Four years at VfL Wolfsburg came to an end for Luis Gustavo on Tuesday, after he opted for a move to the south of France over Italy. The Brazilian signed for Olympique Marseille, signing a contract until 2021. However, the 29-year-old may already be past his use by date.
It’s quite clear to see that Gustavo hasn’t enjoyed his best football to date. Perhaps that could be down to the fact Wolfsburg battled against relegation for the majority of last season of which they escaped by a whisker – beating Eintracht Braunschweig in their relegation play-off.
The past 18 months has seen the Brazilian turn in lacklustre performances whilst being extremely ill-disciplined. His eight red cards in the Bundesliga is the joint-highest in the league, alongside Jens Nowotny.
It probably didn’t help that Wolfsburg’s hierarchy sacked long-term head coach Dieter Hecking in October 2016 after almost four years in charge after the German made them a stable, Europa League challenging club.
Frenchman Valérien Ismaël was appointed and ultimately failed as Wolfsburg dropped to new lows, before Andries Jonker was appointed head coach in February ‘17. After four years at Wolfsburg, Gustavo felt as though it’s time to move on, and at this stage in his career, it’s hard not to blame him as he looks for new pastures outside of Germany.
For the calibre of player the 29-year-old is, Wolfsburg have done well to keep hold of him so long. When it comes down to it, Wolfsburg is an extremely hard place to persuade players to come/stay at the club. Located in the Lower Saxony (northern Germany), Wolfsburg is a working class city, predominantly Volkswagen employees.
In recent seasons we’ve seen Kevin de Bruyne return to Chelsea, Julian Draxler depart for France and Wolfsburg miss out on Romelu Lukaku and Álvaro Morata. The money is there, but unfortunately the picturesque surroundings are not.
And so on paper, it looks as though signing Gustavo may be a good move for both parties. For the rumoured €8m fee, Marseille are getting a player who has won seven major trophies within a four-year spell. The most noticeable of those being a part of the squad that won the quadruple – Bundesliga, Champions League, DFB Pokal and the German Super Cup – with Bayern Munich in their 2012/13 campaign.
Defensively, only Mats Hummels (1186) has more tackles and interceptions that Luis Gustavo (1157) in the Bundesliga since August 2009 (via Whoscored) which made the Brazilian one of the most fearless, efficient ball-winning players in Germany.
Like Julian Draxler, perhaps Gustavo can now kick on in his career. The Germany international stagnated towards the end of his Wolfsburg career after he became increasingly unhappy, which resulted in a move to Paris Saint-Germain. Since his switch, the 23-year-old has become an established player in Joachim Löw’s Germany side, captaining the winning Confederations Cup side.
Perhaps a switch to southern France for Gustavo will see him recreate his previous form. The talent is still there in Gustavo, which is why both the Milan clubs were chasing his signature and so Marseille have secured quite a coup.
There’s no doubting that the Ligue 1 club has struggled of late. Let’s hope that Gustavo can play a key role in Rudi García’s Marseille as they look to challenge for a place in Europe once again.