The latest twist in Argentina legend Diego Maradona’s unpredictable post-playing career has taken him to Belarus after he surprisingly signed on as chairman of ambitious Dynamo Brest.
Maradona, 57, had most recently been employed by Fujairah in the UAE’s First Division League following five years away from coaching. On April 27, he parted ways within hours of his failure to gain automatic promotion to the Arabian Gulf League with his undefeated side – only for a club announcement about a shock one-year renewal three days later to be instantly rubbished.
This latest posting has taken him to the eighth-placed outfit in the 2018 Belarusian Premier League. A three-year contract has been inked, granting the joint FIFA Player of the 20th Century wide-ranging powers.
“Yes, Diego is with us,” Brest tweeted. “Legendary football player Diego Armando Maradona signed a three-year contract with the football club, Dynamo Brest, and took office as chairman of the club’s board.
“Diego Maradona will be engaged in issues of strategic development of the club, as well as interacting with all its structural units – including the children’s academy.
“Maradona will begin his role after the end of the World Cup in Russia.
“In Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi will be held a press conference with the participation of Diego Maradona and representatives of the club. The date of the press conference will be announced shortly.”
The ex-Boca Juniors, Barcelona and Napoli icon was excited about this latest challenge.
“I am president of the club, Dynamo Brest,” he posted on Instagram. “Thanks for the trust and for thinking of me.”
⚡ ДА, ДИЕГО С НАМИ! ⚡ #fcdb1960— FC Dynamo Brest (@dynamobrest) May 15, 2018
Легендарный футболист Диего Армандо Марадона подписал трехлетний контракт с футбольным клубом "Динамо-Брест" и вступил в должность Председателя правления клуба. pic.twitter.com/H9WG8AfpBg
Brest are a club on the up, determined to break BATE Borisov’s grip on the domestic game.
They claimed the Belarusian Cup in 2017 and added the 2018 Belarusian Super Cup with a 2-1 triumph against BATE in March.
Reverberations were felt across the globe late on Tuesday to match those caused when Maradona agreed to end his half-decade exile from the dugout and lead the ambitious Wolves for 2017/18.
But profligacy in front of goal saw a draining 11 draws registered. Their final-day stalemate caused them to be critically knocked into third place by Ittihad Kalba.
In his absence, replacement Dr Abdullah Mesfer defeated the AGL’s bottom-placed side, Hatta, 3-1 on aggregate in the promotion play-offs and earned a top-flight return for the first time since 2015/16.
Al Wasl had previously sacked Maradona in July 2012, halfway through a two-year deal. This followed a trophyless 2011/12.
Prior to this, his contract had not been renewed by Argentina in the wake of a 4-0 quarter-final thrashing by Germany at World Cup 2010.
If anything shows the value of a goalkeeper, it’s the improvement of Manchester City’s defence, to title-winning standards, after bringing in Ederson in the summer. But the Brazilian, outstanding though he was, wasn’t even the best keeper in his city.
That’s because David de Gea plays in Manchester. For all Manchester United‘s improvement this season, they wouldn’t be in second place if not for the superlative displays of their No 1. It’s an indictment of the squad that arguably their only world-class player, is their goalkeeper, but United are just happy he’s there.
The Spaniard deservedly sits atop our rankings for the best goalkeepers across Europe’s top five leagues – here’s the full top ten.
1. David de Gea, Manchester United
Every time you think de Gea can’t get better, he defies you. He’d cemented his status as the Premier League‘s best already, and he’s finally won his first Golden Glove.
2. Ederson, Manchester City
Remember how Manchester City had goalkeeping issues last season? In his first season in England, Ederson solved that problem with aplomb.
3. Gianluigi Buffon, Juventus
At this point, everything that can be said about Buffon has already been said. If this truly is his last season, winning Serie A‘s Player of the Year award is a fitting way to sign off.
4. Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Barcelona
5. Jan Oblak, Atlético Madrid
Oblak’s already burgeoning reputation grew even bigger this season, with some stunning displays in the Atlético Madrid goal.
6. Alisson, Roma
The Roma man has been the find of the season among goalkeepers. It’s no surprise that he’s being linked with a move to some of Europe’s biggest names.
7. Keylor Navas, Real Madrid
Navas hurts himself sometimes with high-profile gaffes, but there’s no telling how bad Madrid’s disappointing season could have been without his presence.
8. Samir Handanovic, Inter Milan
As always, Handanovic pulled off some stunning saves, and he’s a big part of why Inter Milan have one of the best defences in Italy this season.
9. Nick Pope, Burnley
Nick Pope himself will probably be surprised to find himself among the top 10 keepers in Europe. That’s how good he’s been since being thrust into the starting keeper role at Burnley by Tom Heaton’s injury.
10. Neto, Valencia
All that time serving as Buffon’s understudy has served the Brazilian in good stead. Valencia haven’t missed Diego Alves, which is high praise.
Jordi Alba has always been one of the world’s best full-backs. His attacking flair and eye for a pass are exactly what’s required in the modern definition of the position, and he can hold his own defensively.
But who could have predicted this good a season? Barcelona‘s attack was depleted at the beginning of the campaign; in stepped Alba to fill the void. He seemed to have a telepathic connection with Lionel Messi, a relationship that underpinned the team’s attack.
The Spaniard duly tops our full-back rankings – here’s the full top ten from Europe’s top five leagues.
1. Jordi Alba, Barcelona
Barcelona needed to replace Neymar once the playmaker bolted for PSG. Who knew that it would be their left-back to take up the mantle? Alba to Messi was the most lethal combination in Spain, and key to La Blaugrana’s success.
2. Marcelo, Real Madrid
The Champions League semi-final first leg against Bayern Munich summed Marcelo up: at fault for the Bavarians’ opener, but scored the equaliser. That’s the trade-off, and it’s one Madrid will take gladly.
3. Joshua Kimmich, Bayern Munich
It was Kimmich who scored that goal for Bayern, and he added another in the second leg. The young German has emerged as one of the best in his position this season.
4. Kyle Walker, Manchester City
5. David Alaba, Bayern Munich
It’s credit to Kimmich that Alaba may not even be considered Bayern Munich’s best full-back at the moment. That being said, the Austrian is still an outstanding left-back, capable of switching from defence to attack with aplomb.
6. Filipe Luis, Atlético Madrid
The 32-year-old continues to show why Diego Simeone has placed so much faith in him, as his nous and work-rate helped Atlético maintain their traditional defensive fire. His recovery from a broken fibula in just two months was remarkable.
7. Aleksandar Kolarov, Roma
Given a new lease of life after being discarded by Manchester City, Kolarov fitted in seamlessly at Roma, providing buckets of experience to the back line. He also remains a formidable attacking force.
8. Marcos Alonso, Chelsea
One of the few bright sparks in a Chelsea season where Antonio Conte’s famed defence largely regressed. Alonso’s goal threat and his tenacity make him the Blues’ second-best player this season after Eden Hazard.
9. Philipp Max, Augsburg
The Augsburg left-back has 12 league assists season – as many as Lionel Messi. It’s easily the record for most assists by a defender in the Bundesliga; it’s a number many attacking players would dream to have.
10. Antonio Barragán, Real Betis
Real Betis are the surprise package in La Liga this season, having secured a Europa League spot, and their on-loan right back is a big reason why. No one would have expected this when Middlesbrough let Barragán go in the summer.