The German game can welcome one of its top stars of recent years back into the fold. Following difficult and protracted negotiations, VfL Wolfsburg were able to successfully complete the signing of Diego from Juventus Turin. After a year in Serie A, the 25-year-old Brazilian midfielder has put pen to paper on a four-year deal with the 2008-09 league champions.
“I’m glad to be back in the Bundesliga. Thank you”, the master of close control said in German at his official unveiling in Wolfsburg. As to what lies ahead at his new club, he believes that, “This will be the year of victories, where we can achieve great things and qualify for Europe.” Last season Wolfsburg did neither, finishing a disappointing eighth in the table.
Straight away on his debut, Diego gave the Wolves fans a taste of the old magic, putting his side 3-0 up against Mainz with a cool finish. The guests spoiled the party by battling back to win 4-3, but that notwithstanding, the return of the Brazilian playmaker is another feather in the cap of the German top flight. In 84 league games for Werder Bremen between 2006 and 2009, he scored 38 goals and laid on a further 32. His 2007 Goal of the Year against Alemannia Aachen from more than 62 metres out has entered the annals of Bundesliga history.
“The Bundesliga is one of the best leagues there is and I hope my return helps to underline that, and that I can give the fans as much enjoyment as was the case at Werder”, Diego said. His former coach in Bremen, Thomas Schaaf, expressed similar sentiments, albeit with one qualification: “I just hope he’s not on top form in games against Werder.”
Underscoring his personal commitment to Wolfsburg, Diego has reserved his own box in the Volkswagen Arena for the season. Sporting director Dieter Hoeneß is at any rate clearly proud of the club’s latest high-profile acquisition: “We worked hard to bring Diego here. It’s something for the Bundesliga as a whole to look forward to.” The VfL powerbroker sealed the deal with Juventus following weeks of cliff-hanging talks, adding the gifted midfielder to a string of high-quality summer signings: Danish international central defender Simon Kjaer, Croatian attacking talent Mario Mandzukic, Swiss prospect Nassim Ben Khalifa and Germany’s stand-out defender at the World Cup, Arne Friedrich. Unfortunately, the former Hertha BSC skipper is sidelined for the next three months or so following surgery for a slipped disc.