Big Shoes To Fill: Gutierrez And De Brienne Leave Valour FC
It isn’t the news that the Valour FC faithful want to hear: today, the club has confirmed that club captain Diego Gutierrez and left-back Matteo de Brienne have formally left the side.
While both of the athletes received ‘substantial financial offers’, as per Phillip Dos Santos, they have decide to sign on elsewhere.
Diego Gutierrez was a key cog at Valour and an everpresent leader of the team, tallying four goals in 26 appearance as the side’s frequent captain this year. He’s been a crucial engine in midfield since arriving from AC Barnechea two seasons ago, but now his second stint in Winnipeg has officially come to a close.
Gutierrez will leave the club as it’s all-time appearance leader, having represented Winnipeg no less than 82 times. We believe he’s set for reigning CPL champions Cavalry FC, a club that has continental football on the menu and have never missed playoffs – something Valour has yet to reach.
Young Matteo de Brienne has dazzled spectators with his blistering runs down the left flank, cementing himself as high-calibre full-back who just won the league’s Best Canadian U-21 Player award.
Having wrapped the 2023 CPL season with six goal contributions, the Ottawa native has turned heads back in the nation’s capital, so it wouldn’t be surprise to see him return to his former side Atletico Ottawa.
No bones about it: these two leave big shoes to fill for Phillip Dos Santos, who will need to bank on strong player recruitment if he’s to survive the next season in Winnipeg.
“Look, both were players we wanted to keep, and we made our pitch,” says Dos Santos. “Now we look ahead. In any team nobody is irreplaceable. Nobody.”
The club also confirmed that it would not present out-of-contract defender Andrew Jean-Baptiste with a new deal. Frequently donning the armband and a big figure in the community, the defender amassed forty appearances since The Island Games, but frequent injury problems saw him make just nine appearances this year.
Dos Santos didn’t hold back on identifying that as the cause for his departure:
“Unfortunately, he was decimated by injuries and limited to just a few games over the last couple of seasons,” surmised the gaffer.
In addition, Chilean forward Walter Ponce will not be returning. The last two seasons saw him tally six goals across all competitions.
The defensive end is in for a massive overhaul, too: out-of-contract defender Guillaume Pianelli won’t be back either, while the club has declined its club options Klaidi Cela and full-back Andy Baquero, who joined the side two years following his defection from Cuba and is second in their all-time appearance list.
The club did activate its club option on former Pacific defender Abdou Samake, who made 20 appearances for the side since joining alongside Jordan Haynes. He looked a good pickup, helping the side to a record less goals against than playoff clinchers York United.
“He’s a player that we brought in last year and he showed glimpses of what he could bring to our team,” explained Dos Santos. “But he also suffered with some setbacks with his body. He’s someone we count on for his leadership and experience and his quality as a centre back. He’s one of those players that will help us solidify our back line.”
The club remains in negotiations with club original Raphael Ohin, who is the only player who’s been with them since the start – though there are questions on whether he’s up to par with the CPL’s increasing level of play.
With the Valour roster landing at twelve players following today’s announcement, a lot of eyes will be on who the club brings in to replace the mass of outbound athletes. Reaching playoffs next year will also go a long way in avoiding future players turning down offers to move to clubs who have reached postseason before, too.
Header Image Photo Credit: John Jacques