powerful agent Mino Raiola and Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward have reportedly struck a “close” friendship after their business transactions together.

Jack Wilson of the Daily Star reported the Red Devils supremo and the representative of Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Romelu Lukaku “have now become friends following their regular transfer dealings.”

The pair orchestrated the world-record transfer of Pogba back to United after he decided to exit Serie A champions Juventus, and they also convinced Ibrahimovic to leave Paris Saint-Germain last summer.

Italian-born Dutch football agent Mino Raiola speaks to journalists on September 2, 2016 during presentation of Nice's football club new signings at the Allianz Riviera stadium in Nice, southeastern France. / AFP / VALERY HACHE        (Photo credit should

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According to Matt Law of the Telegraph, Lukaku is now on Woodward’s radar after the Everton player admitted he does not have a new deal in place to stay at Goodison Park.

Greg O’Keeffe of the Liverpool Echo reported that the Belgium international intends to seek out a new challenge in the near future and intends on departing his club to play on a bigger stage.

Wilson wrote about the burgeoning friendship: “The executive vice-chairman will hope his close allegiance could help Manchester United get more deals over the line when the window reopens.

“In the summer, Raiola took over from super agent Jorge Mendes in ruling the market.

“Paul Pogba’s move to United set the club back £89m – smashing the world record – and was eased through by Raiola.

“He banked big cash from the sale and subsequently bought himself a £7m luxury villa in Miami.

“Weeks earlier, Raiola had done two other big deals with Woodward.

“He represents Henrikh Mkhitaryan and thrashed out a switch to take him from Borussia Dortmund to Old Trafford.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 04:  Romelu Lukaku of Everton beats Henrikh Mkhitaryan of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park on December 4, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Laurence

Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Raiola is the key player in Lukaku’s next destination, and with United considering potential replacements for the ageing Ibrahimovic, the 23-year-old will interest manager Jose Mourinho after a successful season, per Law.

Lukaku would be an ideal replacement for the iconic Swede, and the relationship between his agent and United would create a bridge in any potential transfer.

The striker has been sensational this season, scoring 19 goals in 27 Premier League appearances, according to WhoScored.com.

Manchester United's executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward (L) talks with Manchester United's Scottish former manager Alex Ferguson before kick off of the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Southampton at Old Trafford in Manc

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Woodward’s reputation has improved markedly since last summer after a slow start to life as United’s primary executive.

His direct dealings with agents such as Raiola can only be a good thing for the Red Devils as they once again hunt a place at the top table of world football.

Pogba’s arrival at the Theatre of Dreams stunned many, especially with United out of the UEFA Champions League, but Woodward found a way to orchestrate the biggest transfer deal in football history.



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