They say that all good things must come to an end, and sadly for supporters of Borussia Mönchengladbach that has come to pass with the news that fan favourite Raffael will not have his contract extended and will leave the club at the end of the season.
The 35-year-old Brazilian has only had a fleeting role with the Foals this season and after seven years at the Borussia Park, in which he made 200 appearances, the club have decided not to keep him on.
“It was a purely professional decision we made for the squad” sporting director Max Eberl explained. “Raffael is a huge part of our history and he’s been such a pillar for the club during his time here. After all his service to the club, it’s only fair to be honest about his potential playing time in the squad. “We explained this point to him, and we had a lot of positive discussions, now we’re parting ways with a great mutual respect for one another.
“Raffael has done so well here in Mönchengladbach and for the last seven years we’ve had an amazing player in our ranks. I hope that when he returns to the stadium as a supporter, the fans will give him the proper send-off he deserves.”
You would be hard pushed to find a single Gladbach fan, who doesn’t agree that ‘a proper send-off’ is what he richly deserves.
Raffael Caetano de Araújo joined the club in 2013 after spending the previous season on loan at Schalke from his then club Dynamo Kiev. He had previously impressed in the Bundesliga with Hertha Berlin, who he left when they were relegated in 2012.
The forward nicknamed ‘the Maestro’ hit double figures for goals scored in his first three seasons with the club and inspired them to two Champions League participations. The fans at the Borussia Park loved his skill and flair, his high-tempo dribbling, his ability to beat a defender one-on-one and his uncanny ability to find the killer pass for a team-mate.
Perhaps he best season for Gladbach came in 2015-16 when he scored 15 goals in all competitions and added 12 assists (he was involved in 38% of all the team’s goals that year). This season he has been limited to just seven substitute appearances totalling just 63 minutes. Adductor problems, a foot injury and the fact that younger players Breel Embolo, Markus Thuram and Alassane Plea occupy the forward line has severely restricted his game time meaning the writing was on the wall.
This may be the end of his Fohlen chapter, but the player believes there is life in the old bones yet. “I don’t know what I will do yet” he told RP. “I will take my time in peace; I’m not stressed at all. I have already said that I would like to stay in Germany, preferably here in the area. My family and I feel very comfortable. But I also want to play soccer for a year or two.”
As fate would have it, Borussia Mönchengladbach face Raffael’s former club Hertha Berlin in their final Bundesliga match of the season this weekend. Could we see one last glimpse of the Maestro?