Would you want Riquelme in your team?

November 19, 2007

Riquelme celebrates after scoring against BoliviaWhat next for Riquelme?

Villarreal have not given him a single minute of action this season. Argentina have fielded him in all three of the World Cup qualifiers so far and he has responded with four goals, three of them from sublime free kicks.

Few players divide opinions as deeply as enigmatic midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme. At his best, he is an elegant playmaker (enganche) in the best South American tradition. At his worst he is a ponderous passenger. And to deepen the dilemma, Riquelme seems incapable of playing a supporting role in any team: either you build the side around him or you leave him out altogether.

Villarreal, tired of what they say are his excessive privileges and lack of commitment, have taken the latter view and shunted him into the reserves.

Argentina coach Alfio Basile, who with his slick-backed hair and gravelly voice appears to have walked out of a 1950s tango club, is something of an old romantic and continues to make Riquelme the centrepiece of his team.

Basile admits he has put his reputation on the line in doing so but so far it has paid off and Argentina are the only team to have taken maximum points from their opening three games in the South American group.

Yet, Riquelme has already let his country down by doing his famous disappearing act when they needed him most. He was anonymous when they lost to Germany in last year’s World Cup quarter-final and was muscled out of the game by the physical Brazilians in the Copa America final in July, when Argentina lost 3-0.

Villarreal are still paying Riquelme’s wages and are keen to offload him at the earliest opportunity. Would you want him in your team?

PHOTO: Riquelme celebrates after scoring Argentina’s second goal against Bolivia in their 2010 World Cup qualifier at Monumental stadium in Buenos Aires, November 17, 2007. REUTERS/Santiago Pandolfi


We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/

no questions asked. id take him….n take that risk….

Posted by tika | Report as abusive

Brian, you’re right about the all-or-nothing aspect of riquelme. I remember at Barcelona Van Gaal was never really convinced and used him only now and again, and often on the wing. It was obvious it was never going to work, even though he scored a few improtant goals and was far from terrible.

Posted by Kev | Report as abusive

Of course not. He is too old.

Posted by vava | Report as abusive

I think I read somewhere that Everton were interested but as a Liverpool fan I’d take him in a heartbeat. We saw glimpses of what a player of his quality could do when Litmanen was at the club. Sign Riquelme now, let Gerrard go for 50 million quid at the end of the season and get back to playing with a little panache. (OK, I may have got a bit carried away there…)

Posted by London | Report as abusive

What a question? He is undoubtfully my best soccer player in the world, Pallegrini and Villareal are not well, Because you cant froze a player with that amazing ball skills.
London I agree with you Rafa must make a bid for the guy and sell Gerrard because to Real madrid or we still have Lucas Leiva as back up for Stevie

Posted by Marlow | Report as abusive

He’s just the sort of player Spurs could do with in a midfield bereft of vision. They’re used to Argentine magic from the days of Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa so a player of Riquelme’s class would be welcome. Come on Ramos give him a call.

Posted by Ken | Report as abusive

whomever wrote this article apparently did not watch the 2006 WC Game against Germany because Argentina Fell Apart after Roman was substituted by Pekerman. and excuse me if im wrong but wasn’t riquelme but in the copa final riquelme was good. the argentine defence was very shaky and that put argentine behind early. riquelme did provide the team with offensive chances and even rung the post himself. lets see villarreal get out of the group stage of the champions league without Roman. he carried them all the way to the semi’s on his back. yes he missed the penalty against arsenal but if not for his playmaking they would not have made it that far

Posted by Frank | Report as abusive

As an everton fan riquelme with cahill osman arteta mcfaden yakubu and johnson, thats title contenders!! riquelme wud add the creativity that everton have lacked! he is an awesome individual. unique style tho x

Posted by badger | Report as abusive

I think he’s enigmatic player in every sense. His fitness to maintain highest tempo remains as his weakness and overall weaknesses of argentine players.

Tevez-Messi-Hienze-Veron-can go missing in crucial game or moment which slip away the chances.
In general argentine are sprited at any moment be it for clubs or country.

I still regard Requelme one of the best player in world. I think wc2010 is waiting argentina to pick up.

Posted by Sunshineadiosamigos | Report as abusive

i was at the argentina germany quarterfinal match and the moment pekerman took riquelme off the field, argentina lost possesion of the ball and in essence lost it’s brain on the field. the germans realized this and seized upon this and began to attack. so it’s completely off base to lay the responsibility at his feet, when in fact, with riquelme on the field, argentina were up 1 to 0 and in control of the game.

secondly, is anyone forgetting that he has almost single-handedly won not one but several international cups for Boca Juniors, against the likes of hmmmmm REAL MADRID (fully loaded) and Milan. I believe makelele is still looking for the his legs after the tango lesson he got in Tokyo from roman. would youwant him on your team? depends, would you want zidane of kaka? if you;re willing to make the team work around players like that, as Basile has, you will reap the rewards in the medium to long term.

Posted by fernando | Report as abusive

The writer of the article does not know what he is talking abt…what the flip yo roman was worthless against germany and Brasil???….agaist germany it was coach who cost the match and agaist those brasillians….defence was terrible….in fact none got in rhythm….u cant just blame riquelme for that….I am a Barca fan…I would take him if I was the coach kicking ronaldinho to chelsea…..u will see his team kicking ass in europe wherever he lands next season !!!

