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Diego Ribas da Cunha

Brazil schemer Diego Ribas da Cunha back in Germany with Wolfsburg


Diego Ribas da Cunha
Getty Images
Midfielder Diego Ribas da Cunha demonstrated his subtle skills with Werder Bremen for three seasons and his consistency persuaded Juventus to part with around US$31 million for the playmaker in May 2009.

Despite being compared to past masters Michel Platini and Zinedine Zidane in the Italian media on his arrival, he returned to Germany a season later with Wolfsburg, having failed to hit the heights in Serie A.

He subsequently disappointed in the Bundesliga and is currently on loan with Atletico Madrid.

Quick Facts:

  • Name: Diego Ribas da Cunha
  • Nationality: Brazilian
  • Date and Place of Birth: February 28, 1985 in Ribeirao Preto, Brazil
  • Position: Midfielder
  • Current Club: Wolfsburg (Bundesliga)
  • Previous Clubs: Santos (2002-2004), Porto (2004-2006), Werder Bremen (2006-2009), Juventus (2009-2010)
  • International Career: 2003 to present

Early Life:

A 6-year-old Diego started to show his talent when training with Comercial FC, in Ribeirao Preto. After joining another team, São Carlos, when he was 9, Diego decided to take trials in the hope of impressing a bigger club. Santos took him and he started to train in the junior categories at 12.

The Santos Years:

Diego was promoted to the Santos first team as a 16-year-old and won the Brazilian championship in his first season. He played alongside Robinho and both were rightly tipped for huge futures in the game.

A Move to Porto:

Like many South Americans who impress in their domestic leagues, Diego was transferred to Europe at a young age (18), but found life difficult at Portuguese giants Porto. He was seen as the successor to Deco, who had left defected to Barcelona, but could not produce the same caliber of performances he did at Santos.

He nonetheless scored seven goals in two seasons, helping the club to the league title in 2006. But after failing to hold down a regular place in the team that season, Werder Bremen swooped for his signature.

Success at Werder Bremen:

A US$7.6 million move to the Bundesliga revitalized the Brazilian, and he hit his stride immediately, scoring on his debut and setting up two other goals in a 4-2 win against Hannover 96. Further good performances in August 2006 earned him the Player of the Month award. He won the prize two more times that campaign and walked away with the Player of the Season award.

Diego carried on producing swashbuckling performances in his advanced midfield role, with the 2008-09 season his most successful. A haul of 20 goals and a German Cup triumph had the fans and media purring over his talents. His assist for Mesut Ozil's goal in that German Cup final was his last meaningful contribution in a Bremen shirt as 38 league goals in three seasons earned him a move to Juventus.

Toil in Turin and Wolfsburg:

Diego failed to reach the level he had at Werder Bremen, with Juve experiencing one of their worst seasons in years. He did score five goals and set up seven others in Serie A, but the Juve tifosi were not treated to the swaggering displays he produced during his time in Bremen. Injuries, a formation that did not suit him, and a fall-out with then coach Ciro Ferrara were also detrimental, with Juve selling him at a loss (US$19.7 million) the following summer.

Despite finding himself in the familiar confines of the Bundesliga and scoring on his debut against Mainz, Diego could not rediscover his old form. That, coupled with a falling out with the management, meant he had little future and was shipped out on loan to Atletico Madrid at the end of the August 2011 transfer window.

Brazil Career:

Diego is unfortunate that he has a player of Kaka's considerable talents ahead of him in the national team. The pair both operate in the playmaker role and the Real Madrid star's continued brilliance means he is the first-choice for Brazil, often leaving Diego benched.

But Diego has still had opportunities to shine for the Selecao, and was a key player as Brazil won the 2004 Copa America. He also helped his country to a Bronze medal in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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