Juan Román Riquelme finally returned to La Bombonera permanently on Thursday, signing a contract which should keep him at Boca Juniors for the next three years. Diego Maradona, meanwhile, went on a meet-and-greet. Riquelme’s apparently told Villarreal that they needn’t pay him the money they owe him, ‘for another year and a half,’ and his previous promise to play the third year of his Boca contract unpaid seems to have been remembered.
Maradona, meanwhile, also visited the squad on what was a difficult day all round for manager Miguel Russo, following Thursday evening’s loss to Tigre which left them out of the title race. FIFA have confirmed that Riquelme won’t be allowed into Boca’s squad for the Club World Championship – a blow to Russo, who rumours suggest could be out of a job if he fails to win that title. Maradona’s show of support, then, was much appreciated.
‘It’s no moment to talk about replacements, this year the club won the Copa Libertadores. Other clubs in Argentina have lost and were out of the title race a long time ago, and no-one says anything [about the manager]… Boca lose, and it’s as if the world ends,’ stated Maradona, exasperatedly. ‘It’s lamentable that they speak this way when there’s a more than capable coach in place and no better men for the job in the country.’
Riquelme’s long-awaited arrival, whether he can play in Japan or not, is a great fillip for the side whichever way you look at it. Maradona’s show of support may not mean much in concrete terms – he has no official position at Boca – but Russo certainly won’t be complaining about either of these two great #10s today.