His return to Málaga in the winter transfer window raised some doubts with a section of the fans. Martin Demichelis sat down with AS to look back at some of the highs and low of his career.
Did you ever think you'd be back at Málaga one day?
I hoped I would; I dreamed I would return and that is what I wanted to happen. I am very happy to be able to enjoy the second half of the season. I always left the door open.
You all know the reasons why I left but I wasn't the only one - so did Jesús Gámez who was born here and spent his whole life here. What can I say? Others left too - Joaquín, Cazorla, Maresca, Rondón, Monreal… even Pellegrini! The situation was very disorganized. I left for a million reasons and because the club had debts to service. And I would exactly the same again if I had to.
It was a very difficult year because my father had an accident and I decided to return to Argentina because my two sisters were on their own. Our mum had died 10 years earlier and I decided to go back - almost with the intention of staying. After living with my sisters for a month or so, I decided to continue my own path.
Then what happened?
I got a call from [Diego] Simeone and he persuaded me with his plan because he knew that Atlético were going to be very competitive that season. Atleti won La Liga and reached the Champions League final. So it turned out to be the right move…
...and after that?
I was a bit saddened when, after being at the club for just 45 days, Atlético made a profit by selling me to City for five million euros. If thing had turned out how they should have, I would have renewed with Málaga and they would have gained that money, although it might have been less as I was 33 years old. City had tried to sign Pepe, who had lost his place in the side to [Raphaël] Varane. But Real Madrid disn't want to sell him. So City were left a bit short-staffed at the back and Manuel decided to sign me.
Steep learning curve in Manchester
How was your time in England, with City?
On a sporting level it was wonderful, fantastic. In my first season we won the league and the League Cup. Those performances, both collective and individual, eraned me a recall with Argentina aged 33 in the World Cup finals. It was one of the best years of my career. The following season we ended as runners-up and I was the outfield player to have played the most minutes. In my final year we won the Cup again and reached the Champions League semi-finals. I lost my place in the side. City bought four centre-backs - there was Otamendi, Kompany and Mangala, who just a year earlier had been my deputy and they paid 40 million for him. For me it was three years of constant growth and development because I'd never played in the Last 16 of the Champions League and we got through that stage three times with City.
How would you describe the pain of losing a World Cup final - can it be compared to any other type of pain?
I will never have another chance to play in a World Cup final. I don't know when Argentina will get another stab at it - hopefully, very soon and they win it. It's the pinnacle for any professional footballer. After losing that final, your mind just keeps going through what happened and the pain stays with you for the rest of your life. I can't bring myself to sit down and watch those 120 minutes again. One day, when my son is older, I'll sit down with him and we'll watch it together. But right now, seeing those images again is just too painful.
How was your departure from Espanyol?
I intended to move on and Quique understood. I wasn't playing and I began to notice a distancing which didn't make me fee too good as a player. When I rescinded my contract, I still hadn't received and offers and knew nothing about Málaga. I knew that they were looking for a centre-back because Weligton was out injured and Koné would be at Africa Cup of Nations… I contacted the club and they decided to sign me. It made me feel useful, I really felt like going back to Málaga and I wanted to help the team. I can understand why some people were a bit uncomfortable about it - I'm 36, I hadn't played competitively for five or six months, but on the other hand, I was still getting called up by Argentina.