Posted by MESSI | Report as abusive

Riquelme took Boca Juniors single handily to this years Copa Libertadores, and in the semifinals of the the year Barça won, he took Villareal all the way against Arsenal. Riquelme took Argentina all the way to the final against Brasil in the Copa America, hes a player you can count on in big matches. Everyone talks about Messi, Tevez, and a few of the youngsters but in 2010WC everything will revolve around Riquelme.

Posted by fmaruchan | Report as abusive

[…] score two more goals for Argentina, though — his third and fourth in two games, this without playing a single first-team match for his club since the start of the season — the price has gone up, and the number of suitors […]

Posted by Where’s Riquelme Going Today? – Rumors & News – The Offside – Serie A Italian Football Blog | Report as abusive

I think he would play well in America, probably substituing Insua as the enganche with Cabañas and Castroman…

Posted by aguila | Report as abusive

You state that Riquelme “was anonymous when they lost to Germany in last year’s World Cup quarter-final and was muscled out of the game by the physical Brazilians in the Copa America final in July, when Argentina lost 3-0″. He took the corner that resulted in Argentina taking the lead in the game against Germany, indeed Argentina were cruising until he was substituted quite unexpectedly and Argentina susequently lost the game. I hardly see that as being his fault. In relation to him being out muscled against Brazil he was the only Argentinian player to emerge from the game with any credit having hit the woodwork and forced proceedings early on. So in answer to your question yes I would take Riquelme in any team in a heartbeat. He is a special player, and while he may be a passenger at times, what he is capable of in an instant of brillance far outweighs that. Id carry him on my back just to get him on the football pitch.

Posted by Dominic Enright | Report as abusive

are u serious c’mon player like juan treated in this manner by villareal.i’m sure with all the criticism he faces ,he will anser back villareal some time later.he is sure to find a place in some big club in europe probably in barca or inter or real.

Posted by mumbai | Report as abusive

I dont want him to go to a country like spain or italy. I think England is the best place for him, Maybe Man Unitede, Liverpool, Arsenal Or Chelsea Then u will see what the best player in the world can do. He will outshine Ronaldo,Gerrard,Fabregas & Lampard…The only player i think that you can still compare to Riquelme is Messi,Kaka & Malouda

Posted by Riquelme | Report as abusive

I don´t think Riquelme was ever the same again for Villarreal once he missed that Champions League penalty against Arsenal. I was there and remember the look on his face before he took it – the colour drained out of it and you just knew he was going to miss it. I think it has preyed on him ever since.

He is a great player but blows hot and cold and can undermine a team because they have to play for him if he is to perform at his best.

Villarreal aren´t missing him that much this season and for me the only two teams he will ever really be happy in are Boca and Argentina.

Posted by Simon | Report as abusive

I see there’s another report saying Boca want him back, possibly before the end of this month:
http://www.marca.com/edicion/marca/futbo l/1a_division/villarreal/es/desarrollo/1 059605.html
I hope he gets a move somewhere anyway. Shame to think a player of his quality can’t get a game regularly.

Posted by Kev | Report as abusive

I don’t remember Riquelme doing much in the World Cup game against Germany but it wasn’t as if he was terrible. I still think he’s a great player.

Posted by London | Report as abusive

He needs to go to another club top player on the bench, thats like messi or adriano being on the bench, hes class, villareal are hardly in a position to put him on the bench it is arogance that shud be rewarded by him leaving

Posted by Danny Dyer | Report as abusive

He is one of the briliant footballer in the world because his magical skills due to the Fact that soccer has turn into intertainment and not scoring goals and playing soccer like rugby. Riquelme combined with Cesc Fabregas,Tomas Rosy,and Hleb you have can have all meals in the magical arena; ARSENAL BY VIRTUE.

Posted by john otieno | Report as abusive

According to the Eurosport website tonight Buenos Aires have agreed a deal with current club Villareal for Riquelme.
There are no numbers yet published but I’m guessing that the price will be somewhat less than it would have been before the start of the season.
In my opinion however certain clubs have dodged a bullet with this guy, he certainly is not a team player off the field and a team such as Arsenal who are built around ‘team players’ could well have become unstable if this guy had put pen to paper.

Posted by Free Bet Man | Report as abusive

Riquelme for the last 3 years has been my favorite player on the planet, his ability to read the game and dictate it to how he wants is uncomparable, the likes of kaka c.ronaldo and ronaldinho are all amazing players but to have a football mastermind backed up with supreme technichal ability gives him a whole new dimension and the cutting edge that convinces me he’s worth the risk, base the team round him and he can work wonders, he has proven this time after time, the downfall with Riquelme is his antics off the pitch, villareal werent happy with his “injuries” and he didnt show for training on numerous occassions, but when matchday comes i’d prefer him on my team than to be playing against him

Posted by Beard | Report as abusive

Everyone who loves this game, wants Riquelme in his team. Brian, your arguments againts him are polemic rubbish. He played a fantastic Copa Americana. To reduce this on the final against Brasil – that´s ridiculous.

Posted by Giovanni | Report as abusive

Riquelme plays some of the best footbal the game and to say things like that is wrong! Would I want him in my team (Liverpool) of course but on the right wing instead of kuyt. He really is a fantastic player despite his age. On matchday id have him any day of the week against any club, hes like Ronaldo without the pettiness or diving. His free kicks are just as good he has the same skill level but ok he does carry what he calls “injuries” in training and hes not as quick as some of the younger players and one day he could captain Argentina before he retires!

Posted by Jamie Davison | Report as abusive