Juan Román Riquelme has joined Argentinos Juniors on a 18-month contract to place Argentinos Juniors back in Primera División.
The most improbable turn in the history of the Nacional B besides the River Plate relegation in the 2011-2012, Juan Román Riquelme has joined his former youth team Argentinos Juniors.
The signing has been the birthchild of the ambitious project by Argentinos Juniors’s chairman Luis Segura (AFA Director as well, involved in a ticket scalping incident in the 2014 Brazil World Cup) and manager Claudio “Bichi” Borghi to return the Paternal Team, a plot that has involved Riquelme as well as the signings of former Primera División title champion and captain Matías Caruzzo (in Boca with Riquelme for the last few years) as well as Cristian “el lobo” Ledesma, recently released on a free from River Plate, after he agreed to depart with the board after his favourite manager, Ramon Díaz, resigned.
The incidences who led to Riquelme’s signing are not to be taken lightly: there had been an ongoing novel on the status of his renewal of contract with Boca Juniors that went on through the World Cup, differences based on the amount of time and money, the rewards based on performance and even on the reference value for the dollars involved in the contract (a big issue since the purchase and sale of dollars in Argentina is highly restricted). Finally, after coming and going and the suspected issue of a crackdown in the Bianchi- Riquelme relationship, led to Riquelme agreeing to play back for Argentinos Juniors after eighteen years of having left the team (as a reserve player), while leaving Boca chairman Daniel Angelici to face the discontempt of his manager as well as the Boca fanbase. Given is that Riquelme has had a bit of a history regarding his contract renewals in the past, but this seems to have been the last straw for Boca and Riquelme.
The question now lies to see how Argentinos Juniors will be able to pay for Riquelme’s 35% off contract (35% less of what he had been offered a Boca, which seems to leave not such a big difference at hand), how he’ll be able to play on Argentinos’s significantly smaller pitch (basically reducing his gameplay and size), and also how he’ll be able to handle the rigours of playing Nacional B football (also significantly tougher in tackling and gameplay) to Primera División football.
Riquelme, called by many the last enganche in Argentina after players like Maradona, has not participated in the pre-season with Boca and will not be able to do so as well with Argentinos as the bichito pre-season has already passed. Although this has been the second season Riquelme gets to play football without going through a pre-season, a fact that has dwindled his form and physical state for the season. We’ll just have to wait and see how Riquelme is going to go about his business, but after all of it, welcome to el Ascenso, Román.
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Christian Ledesma signs for Argentinos Juniors as well.