Will Argentina be better off without Riquelme?

March 12, 2009

Even before this week’s outburst and his decision to quit Argentina for the second time in three years, Juan Roman Riquelme’s future with the national team had looked uncertain.

Riquelme missed their first two matches under Diego Maradona because of club commitments and, without him in midfield, Argentina shook off the apparent lethargy which had marked their last few displays under Alfio Basile.

There is much to admire about Riquelme’s play. His elegant, languid style is a refreshing sight in the modern game, with its emphasis on speed and strength, and sadly he appears to belong to a dying breed.

But too often his temperament lets him down. Many feel he is over-sensitive to criticism and it took only a innocuous comment from Maradona in a television last week to dent his pride.

“We don’t think the same way,” said Riquelme with an expression resembling a sad puppy whose favourite bone has just been taken away.

“We don’t share the same codes of ethics. While he is the coach of the national team, we can’t work together.”

“Sometimes, it seems like I’m a disaster and can’t make a single pass,” he added, referring to criticism of his recent performances with Boca Juniors.

Claudio Mauri, a columnist in the daily newspaper La Nacion, wrote: “Riquelme showed that his pride makes no concessions, not even to Maradona and everything that his figure respresents.”

Under Basile, Riquelme had everything he wanted. The team was built around him and he was ever-present in Argentina’s first eight World Cup qualifiers, no matter how he played.

Although Maradona had also pencilled in Riquelme as his playmaker, it was clear the 30-year old would no longer enjoy the same influence.

There has been widespread speculation that Riquelme had fallen out of favour with senior members of the squad with some versions talk of an incident with Lionel Messi during the Copa America in Venezuela.

Maradona would certainly have risked disrupting his team if he had introduced Riquelme into the mix in the World Cup qualifier against Venezuela later this month.

He also has a reputation for underperforming on the big occasions.

Will Argentina do better without him?

PHOTO: A combination of file pictures shows Argentina’s national soccer team coach Diego Maradona (L) and playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme. Riquelme announced he was quitting Argentina’s national squad due to differences with the team’s coach, Diego Maradona, during a TV interview. REUTERS/Staff/Files

12 comments

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I think both Maradona and the Agentine team need Riquelme, I hope that Roman And Diego sit together and solve this missunderstanding because I think they will form a perfect combination.

Posted by Bashar | Report as abusive

Will Argentina be better off without Riquelme? Yes, they will be.

Posted by El Fede | Report as abusive

[...] the original post here: Will Argentina be better off without Riquelme? Tags: alfio basile, brian-homewood, contributors, copyright, environment, juan roma riquelme, [...]

This is no problem . Maradona should reconcile with Riquelme. It would be a heartbreak to not see him next year in the world cup. He is the rarest of the rare. A soccer animal nearing extinction . His type of playmakers are great to watch. Riquelme`s soccer is like reading poetry on a fullmoon night in the mountains.He can be slow but he is different. Argentina and Maradona should understand to counter the european style of soccer they should plan a game plan that revolves around Riquelme. Speed of messi and the wit and class of Riquelme will make them champions on 2010. If they loose one of the two they will wither in the need of the hour.

Pls ROMAN Stay back.. for benefit of the beautiful game

Maradona should reconcile with Riquelme. Riquelme is the rarest of the Rare. He is the last of the stylists. His type of play will be extinct if he retires. To counter European play it is neccessary to have a “MIDFIELD MARSHALL” like Roman. Maradona and AFA need to understand the importance of preserving someone like Roman for the Overall good of the beautiful Game..

Roman Come Back Soccer needs you..

[...] Reuters on Argentine futbol. There’s a big thing going on about Riquelme’s decision to sulk in a corner. I’m happy that he’s excluded himself from the side as we have a chance of winning the World Cup now (yeah…we). [...]

“He also has a reputation for underperforming on the big occasions.”

Riquelme first won everything there was to be won with his club, Boca.
Then he went and won everything. Again.
In short, he spent the last ten years winning everything there was to win.
Last year, he won the Libertadores cup (equivalent to european Champions League). Many matches, he won almost single handledly.

Posted by Biblio | Report as abusive

Reluctantyl I’d have to say yes, they will be better off without him. He’s a player I like a lot but Argentina gave him a long run in the team and now it’s time to make Messi the focus.

Posted by jimbo | Report as abusive

It’s very sad if that’s the last we’ve seen of Riquelme in an Argentina shirt. It might be for the best for Argentine football, but it’s sad nevertheless. He just oozed class, even if things didn’t always go right for him.

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

I think he is a great player and regardless if Argentina are currently playing well without him, they won’t forever.

He is a super talent and will not be easily replaced.

Posted by Neil | Report as abusive

The Great Juan Roman Riquelme is the best playmaker that Argentina has now.There’s no one like him left. Without him, Argentina will lose a lot. Who will take the free kiks? Who will slow the game down when everyone is up and down the field without having the mental capacity to read the game. Maradona needs to act like a coach and coaches don’t go and criticize their players over the media.

I hope Juan Roman does come back to the team. His football is the best in the planet. Everyone who loves good football would love to watch Riquelme. I hope to see in South Africa. Maradona and Riquelme need to sit down to resolve this childish situation.
For me, Riquelme cannot be replaced. After Zidane left the game, we only now have Riquelme.

Posted by Pierre D. Boisrond | Report as abusive

Even though riquelme is the best in his class and possibly the only one left in his class
in my opinion he needs to come back to the roots of it all which means he needs to put down the attitud and talk to the Boss ……Maradona is the his Boss and if he wants to win a ego battle with diego unfortunetly the only prize he will get is to watch argentina play on TV with out him.
Riquelme needs argentina and argentina needs riquelme.
so stop to play games and just play soccer THE REAL GAME

Posted by Robert Maull | Report as abusive

roman the sickest spot kick taker so we need him.

I too will miss Riquelme, and i think the national team will miss him from dead ball situations. We’ll just have to watch him orchestrate Boca’s midfield instead.