Liverpool target Diego happy at Wolfsburg

Two-time Copa America winner Diego of Brazil and Wolfsburg recently appeared on The South American Football Show in association with The Independent. Diego lifted the lid on his relationship with ex-Wolfsburg gaffer Steve McClaren, reacted to interest from Liverpool and gave his views on the upcoming Copa America...
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Steve McClaren was sacked as your head coach at Wolfsburg last month, do you think the club made the right call?

I think Steve was a great coach, he is a great coach. The trouble was that the combination was not working here at Wolfsburg. We as players also have our responsibility for that. Now the club has moved on and I wish Steve all the best for his career because he is a very nice guy. The important thing for us to do now as a team is look forward. We need to keep working hard to produce performances on the pitch.

Steve McClaren was criticized during his time in charge of England for failing to get the best out of the talented players at his disposal. Do you think this is what happened at Wolfsburg?

Steve tried to do his best with the great team he had in his hands at Wolfsburg but the players must also take responsibility for the results as well. The team was working hard for Steve and personally I tried my best but this was not enough to get the results we needed. I don’t think the poor run of results was because of anything specific or because or any single individual.

Among your many fans all over the world is Liverpool Football Club’s Director of Football Strategy Damien Comolli. Comolli seems very keen to bring you to Liverpool, is that a move that would interest you?

The English Premier League is fantastic and Liverpool is one of the biggest clubs in the world so of course it’s a pleasure for me to hear things like that. However, I’m very happy at this moment to be here in Wolfsburg. I have a good contract and I feel very happy as a player. I feel comfortable here and I’m being given the confidence to play. The respect is there between the fans and me so everything is in place to turn things around here. I have too much respect for Wolfsburg as a club to let anything distract me at the moment. We have some very important games coming up and I’ll be doing everything I can to help the team win. At the end of the season maybe things will change but right now I’m 100 per cent concentrated on playing for Wolfsburg.

What is your opinion of the football that is played in England, do you think your style would suit the Premier League?

I’m still the number 10, I say still the number 10 because in modern football I don’t think it’s very easy to find players who play this position. I try to organise the play for the team and also do my best to stay close to the strikers as well as get amongst the goals myself. I always try to be an important part of the offensive system of the teams I play in. I don’t mind too much if that means scoring goals myself or creating assists for others.

I think in the English Premier League you have to be very strong, both mentally and physically. There is not much time to think because there is so little space on the pitch. The English Premier League is a great championship with lots of great teams and great players. The challenge is to be very quick and also very strong because your opponents are always close to you. I think this is the main difference between the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga.

You first broke through with Santos in Brazil as part of great team that featured yourself, Robinho, Elano and Alex. What is your opinion of the current Santos team? Until recently they had Robinho back there, Elano is playing there now and there’s the two young superstars of Neymar and Ganso. How good are these teenagers and what can Santos achieve with this team?

I think Neymar and Ganso are fantastic, they are both special talents for sure. They are both doing a good job developing with Santos. I think they both have a lot more work to do because they are very young but they are already great players and they will only improve in the future. Santos is a great club with great facilities for young players and this is helping them to form a strong team. I’m also happy to see Elano playing well and enjoying his football at Santos, a team that still has a special place in my heart. I’m hoping for a good year for Santos in Brazilian league and also in this current edition of the Copa Libertadores.

You’re still a young player yourself but you have already achieved many things and played with many famous clubs. What can you tell us about the good times with Werder Bremen?

Werder Bremen was perhaps the happiest time during my career as a footballer. I still have so much respect for Werder Bremen and the good job that we did together. As a club they gave me respect and a chance to play in a great team. We enjoyed so many great moments together and it remains the best period I have had in my career.

And what are your memories of the year you spent with Juventus?

More good memories. It was a difficult season for the team but for me it was a great experience. It was a pleasure to play there. Of course things could have turned out better, I tried to do my best but the team struggled to get the results we needed. A team like Juventus needs to be on top or otherwise the situation becomes unacceptable to the fans and that was what happened during my year there. Even though we had a lot of great players the results did not come and that’s why I decided to move. I enjoyed my time in Italy and it was a pleasure to play with a great club like Juventus.

In terms of the Brazilian national team, this year we have the Copa America in Argentina. You have played in the last two Copa America finals for Brazil and helped your country to beat Argentina on both occasions. Do you think you will make the squad and have the opportunity to do the same this year?

I think Argentina has a big chance to win this time but nothing is certain with the Copa America because it’s always such a tough competition. Brazil always brings a strong team and for sure they will have their sights on winning the cup as well. I think it will be between Argentina and Brazil to see who wins this year and maybe Argentina have a slightly better chance because they play at home.

I have not spoken with the Brazilian head coach Mano Menezes since he was appointed to the job last year. I heard that I might be in his plans through reading the newspapers but there has not yet been any direct communication with him. All I can do is try to improve my game, work hard here in Wolfsburg everyday and wait to get my chance with the Brazil team once again in the future.

Diego was speaking to Alejandro Pérez and Tim Sturtridge, hosts of The South American Football Show in association with The Independent. Click here for more details.