Diego – Reformed, Reconciled and Here to stay

After several weeks of talks, pre-agreements and negotiations we are now in August and although there are still a few weeks before the official transfer windows closes, VfL Wolfsburg’s own transfer window has already been shut. Felix Magath himself said that if a player is not sold until the end of July he would remain at the club. The experienced and meticulous Magath wants to have matters handled in advance this time around considering last season where several key players left the club late in August and caused unrest within the squad. Several clubs throughout the world tried to sign one of Wolfsburg’s biggest talents. Atlético Madrid, Flamengo and several Russian clubs tried to sign Brazilian playmaker Diego but in the end none of them could reach an agreement with Wolfsburg.

Magath wanted to originally offload the playmaker who just came back from a successful one year loan spell at Atlético Madrid because of his misbehavior the season before. On the last day of Diegos first season with Wolfsburg, where the club was fighting relegation, Magath decided to leave him off the squad and Diego instantly went home. Suffice to say, the German press had a field day and relations between player and manager worsened from then on.

Returning from his loan spell things didn’t seem to get any better. Diego injured his knee and Magath moaned about his fitness level. But as no club was able to sign Diego, Magath announced during a press conference last Friday that he would be willing to give Diego a second chance. The announcement might have hit close to home to Diego, who was always a player in need of his manager’s trust.  The player himself apologized for his wrong doings with an honest and open letter to the fans and seems to have put the past behind him:

Dear VfL supporters,

I know that I have disappointed a lot of you at the end of last season, although I was welcomed here with open arms. My family and I always felt very good living here. We are now living again in our house in Wolfsburg and it feels very good to be back. I already apologized to our coach last season and I have learned from my mistakes. I don’t think I have to say more about this issue now.

I am happy to get a second, fair chance from VfL Wolfsburg and from my colleagues at the club. I’m very thankful and happy that they put their trust in me. I really hope that you, the fans, will also give me a second chance. I can promise you that I want to be the player that leads the club with the other players to Europe again. To achieve this goal I beg you for your unrestricted support.

Yours faithfully, Diego

Just like that the two looked reconciled.  Magath went further and praised him and even awarded him with the number ten jersey. Magath said:

In our community it is common to forgive mistakes. We need to look forward now. Diego has ‘Champions League-calibre’. A player with his skill increases our chances to reach one of the top spots in the league.

Sure enough, Diego was also rewarded by his teammates and voted into the influential players council at the end of their training camp in Austria. A clever move by Magath who created an aspiring team with players like Naldo, Rodríguez, Jiracek, Pilar, Olic and Dost. A player like Diego with all his experience and class is the missing piece to form a team that can go very far this season.  Magath has seemingly put his pride aside for the greater good and Diego showed last year that he still has much to offer.

He had a great season at Atlético Madrid. The traditional club from the Manzanares River were desperately in need of a playmaker and therefore supporters instantly fell in love with the 27-year old Brazilian who took a great part of the club winning their second Europa League trophy in three years. He quickly settled into the team and formed a great trio with both strikers Falcao and Adrián. They became one of the most lethal partnerships in the last Europa League campaign. At the end of the season Diego scored six goals and assisted 14 for Atlético. During the cup celebration of the Europa League fans who supported him throughout the whole season publicly begged him to stay with famous ‘Diego quédate’-chants (‘Diego please stay’). A moment the player later described as one of the greatest of his career. But it was not to be, the club has a very tight budget and simply could not afford the ten million transfer-fee Wolfsburg demanded for his services.

The public apology by the player comes quite handy for Magath though. He can use his immense qualities to get the best out of the team, especially one that was so sorely lacking in creativity last year, and will not lose his face for taking him back.  Last summer Magath ruled out the possibility of Diego ever playing for the club again but how quickly things can change.  Perhaps more than any other player in the Bundesliga, Diego needed the renewed trust of a manager to rebuild not only his form but also his reputation, even if that trust was predicated on convenience.  In the end, the reunion may just be the best thing for both parties.

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