Diego Maradona’s tenure at Fujairah seems to be definitively over after the club announced they had ended negotiations with the Argentine regarding a return to the club, claiming he was asking for four times his original salary.
Maradona, 57, has been at the centre of an incredible few days at the east-coast side following their failure last Friday to seal automatic promotion to the Arabian Gulf League.
The former World Cup winner left his position hours as manager after Fujairah's final fixture of the 2017/18 First Division season, the 1-1 draw with Khorfakkan, but then appeared to be reinstated on Monday when the club announced his shock return. However, Maradona's lawyer later rejected the news.
The two parties have since been locked in talks to attempt to find a resolution. That looks to have finally come to a head on Thursday, though, with Fujairah declaring on social media that the deal for a new contract was dead – despite Maradona reportedly agreeing to continue.
"After guidance from the club president, negotiations had begun with Maradona to renew his contract," the statement read. "He indicated his agreement to renew the contract under the same rules as his current contract. He promised that he would come to training the following day and sign the contract, as confirmed by voice notes he sent to players.
"A few hours later, his lawyer stopped negotiations and asked for his contract to be quadrupled and requested that no one contact him, even through a special translator. So we announce that negotiations have ceased with Maradona and we wish him the best."
It marks the conclusion to a manic week at Fujairah, and leaves the club searching for a new manager to guide the team through next week’s play-off to reach the Arabian Gulf League. Fujairah take on Hatta, the 2017/18 Arabian Gulf League’s bottom club, next Wednesday in the first match of their two-legged encounter. The winner earns the right to play next season in the UAE top flight.
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No doubt, the uncertainly surrounding Maradona’s future has represented an unwanted distraction. Fujairah announced in the aftermath of the Khorfakkan clash last Friday that they had parted company with their manager. Later, Maradona’s lawyer, Matias Morla, confirmed the news, saying the decision had been made by “mutual agreement”.
However, on Monday Fujairah made the surprise announcement that Maradona had returned and signed a one-year contract. Yet Morla then tweeted that no deal had been struck.
Appointed amid much fanfare last May, Maradona was tasked with leading Fujairah back into the Arabian Gulf League following the club’s two-season absence. The Argentine World Cup winner, considered one of the greatest footballers of all time, was given a one-year contract, although there was an option to extend should Fujairah be promoted.
Speaking recently, Maradona acknowledged his fate was largely dependent on taking the team back into the top division.
Before Fujairah, he had last managed Al Wasl, spending 14 months at the Dubai club between May 2011 and July 2012. Prior to that, Maradona had unsuccessful spells at Argentina’s Mandiyu de Corrientes and Racing Club in the mid-1990s, while he steered his national team to the quarter-finals of the 2010 World Cup.