The latest complicated chapter in the saga of Ariel Ortega’s turbulent time at River Plate has seemingly come to an end after the playmaker agreed to remain at the club for another year, until the end of his contract in June 2009. Many had thought El Burrito would be making his way to Estudiantes after his recent bust-up with Diego Simeone.
The decision was taken at the end of a twenty-minute meeting at the Monumental between Ortega and River president José María Aguilar on Friday. On his way out of the ground a happy Ortega told radio reporters, ‘I’m staying here.’ For his part, Aguilar later told Radio Del Plata’s Vamos Con Niembra; ‘I don’t know if there will be a three-party meeting [including manager Diego Simeone], the only definite is the 7th July, when the team return for pre-season training.’
Ortega’s increasingly frequent absences from River’s training sessions during the Clausura irritated Simeone, who dropped him from the squad for the side’s (meaningless) final match against Banfield just a week after the star had performed superbly against Olimpo to help his side to the title. Ortega had been unsure about continuing under Simeone, with many expecting him to join his good friend Juan Sebastián Verón at Simeone’s former club Estudiantes, but now he’ll be sticking around for another year. After that, who knows?