The long and painful strife between Juan Roman Riquelme and Villarreal has ultimately drawn to a mixed close. The Argentine international and one of the most creative midfielders in the world departed European football for good on Friday without so much as saying goodbye to his manager.
With Riquelme finally been able to terminate his contract with Villarreal this week, he is now able to play once more for his old club Boca Juniors. But he does leave the Spanish club under a cloud and under acrimonious circumstances. The player fell from grace towards the end of the 2005-2006 season and by the end of that year, he had fallen out with club manager Manuel Pellegrini and club President Fernando Roig. The Chilean has since declared openly that he will never play Riquelme again and had stayed true to his words.
Riquelme’s presence in the Villareal dressing room on Friday morning was quite astounding to the players who, although quite appreciative of the Argentinean, felt that Riquelme would prefer moving out to Argentina quietly. He was of course greeted by his team mates but not by his coach Pellegrini, who had yet to arrive then.
Not that Juan Roman Riquelme was particularly anxious to meet the person who has been his Enemy Number 1 for over a year. He didn’t wait for Manuel Pellegrini to arrive at the club’s training ground and neither did he bother about saying goodbye to the president. Riquelme has consistently lamented about the lack of confidence and support from Villareal for him and has gone as far as to accuse of Roig of purposely not letting him move to another club at the start of the season.
But now that enigma has finally been reunited with his old love Boca, he must be trying to reinvent himself once again. He inspired and led Boca to the Copa Libertodoras success in 2007 during a 6-month loan period at the Argentine club and after a six-month banishment from all club football, Riquelme is back to do what he does play: play football. Riquelme is already a vital component of the Argentine national team and him playing regular football at club level would only enhance him as a player.