VfB Stuttgart sporting director Michael Reschke (r.) has long been an admirer of Pablo Maffeo (l.). - © © imago
VfB Stuttgart sporting director Michael Reschke (r.) has long been an admirer of Pablo Maffeo (l.). - © © imago

"Pep Guardiola told me to move to the Bundesliga" – new VfB Stuttgart defender Pablo Maffeo

New player is presented to the press. New player answers a few questions. New player disappears behind the scenes. There's not usually anything out of the ordinary about official unveilings, unless you happen to be Pablo Maffeo.

After revealing that is was former Bayern Munich head coach Pep Guardiola who persuaded him to resist offers from elsewhere in the English Premier League and instead leave Manchester City for VfB Stuttgart, the 21-year-old defender could have been forgiven for thinking he was being propositioned.

- © imago

"Would you mind?" asked a female reporter - tongue in cheek, tape measure in hand. A knowing Maffeo obliged.

Maffeo had only been in Stuttgart a matter of days, but Die Schwaben's record signing was already the talk of the town. One photo in particular, of the Spanish right-back winding up to strike a ball on the VfB training pitch, had gone viral.

"Have you seen this guy's calves?", "What a beast!", "They're huge!"

A calf-raising circumference of 39 centimetres, no less.

*Translation: Welcome to our front room!

Many expected that future to play out in the sky blue of Man City, but with experienced campaigners Danilo and Kyle Walker for competition at right-back and Maffeo entering the final year of his contract, Stuttgart made their move. Three-time Bundesliga-winning coach Guardiola was integral to the process.

"Pep Guardiola spoke highly of the Bundesliga, and those in charge at Stuttgart went to great lengths to persuade me," Maffeo said, after putting pen to paper on a five-year deal. "I watched tapes of their home games, and I was impressed by the atmosphere in the stadium. I want to do my bit to help the club continue their positive development."

Maffeo certainly has all the necessary tools to succeed and, in Reschke's words, "will play an important role in the upcoming season." Whether that's alongside or in front of 2018 FIFA World Cup finalist Benjamin Pavard - an ever-present in the Stuttgart defence in 2017/18 - remains to be seen. Either way, be prepared for weekly bouts of calf envy.

Chris Mayer-Lodge

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