After a painfully slow negotiation process, it has been revealed that Marcos Assunção no longer will be pulling on the Palmeiras jersey. The set piece specialist and team captain’s contract expired on 31 December with negotiations entering into the first week of the new year. In the end, the parties failed to meet on the issue of a rather hefty pay raise asked by the 36-year-old midfielder.
Assunção arrived at Palmeiras in 2010 and played a total of 145 games, scoring 31 times and assisting in an additional 38 efforts. A key player for Palmeiras in 2011 and 2012, he led the team to triumph in the Brazil Cup of last year, embodying the spirit of union, perseverance and dedication.
Palmeiras lose a highly respected professional and a deadly weapon. On the other hand, Assunção’s trailing physique (although much above average considering his age) and less than stellar marking capacities always were the flip side, in certain ways forcing the team to mould itself around Assunção and become dependent on him. With Assunção’s exit, we can expect a pacier and more aggressive Palmeiras midfield.
Without having insider information on the negotiations as such, I’d say Assunção got a bit carried away by the numbers and overestimated his importance, leading him to believe he deserved much more than the monthly US$ 125K he was making, perhaps comparing himself to wet firecracker Valdivia. However, with presidential elections approaching and Palmeiras’ financial difficulties becoming clearer, the club’s Fiscal Council stepped in and dramatically reduced the director’s room for manoeuvre. Assunção – always expressing a wish for ending his career at Palmeiras – apparently wasn’t prepared to retreat, or at least not retreat as much as needed to secure a new, one-year contract. My personal guess is that no other club will match his asking price, nor that Assunção has any genuine drive to start all over at another club. I believe his footballing career has come to an end.
It is worth repeating that Assunção has been a role model and an example both on and off the pitch, always respecting Palmeiras, always representing Palmeiras. For the right price I would have liked to see him one more season in our colours. Then again, perhaps now was the right time to leave, on top, with prestige. In any case, Anything Palmeiras salute a great athlete and a great man, a worthy representative of Sociedade Esportiva Palmeiras. Fare well, Marcos Assunção!
Update: Assunção just held a press conference and – for the first time – gave his side of the story. Clearly unhappy with the situation and in tears during certain moments, he lamented Palmeiras’ decision and regretted that it had come to this. Assunção considers a raise (although apparently smaller than speculated in the media) to be in order due to his dedication and importance for the team (external sources say Assunção and directors agreed on roughly US$ 150K + bonuses) but as we now know, it was all shot down by the Financial Council.
Toward the end, an interesting and touching opening: “I wish to remain. As long as there’s nothing else settled (with any other team, my clarification), I’m open for negotiations, even with Palmeiras. I’m without a job and saying my goodbyes, but the phone can ring and a contract can be signed. Life consists of decisions. We have to work where we are happy and I was happy at Palmeiras.”
— ooo —
We live in times where players think twice before signing with Palmeiras. Having one of last year’s most valued players cry when unable to renew a contract is rather extraordinary. Assunção is not desperate, nor in financial crisis: he genuinely has bonded with Palmeiras and the supporters, wishes to stay and wishes to contribute to the ascension of the club. This has to be very carefully evaluated.