Manuel Veth –
Stefan Aigner has joined the Colorado Rapids in Major League Soccer ending any hopes by 1860 München fans that he could join his favourite club’s rebuild in the Regionalliga Bayern. As of last week, there was hope that Aigner could be indeed persuaded to remain in Munich and stay with his boyhood club.
In reality, there never was a real chance for Aigner to stay at 1860 and it was therefore not a major surprise when Aigner was revealed as a new signing for the Colorado Rapids. 1860 fans, however, cannot be too disappointed. 1860 München was relegated to Liga 3 at the end of last season, but following licencing issues and a conflict with the primary investor Hasan Ismaik failed to come up with the necessary funds to play in Germany’s third division and therefore had to restart their rebuilding process one tier below in the Regionalliga Bayern.
Those have been hard days for 1860 fans, and the club was grateful when Sascha Mölders, Jan Mauersberger signed new contracts as well when former star Timo Gebhart decided to return to the club. But Aigner decided that he was not quite ready yet for the step down to the Regionalliga despite the fact that he used to be one of the hardcore fans standing in the Nordkurve.
Aigner’s view was quite clear he was not quite ready yet to join what has become in essence an amateur club. Talking to the media in Germany Aigner said: “I would have stayed in Liga 3, but Regionalliga… I am 29, and this sport is my job. I don’t want to make myself smaller than I am and want to play at the highest possible level.”
Stefan Aigner had Options in Germany
Many therefore suspected that Aigner would either join a Bundesliga 2 or even Bundesliga side. Augsburg was interested in some time, but Aigner’s 1860 past and the strong rivalry between 1860 and Augsburg fans would have made it difficult for Aigner to join the club.
Then about a week ago a rumour made the rounds that Aigner could leave Germany altogether to start a new beginning in Major League Soccer. The move made sense. The attacking midfielder had been seemingly hurt by what happened to his club last season. In fact, he often seemed overwhelmed by the pressure that continued on him throughout the season last year.
Brought back from Eintracht Frankfurt as a present by Hasan Ismaik to appease the divided 1860 fan community Aigner was greeted like a messiah by die Löwen fans. But in reality, the winger struggled with the expectations. Injuries and the burden of having to lead a team that constantly was in transition even meant that he had to take some time off after the winter break. Some even mentioned a burnout.
Colorado is a New Beginning for Aigner
A new beginning on a new continent in a league where he will not be a superstar is, therefore, the perfect next step for Aigner. He will now join a league where he will be largely unknown, but thanks to his talent should quickly become one of the best players in the league.
Aigner is, in fact, a dangerous player. Ignoring his somewhat disappointing Bundesliga 2 season with 1860, it becomes apparent that Colorado have landed a Bundesliga, calibre player. Playing 136 games with Frankfurt, he scored 28 goals and gave 27 assists. His standout season was in 2014-15 where he scored nine goals and three assists in 28 games. Frankfurt, in fact, were reluctant to let Aigner go last summer and 1860 had to pay €3.5 million to bring back their lost son.
With those numbers in mind, Colorado fans can look forward to a dynamic winger, who will make players around him better. Aigner can both score and give assists. At just 29-years he is still in his prime and motivated to quickly leave one of the most disappointing seasons in his life behind.
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.