Orlando City SC is one step closer to signing Brazilian attacking midfielder Diego Ribas as The Mane Land, which reported the interest on the player last week, has learned the Lions have already secured an agreement in principle with the playmaker for a three-year contract. However, for the transfer to be completed, Diego still needs to convince his current team, Brazilian Serie A Flamengo, to release him before his contract expires in July.
The 33-year-old midfielder has engaged in negotiations with the Brazilian club to extend his current deal for another 18 months during the last week of December, but the discussions have reportedly reached a dead end as Flamengo wants Diego to take a significant pay cut, something the veteran midfielder is not willing to do. According to Brazilian website Extra, the salaries offered by the club in the first round of negotiations were considered unworkable by the player’s staff.
Orlando is not considering the option of paying a transfer fee, which made Diego ask Flamengo to let him go six months before the end of his contract. The player has not been granted an answer yet, but the Lions are expecting Flamengo to disclose their intentions at any moment.
Flamengo has had presidential elections in December and a new front office has just taken over, with President Rodolfo Landim, Vice President of Soccer Marcos Braz, and Head Coach Abel Braga all having just a few days of work with the club so far.
Brazilian media reports indicate that the new front office considers Diego an important piece of the roster, but it’s not inclined to make any financial sacrifices to keep him. With that in mind, a transfer overseas is considered a viable solution for the situation. But at this point, we’re just not sure if Flamengo is willing to let him go before his contract expires without collecting a transfer fee.
We should learn more on Thursday, when Flamengo starts its preseason in Rio de Janeiro. Since he’s under contract, Diego is expect to report, even if negotiations continue for him to leave the club.
Flamengo is also one of the participants in the 2019 edition of the Florida Cup — with games beginning in that tournament a week from Thursday — and will travel to Orlando on Sunday. With both front offices in the same city, an agreement could be reached next week.
We will continue to monitor this story as it develops.