Orlando City SC could be done pursuing one of its main transfer targets, midfielder Diego Ribas, multiple reports in the Brazilian media indicate. The 33-year-old veteran is currently in Orlando, where he played for Brazilian Serie A giants Flamengo in the Florida Cup, but it looks like he will return to Rio de Janeiro.
According to Yahoo Esportes journalist Jorge Nicola, the Lions have withdrawn their three-year offer to the midfielder. As The Mane Land first reported, Diego had agreed to Orlando’s offer, but he still wanted to keep negotiating an extension with Flamengo, with which he’s under contract until the summer.
According to an unnamed Orlando City executive who spoke with Nicola, Orlando decided to step back from a possible negotiation because Diego seemed uninterested in pushing Flamengo to end his contract, a condition the Lions deemed necessary for the deal to be completed. Additionally, the midfielder informed the Lions that other Brazilian clubs reached out to him recently.
“We’re done waiting,” the executive said. “Our offer is off the table because we cannot wait and we will not get into a bidding war. You can’t think twice about an offer that involves a life project like the one we did.”
According to the report, the Lions would still consider resuming negotiations, but only if Diego completely changed his behavior and showed interest in playing in Orlando. One source close to the situation confirmed to The Mane Land that there is pessimism from the club about the outcome of the negotiations with the Brazilian, but wouldn’t rule his signing completely out. The source said the Brazilian “was the only piece missing” for the team.
After Flamengo’s first game in Florida Cup, on Thursday against Dutch side Ajax, Diego was asked about a potential transfer to Orlando, but gave a vague answer.
“Regardless of what happens I’ll always respect Flamengo,” he said. “I would never make a decision and not communicate with the club. But the offers are here and I’ve been honest about it since the end of last season. I started negotiating with Flamengo a few days ago and I hope it gets resolved at the right moment. We’ll see.”
Diego, who captained Flamengo against Ajax, could have his starting spot at risk with his current team, as the club recently spent nearly $18 million to sign Uruguayan attacking midfielder Giorgio De Arrascaeta from Brazilian rivals Cruzeiro.
However, it seems that a conversation with recently-appointed head coach Abel Braga could have changed the midfielder’s heart about making a move to Major League Soccer.
“I can’t speak about his future, he’s a professional,” Braga said after the game against Ajax. “It seems to me that our offer involves more money and more time. We had a conversation in which my admiration for him got higher, so we’ll see.”