A brave new world?

On his way back to the Monumental?

Reconciliation could be in the air in Núñez. Following Daniel Passarella’s resignation from the manager’s role at River Plate, numerous names have been thrown into the hat. Américo Gallego was an early favourite, before it emerged that River’s playing legend (and perhaps, before too long, president), the Uruguayan ex-number 10 Enzo Francescoli, had ruled himself out of the running. Until Monday night, Estudiantes boss Diego Simeone was thought to be the favourite.

But this may be the first website in the Anglophone world to be able to report that late on Monday evening (Argentine time), the River directorship confirmed that they’d made an official approach to San Lorenzo to take legend Ramón Díaz off their hands. It’s a little bit of a shock for a couple of reasons.

The first is that Díaz – the most successful manager in River Plate’s history, with five league titles and two continental trophies – left River a few years ago in not exactly the most friendly of circumstances, after a major falling out with José María Aguilar – who’s still the president of the club today, albeit possibly not for much longer. Since returning to San Lorenzo in January, Díaz, never short of a word or two for the press, spent no little time winding Passarella up, and won the championship with a team who’d been useless in the 2006 Apertura to boot. Funny how success can heal old rifts.

The second reason it’s a surprising move is that Díaz is in talks with San Lorenzo to extend his contract beyond its current duration – the end of this year – and just yesterday San Lorenzo president Rafael Savino was insisting that he was all but certain El Pelado would sign an extension. Aguilar has approached Savino directly about the possibility of opening negotiations with Díaz, according to fellow River director Héctor Caballero in a TV interview this evening.

Other names mentioned in the statement River released to the press outlining possible targets were Diego Simeone, Leonardo Astrada and Claudio Borghi. It looks very much like Díaz is first choice, though. Will this lead to a reconciliation with the president? Or is Aguilar acknowledging that his own days at the head of River are numbered, and doing what he can to be remembered kindly by the fans when they replace him in next year’s elections?

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