Soapbox Suzy: Take back Diego Ribas, or not?

Will the return of the playmaker mean good news for the club?

Good idea? Bad?  (AS)

Good idea? Bad?

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?

  • Staurlando

    Honestly, I think that, Diego is the best, finest and coolest player ever seen on a field. His moving and ball control is just… my eyes can’t get enough. Actually, he’s my all-time favorite. I’m disqualified for this soapbox, or at least incompetent. But seriously, if there is a opportunity – DO IT.

    A midfield with Óliver Torres and Diego. Don’t mind the defending, that is a – truly – sick entertaining midfield!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I and some friends just had a discussion about this subject in the previous post “The Aftermath” and I repeat what I said there :
    if Barca don’t have a problem having Xavi, Iniesta, & Cesc where only 2 of the 3 have a place in the starting XI in most of their games, and the same case for Pedro, Neymar & Alexies where only 2 of them have a place to play next to Messi
    and the same thing can be said about Real Madrid where 3 great central midfielders: Alonso, Moderic & Khedira are competing for 2 spots (not to mention the other 2 : Illarra & Casemiro)
    and in front of them there are Bale, di Maria & Isco who compete for 2 spots in the attacking midfield next to Ronaldo
    if they don’t have a problem with that, so why should we ?!!

    so -in the sporting side- I don’t see any problem from bringing Diego back

    and about Oliver, it’s not a bad thing for him, in fact it’s the opposite, it’s a good thing, he can learn from the best, it will be a great experience for the kid to play next to Diego, even for 20 minutes every other game

    and do not forget that the season is very long,
    if we reached UCL quarter-finals & Copa del Rey semi-finals so we are talking about 56 games, which can be 60 if we reached both UCL & Cup finals (why not ?!!)

    The only problem I can see is the financial issue
    I believe that we have reached our maximum wages limit set by LFP, which is something around 68 million
    so unless LFP raised our wages ceiling in January because of the money we will earn from UEFA (and I don’t think these kind of regulations can be changed in the middle of the season) and even if Diego agreed to cut his wage to the half (4 million) we will still have to let go of one of our players who earns that much (only Villa earns 4 million after taxes) , or 2 players who earns 2 million each

    This is the real issue that should be disccussed and -in my opinion- should be declared from the club to the fans


    Diego is also my favorite player, I love his game style and his quality. That being said, I don’t think it’s a good Idea to bring him on board midseason. And my reasons are very simple, Arda had placed himself as our star, Diego will directly affect Arda’s role on the team as well as Koke’s, he is the one that took Diego place after he left, and he has not dissapointed so far, if fact he has proven himself as a huge part of this team, and again with Diego in play, all that chemestry is lost. Diego would give us a quality boost for sure, but the germans arent just going to let him leave, they will make it very hard and ask for an incredidle ammount of money that our club is not going to pay. Diego’s bad attitude to lower his wages to come to Atletico left a very sour taste on everyones mouths. He would give us more trouble than help at this point in the season. However if he still wants to play for atletico at the end of the season and he wants to lower his wages, he ‘s more than welcome! And Simeone would have all of the preseason to change our strategy and make Diego Fit in.

  • kris

    Diego would be a great addition again, but we can’t have such an expensive player as our backup. I love this team as it is. All we need are cheap quality backups who can easily play role of a regular when needed.

  • starvs

    I think he must be brought back. I truly appreciate the chemistry issues others are bringing up and I realize I may be being naive, but I really trust Cholo to be able to handle that. I play of his caliber/quality simply cannot be passed up.

    The wages are the other issues, which who really knows how that will work out or what is really going on there….so i’ll just pretend it doesn’t exist.

  • Dircil

    Sell Villa and bring Diego back. That’s the solution for now!

  • Jeronamo

    I also have mixed feelings about this but whatever Cholo decides, I will be happy with because he knows the system he would implore regardless

  • Dircil

    Any news about Courtois leaving or staying by the end of the season? I just learnt from some sources that he’s interested in the move to Barca after this season ends!

  • Urban

    In Cholo we trust, I hope he will be the one to decide. I think Diego would be a great addition, but we

    We cant afford to have Diego o bech because we have 4x smaller budget than RM and FCB, not to mention to LFP restrictions you write about

  • Sebastian

    Wolfsburgs Coach just said that the team too much depends on Diego and he don’t want that and that Diego don’t fit the system he would like to see from his team. A few minutes ago germans press wrote that he can leave the team in winter.

  • kris

    The question is, will he be able to sit on the bench and take a 2/3 of a salary pay cut? We won’t be able to give such a huge salary to a player that is most likely going to be sitting on the bench. We play with the 4-4-2 formation and until it’s changed to the 4-2-3-1, I don’t see where Diego would fit in. He is a good goalscorer for the 4-2-3-1, though. I see the 4-2-3-1 giving us lots of goals as well as a great defense. Why load off Villa? If he doesn’t do well, he is most likely to leave in summer, as there won’t be any additional contract for him. I really hope he starts shining though, I love the guy.. But, I agree he is taking a huge salary for doing almost nothing at the moment. The 4-2-3-1 would give Oliver at least 30 mins of game time every game, and there will be competition between all the players as they are all hungry to play.. But, in Cholo we trust, so, Cholo will do whatever is best for the team. But I don’t want one player’s ego ruining how greatly the club is being managed atm.

