It is very clear that things are not well at Newell’s Old Boys and if the nose-dive in results during the second half of the season, Diego Osella’s resignation, the club’s vice-president being arrested and issues with the barra bravas wasn’t evidence enough, Maxi Rodríguez bidding a tearful goodbye to the team so close to his heart was the clincher.
“Everything that happens here, wears on you mentally,” an emotional Maxi explained at a press conference on Thursday.
“For my health, I have chosen to leave. My family support me but it is a decision that has taken a long time.”
Where the 36-year-old will play next he still didn’t know but did assure supporters that it wouldn’t be in Argentina and that he still intends to retire at the Estadio Marcelo Bielsa.
“In Argentina, I will only ever play for Newell’s. I can’t imagine wearing another shirt. I want to retire here and if nothing unusual happens, I’ll come back.”
A possible move to Major League Soccer (MLS) now looks increasingly likely and while no one could begrudge Maxi a lucrative contract at this stage in his career, the crafty attacking midfield player would still have plenty to offer on the pitch for any side.
Maxi began his career at Newell’s but it was after several years in Europe with Espanyol, Atlético Madrid and Liverpool that his status as a club icon was truly established.
As the symbol of Newell’s over the past five years and his wonderful career for Argentina, Maxi Rodríguez has earned the respect of supporters throughout the country and so there is no better time to look at the top five moments since he pulled the red and black back on in 2012.
1 – The return: July 16th 2012
After penning a letter to Liverpool thanking the Premier League club for his time at Anfield, Maxi returned home and in July 2012 was presented in front of supporters by then president Guillermo Lorente.
Out on the pitch at El Coloso, the local hero said, “It is the happiest day of my life, to return to my house where they give me so much affection.”
2 – Key goal in title: April 28th 2013
Fighting for the title under Tata Martino in the 2013 Torneo Final, Newell’s were being held to a 3-3 draw against Racing in Rosario but as the match crept into stoppage time, Nacho Scocco found Maxi and the veteran made no mistake in clinching all three points.
Two goalless draws against Boca Juniors at the quarter final stage of the Copa Libertadores produced a dramatic penalty shootout in Rosario and with the scores at 9-9, Maxi stepped up. Having already scored his first, he held his nerve to slam the ball past Agustin Orion and send La Lepra into the semi finals.
4 – The title: July 19, 2013
Lanús’ failure to win in midweek had handed Newell’s the title but that weekend in Rosario, Newell’s celebrated. Maxi has been the figurehead of Tata Martino’s side and were more than worthy Primera champions. It was the club’s sixth top flight title and the one and only that Maxi lifted.
5 – A classic clásico: October 23rd 2016
For a player who has done some of things Maxi Rodriguez has, for him to single this out as the greatest moment in his career speaks volumes. Rosario Central had dominated one of Argentine football’s most fierce derbies in recent years but last season a dramatic injury time winner sealed victory for Newell’s.
Deep in stoppage time at Central’s raucous Gigante de Arroyito ground, Maxi drilled a low shot into the far corner to nick all three points and more importantly city bragging rights.
The original top five was compiled by Rosario news site, Rosario3 and can be viewed here