A club statement thanked both players for their contributions in recent seasons before confirming former Real Madrid full-back Diogo and former Valencia midfielder Lopez would not continue with Zaragoza in 2011-12.
Both departures come as a surprise and in light of turning down President Agapito Iglesias’ offer of new deals on reduced wages. Diogo was thought close to an agreement, accepting halving his annual salary to €900,000, with the only sticking point – now cited as having broken the deal – being the release clause.
The player’s agent Paco Casal asked for a release clause figure similar to his client’s new wages, but Iglesias pushed for at least €2m, before ending negotiations this week. Coach Javier Aguirre had already stressed the importance of Diogo in the team, and is now left with minimal options on the right side of the team.
Lopez’ departure is less significant on the playing side, with the midfielder who played a key part in the club’s 2008/09 promotion now thought more useful for the continuity and experience he offered the dressing room. The player was asked to halve his earnings to €1m for a one-year extension, but tabled a demand for a two-year deal on improved wages, before again seeing Iglesias refuse to budge. The player is likely to follow a number of his agent Manuel Garcia Quilon’s other clients to newly-promoted Granada.
With debts of €110m and having entered administration in June, Zaragoza has seen an exodus of playing staff, with Iglesias’ attempts to bring the finances under control including a failed re-negotiation of the option price for on-loan Nicolas Bertolo, and the introduction of a clearly rigid €1m salary cap to the squad.
The Aragonese have seen 11 players depart the club this summer so far, with Jiri Jarosik and Said Boutahar expected to follow in light of their negotiations on contract renewals also stalling. Italian centre-back Maurizio Lanzaro is to date the only player to have agreed a new deal since the end of the season.
Despite their financial struggles, the club have remained active in the transfer market, signing Edu Oriol and Abraham Minero from Barcelona’s B team and Juan Carlos and David Mateos from the Real Madrid Castilla side, whilst also now close to finalising a deal for Barca’s Jonathan dos Santos.