Diego Valeri is staying home.
The midfielder may hail from Argentina, but after re-signing with the Portland Timbers this week, the club's talisman made it clear he was thrilled to stay in his adopted hometown.
"It's not easy when you have to make decisions, right?" Valeri told the Talk Timbers podcast this week. "But at the end, with all the support I received from a lot of people in this city and this club, I think the decision was easy."
While Valeri has a good case to be regarded as the most important player in Timbers history, leading them to the MLS Cup title in 2015 and MLS Cup MVP and MLS MVP awards along the way, there had been considerable speculation his time may be running out in the Rose City toward the end of the 2019 season. While rumors swirled, Valeri took the approach of waiting until the games were over, then talking about the future.
"To be honest, I thought the best thing to do [was] to keep it quiet and just with the people who obviously have to talk, most likely at the end of the season," he explained. "I was very, very focused on the competition. And then the last couple months of the last season I was focused on a calm strategy to make the right decision, see what is best for the club, what is best for my family, for my career. At the end, we get to the right point, so I think that's most important."
While many players either live away from their families or keep a low profile with a partner or children, Valeri's wife and daughter are local celebrities of a sort and the player said the ultimate decision to re-sign came down to what his family wanted.
"The only people I was really concerned about this and talked with was [my wife] Florencia and [my daughter] Connie, because for me, I'm not very selfish of my career, my life, so they were both the most important to make the decision. They both love the city, love the club, people who are supporters and obviously the fans. They suffer [through] the process for that...It means a lot they're going to see me with a jersey they want."
With the contract signed, Valeri is already looking ahead to the 2020 season, and put particular emphasis on Portland's entry into the Leagues Cup competition.
"We signed just yesterday and since then I'm thinking [how] to be better and better at the right point in the preseason, because my main focus is trying to get the team obtaining the individual performances, but most likely to win another trophy, obviously an MLS Cup. The Leagues Cup we're going to play, [and] I'm thinking about it because it's an international cup and our supporters deserve that. They know it's very important for us to achieve that, which is not easy."
Valeri may be 33 but while he's flattered to be an unusual player who is widely liked and respected around the league by peers and rival fans alike, he's not yet in a mood to reflect on his career, instead aiming to add to the impressive personal and team accomplishments racked up with the Timbers the past seven years.
"The only thing I want is to look back and be satisfied about what you did right, what you call your effort or your sacrifice of your family. It's an honor, that recognition," he said. "I look at memories that made me happy, made me stronger, but at the end I always look forward because the only way to maintain and enjoy at the end the process is to be focused on the present and the future and that is what I'm looking for now and next season I want to be better than last season."