Wolfsburg - It was hardly the news VfL Wolfsburg wanted approaching 23:00 CET on a Friday night, especially on the final day of the winter transfer window.

Brazilian playmaker Diego had reached an agreement with current Spanish league leaders Club Atletico de Madrid - his transfer back to Spain was signed, sealed and delivered just before the window slammed shut.

Rising star Arnold


With a tinge of regret, the Wolves bid him farewell and turned the page - a memorable one for both the club and the player. With 24 goals and 23 assists during his two-and-a-half year stint Wolfsburg, Diego leaves an indelible memory. "In the end, we agreed to it, even if we would've liked to have carried on working together until the summer at least," said sporting director Klaus Allofs.

No wonder, given much of the Wolves' game revolved around Diego. The emergence of Maximilian Arnold in the first half of the season perhaps took him out of the spotlight a little, but he was still pulling the strings. In fact, Arnold's rise maybe made things even easier for the Brazilian as opposition defences now had a new man to keep a close eye on, freeing up room for Diego to do what he did best.

'Certainly not weaker'


Many see Arnold as the man to inherit Diego's pedestal, though that is a lot to ask of a 19-year-old who became the club's youngest ever debutant in November 2011. The Germany Under-21 midfielder certainly seems to be taking things in his stride. "I don't get big-headed when something is said or written about me," he told the Wolfsburger Nachrichten. "I have nothing to prove to anybody but myself - and the coach too, of course."

With Arnold in the team, Diego had moved further out to the left. Without the Brazilian, that role is now taken by winter signing Kevin De Bruyne. "With De Bruyne's arrival, we've got a super player and we're certainly not any weaker," said striker Ivica Olic. However, with the 22-year-old Belgian, it will be a case of moving a little further inside the wide berth he occupied for SV Werder Bremen last season.

Getting to know De Bruyne


"We've got to bring Kevin a little closer to the central support man position," coach Hecking said in the Wolfsburger Allgemeine. "Diego knew all about our style of play but Kevin can't know it yet. We need to show his team-mates what kind of a player he is."

Once that is achieved, the regret in losing Diego may well be attenuated by the excitement at seeing Arnold and De Bruyne leading the club forward with European football still the objective.


Relive Diego's five greatest strikes in Germany's top flight courtesy of the Bundesliga's official YouTube channel: