It had gotten pretty quiet regarding Atlético’s No. 1 summer target Diego Ribas. But last night, I was woken up by the endless beeping of my mobile as my precious friends of the “Real World Majadahonda” could not stop talking about the latest buzz of the day.
The Spanish sports paper AS reignited the rumours about a possible transfer of the “other Diego”, when they quoted Ribas’ father (who also is his agent), saying that an Atlético representative will meet with Wolfsburg today to negotiate his transfer back to the Manzanares.
To be honest, I have heard these kinds of rumours and reports about a Diego return being close so many times since he left Atlético after his season-long loan, that, for me, it is hard to believe anymore.
During the summer everyone knew we wanted Diego, but nothing happened. Every time there was something in the news, only a few days later, I would read an article in the German press about him and how happy he is at Wolfsburg. There were so many things that were said during the last few months that it is truly difficult to discern what you can believe and what is just false.
So I won’t believe any of those rumours to be true, and won’t get overexcited, until I see Diego standing inside the Calderón, with the red and white shirt on, holding up the ball with ease. But that’s not to say I won’t be thinking about it.
First, let’s look at the facts:
1) Diego is currently playing for Wolfsburg.
2) His contract expires at the end of the season.
3) So far, he has played all eight matches and has not been subbed out once.
4) Wolfsburg only have nine points out of a possible 24.
5) If Wolfsburg aren’t able to extend Diego’s contract before winter, he is able to negotiate freely and without their knowledge starting in January.
6) That means, if they can’t convince him to extend, the winter transfer window might be their last chance to sell him for a fee before they lose him next summer, getting nothing.
This sounds like a good chance for Atleti. We all know Cholo Simeone REALLY REALLY wanted this player, and that Diego was the only player he requested of the directors before the summer break. But now, we could get him for free, or maybe in January, paying a much smaller transfer fee than we would have had to in the summer!
I have to be honest, though, I also see some negatives that leave me feeling really unsure about his return. I liked Diego’s performance at Atleti, but….
I am not sure Wolfsburg will give him away cheaply in the winter, at all. Most clubs would, but with Volkswagen pumping in all the money Wolfsburg needs, the money they would lose by keeping Diego around until the end of the season is merely a laughing matter.
Additionally, with their almost-unlimited finances, it will be difficult for us to match any of the offers for a contract extension they may make. The only advantage we hold is playing in the Champions League — if we don’t drop out at the group stage. With that comes more publicity for the midfielder, maybe the possibility of getting a last-minute ticket to the World Cup in Brazil.
Another problem: Diego’s excessive wages. If there is something Wolfsburg is known for in Germany, it is that they pay huge wages to EVERY player. Even the fringe players get a salary that most of the Primera División players, and surely some of our players, as well, could only dream about. Diego is said to be one of the Bundesliga’s top earners — his salary is said to be €8 m. Without bonuses.
So, he would have to agree to a large salary cut, as Atlético a) can’t pay the same wages due to the lack of funds in their bank accounts and the LFP’s restrictions, and b) one huge earner on an otherwise fairly equal team could be a problem in the dressing room.
But even if he did take a pay cut, and we did get him cheap or for free, I’m still looking at the team, thinking: “Do we really need him right now?”
Yes, Atlético has been lacking a creative “10” for years. I have ranted dozens and dozens of times in front of my computer about our lack of creativity in the midfield. But, currently, we are doing fine without him. We found a working system. Do we really want to change our winning system? Yes, there is a large chance that we would improve further with Diego in our line-up, but what if it hinders how we play now? We would have to change our system. Would someone in our current starting line-up would have to go to the bench?
To earn money for his wage bill, someone would have to leave the club. And what about Óliver Torres? Isn’t he supposed to be Atlético’s “new hope”? We would have to loan him out for him to get playing time, because with Diego at the club, he would not get any at all. Is that what we want, and what we should do?
What do you think about it?