  • GreekRojiblanco(piserakos)

    let’s analyse this…
    1. i will start with the financial status of this. Somewhere i read that if atleti progress from the group stages of the Champions League(probably we will) we will have the ability to spend about 10 more millions. Diego’s current contract is 8mil, it’s huge and i don’t think he can find that contract anywhere so he will probably agree a salary-cut but the most money i think we can spend to his salary is 4mill and this will be also big. Can he accept that? who knows, probably he can find a little better contract somewhere else it up to him. Of course a problem will be wolsburg’s will to let him leave(if we talk for a winter transfer) i don’t see them having financial difficulties and diego is too usefull for them so probably they won’t let him leave easily we can not give more than 10m for a transfer fee espatially for a player who will be free at summer so if they accept an offer about 5mill we can have a deal.
    2. Diego will be usefull for the team that’s unduptfull but he will be at starting 11? there are 2 ways. 1st (espatially at ‘easy’ games) koke can play as a cm at mario’s place and diego at koke’s place. 2nd if villa keep strugling he may go to the bench and we turn our formation to 4-5-1. I would go to the 2nd way and i will say that if villa strugling may we will buy diego but i don’t think this will happen…
    anyway if we buy a player i would go for kagawa he is much cheaper he will accept not be a star and he has also much quality

  • marcelo

    Haven’t been active these past few months but this has given me hope 🙂

    I’m probably Diego’s biggest fan here and forgive the bias but Diego does not deserve to be on the bench. I pray to God he signs now. The thought of a hungry Diego is frightening and he will fight for Cholo. His attitude and work rate after his previous stint at Atleti have been top class. Diego is a world class player and mark my words he will force his way into the starting 11.

  • marcelo

    as for his wage issues He was ready to take a paycut even this summer. Not his fault we couldn’t reach an agreement with Wolfsburg who made it impossible for us to negotiate with them. I’m sure Diego will be ready to take a paycut again.

  • kris

    Off topic, but our big boy Saul scored quite a great header today against Belarus. Would love to see him scoring goals for Atleti like this.

  • Lubo

    I’m with Marcelo in this. According to rumors from few months ago, Diego was open to lower his wage to be in our team, to re-join with Simeone, but the deal wasn’t concluded because of Wolfsburg’s transfer fee demands.
    And come on guys, when a player of Diego’s caliber (we all remember how he fought for rojiblancos during the time he spent here) knocks on the door and wants to be on board, should we bail out on him? And what about Simeone? Diego was Cholo’s transfer target NO.1. And it looks he still is.
    Diego is a world-class and he can make other players on the pitch shine too. The argument about Arda being the only “star-creative-force-and-that’s-how-it-should-be” is a complete horses**t (no offense). Remember how brilliant were those two beside each other? Arda (and Atletico) actually need another creative force, because relying solely on Arda’s talent results in a disappointment with his performance in 1 of 3 matches. In addition, Arda isn’t able to finish a match with satisfying fitness level, Cholo ALWAYS subs him in the last 3rd of the match. And what will happen if Arda injures himself? Yeah, we might be happy that Oli will be given a chance, but he’s not even 19. I think that’s too much responsibility for a KID in a team that is leading La Liga right now. Of course he will be our star, but not yet. We can’t rush him.
    And there’s one more thing. This sporting board is acting actually pretty wise lately. Paying debts, smart player additions, and after lot of disappointing transfers ruled by dumass Pitarch, we can see that, now we have a plan. And if the plan is to bring Diego back, I fully trust this plan.

  • i dont see any problem if we have Diego Back we are playing in three different matches d league, Ucl Copa and he wil surely help either as a starter or reserve. There are much better players warming bench the likes of Cesc, kagawa,Lamela williams,song to mention few. We need rotation to prevent fartigue which can affect any team no matter how good the starting 11 are and also in case of injury.

    So i think Diego’s return is not a bad deal and i will welcome him with open arms.

    Very soon Villa wil recover his scoring touch is just a matter of time.


  • Sash

    Hi guys! First time (well, sort of) commenter, long time reader! I have read this website since the day you launched it and I always look forward to read the comments! Always good conversations and this one is no different.

    I would gladly welcome back Diego! As many of you said already he did work his buttocks off for us last time he was here and I do not doubt for a second he would once again. And honestly, if that would result in the possibility that we could rest him, Koke, Arda or Villa every third or fourth game then that would be perfect. No one can play every game (except maybe Filipe or “the beast”) and I think a player of his calibre would lift the quality of the team enormously.
    He could play in the same position as Koke, Arda or Villa as seen against Real slightly behind Costa, or we could play a 4-5-1 with him, Koke and Arda as the three behind Costa.

    Last, I think he could be a great mentor for Oliver, since they share some traits and Oliver could pick up some new ones.

