All that glitters is not gold, and the grass is not always greener on the other side are old proverbs that are still very much relevant today. Your neighbour’s wife is not more beautiful than yours and quite frankly VfL Wolfsburg are not a step up from VfB Stuttgart.
If you rewind the Bundesliga clock to May 7th 2016, it was a dark day for both VfB Stuttgart and Daniel Didavi. The Swabians final home match of the season witnessed a 3-1 defeat to Mainz meaning that for the first time in some 40 years that VfB were all-but relegated and the customary farewell to the fans turned a little nasty.
Daniel Didavi bore the brunt of the fans’ frustration and anger- mainly because he had announced a few weeks earlier his intention to jump the sinking ship and join VfL Wolfsburg. The player, who had joined the club’s youth ranks as a seven-year-old, and who had become a firm fan favourite was now the target of abuse.
Having let his contract run down, the player born just 30km from the Mercedes-Benz Arena left on a free-transfer to join the Volkswagen-backed club up in Lower Saxony. The grass would surely be greener there?
However, having endured a relegation battle (failed) with VfB, Didavi found himself once again in the midst of another struggle against the drop as Wolfsburg massively under-performed. The former German U-21 international couldn’t hold down a regular starting berth, but did score four goals and provided three assists.
It was pretty much a repeat prescription for Wolfsburg last season as they struggled once again surviving only courtesy of the relegation play-off. Didavi however found himself standing out as one of the few positives in a hugely disappointing campaigns for die Wölfe. Having finally overcome a niggling knee problem, he proved his worth with nine goals and six assists giving him 15 scorer points from 30 Bundesliga appearances.
Another relegation play-off was survived (although Didavi missed out on both legs through injury), but like Mario Gomez and Christian Gentner before him, the route back to Swabia from Lower Saxony proved too hard to resist and a swap deal involving striker Daniel Ginczek plus some €10 million sees the talented playmaker back where he started his career and looking to re-find his feet under Tayfun Korkut.
“We are extremely happy and proud to have Daniel back home. He is one of the most threatening midfielders in the league and he is a VfB man with heart and soul” explained VfB club president Wolfgang Dietrich. “With his footballing qualities and identification with VfB, Dida fits in perfectly to the route that the club is taking.”
And Didavi himself is keen on proving that the return of the prodigal son will a positive step for all concerned as he returns to the Cannstatt Boys.
“I am truly delighted to be home – I really missed the fans, the staff and the complete surroundings here. My contact to VfB was always very close – to many staff members, the team and the president, Wolfgang Dietrich.
“When the opportunity arose for me to make the move to VfB, I was immediately clear that I wanted to return. I wore the VfB jersey as a kid and I am just dying to pull that jersey back on again.”
Perhaps proof enough that the grass in Swabia is indeed greener than that in Lower Saxony. With Wolfsburg finishing 16th and Stuttgart’s superb Rückrunde firing them to 7th last season, few would argue that the ancient proverb is truer than ever.
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