  • kris

    I agree with Sash, except for his formation. We love playing with two dms. 4-5-1 would allow us only to play with one. 4-2-3-1 would work best for us playing like that since it would allow Diego to play in the middle in between Koke and Arda and behind Diego Costa. This would also make our defense better. But, I like 4-5-1 as well, because this will give freedom to Koke to play in the middle alongside Diego, and David Villa would need to play behind the main striker alongside Arda, but one of our other dm would be dropped.

  • You know 4-2-3-1 is a form of 4-5-1? :p

    I’m not sure what to think of this. Extra creativity could be nice, but if they change to the 4-5-1 for him, there would be four strikers for one position…

  • Tommy

    Having the option of 4-4-2 whith Villa and 4-2-3-1 with Diego would be amazing.

    Better yet, having the option of playing both Villa (or Adrian or Leo) and Diego against easier teams or teams that park the bus will be very useful. Whether we play with one DM or play Koke as a DM.

  • ali_

    koke has nothing to do with the dm position.

  • Chewie

    I’m sure Simeone will figure it out, guys.

  • Sash

    I actually had 4-2-3-1 in mind when I wrote My last comment, could have been clearer on that!

    @ali_ : why not? I could easily see him playing a sort of deep lying playmaker for us in a couple of years, kind of like a pirlo role. But as chewie said, simeone Will figure all out 🙂

  • Eventually Koke will probably take over Gabi’s role.
    The captain band was just a prologue. He’ll be the center piece of midfield in a year or two.

  • ali_

    a deep-lying midfielder yes, but not defensive midfielder.

  • Tommy

    When I say DM I just mean part of the double pivot.

  • Positionwise it’s the same. Plus Koke knows how to defend. Now just a little better.

  • starvs

    Guys, Koke is a RB, I don’t know why you think he can’t defend…

  • marcelo

    no developments yet but no one has denied anything either so that’s good 😛



    Koke has never been and never will be a RB (right back) He is a midfielder, pure and simple, he can play as an offensive mid or as a defensive mid, he can play both, and I concur with TY GAMBO, Koke is the future captain, and he will take over Gabi’s position sooner or later

  • starvs

    No clue what I’m referring to, certainly not when he started as RB for Spain a few weeks ago.

  • kris

    Nacho, like Starvs sarcastically commented, Koke was started as a right back for Espana, I think against Finland. I have to admit, he didn’t really put out an outstanding performance; as he was not expected to, but the kid can play at the position if needed. He can defend pretty well now compared to before, and if he is put in the middle he will give us that deep play-making, and give us our well needed defense at times as he is has turned in to a good tackler now. I love the fact that now we have many options for a lot of positions, except for maybe we need one more winger and a creative-mid. I think we have quite a few options in our canteranos who will be willing to put on a great performance when needed, but like many comments here have stated that we need a strong bench like other team, I think we can buy, but if we don’t buy we are still a team who will win every single game we play.


    so you are telling me that because KOKE played one game with Spain, not even with atletico, as an RB, makes him by default an RB? i dont think so pal, he’s still a midfielder, look at his file

  • palc

    Koke can play as a goalkeeper because he can defend well now.

  • I don’t see how it’s not clear by now Koke is a LB…

  • Lubo

    Actually, Koke is a natural born referee..

  • Ursa Major

    I’ve seen him put on a nice show on the bench every now and then, too.
    Blows my minds!

  • starvs

    What the fuck are you talking about Nacho, I meant that Koke is the best running back in the league; the way he is breaking arm tackles and exploding to the outside, it’s ridiculous. Ya’ll are trippin.

  • marcelo

    MARCA got in contact with the player, who politely declined to comment: “I’d prefer not to talk on the matter right now. I hope you understand, thank you,” were his exact words.


  • starvs

    Strange, seems like if there was absolutely nothing to it he would say that…

    Obviously, consider the source of course….

  • Benja

    Nope thank you, if it is not broke, don’t change it.

    Oliver will be twice the player.

    Would be a waste


    @ Stars
    for some reason you deviated the conversation to american football?
    I raised my case

  • colchonero in sf

    Guys please chill. Its an atleti forum so we must respect the intl flavor and miscommunication that comes with that.

    Koke for xavi is actually true through and through.!!!

  • kris

    Benja, I agree with you. Oliver will be twice the player in the future. Koke for Xavi is already happening. We will see Koke playing full matches in the upcoming World Cup in place of Xavi. He is going to make all Colchoneros proud. Just watch.

  • marcelo

    If recent reports are to be believed then Diego has agreed to take a paycut again. Hope now we can negotiate with Wolfsburg and finalize this.

  • Bill Bates

    I would gladly welcome back Diego! As many of you said already he did work his buttocks off for us last time he was here and I do not doubt for a second he would once again. And honestly, if that would result in the possibility that we could rest him, Koke, Arda or Villa every third or fourth game then that would be perfect. No one can play every game (except maybe Filipe or “the beast”) and I think a player of his calibre would lift the quality of the team enormously.

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