Everyone’s patience has a breaking point. It seems that finally, that of River Plate’s board has reached the same point that Diego Simeone’s got to a few months ago, because it was announced on Saturday that Ariel Ortega, the playmaker who had a vital role in River’s first championship in four years during the Torneo Clausura, won’t play for the side again. The announcement comes just days after club president José María Aguilar rubbished rumours of Ortega moving to the United Arab Emirates.
Ortega seems to have accepted that he won’t be playing for River again. The club’s directors have demanded that he get professional treatment for his long-running alcoholism, after he failed to show up for training on Friday following a pre-season match for River. On Saturday he met with club directors Mario Israel, Domingo Díaz and Julio Macchi to request that the club accept the recent bid for him from Al Mir Sports of the United Arab Emirates. The directors in question suggested instead that Ortega seek professional help for his addiction, presumably at River’s expense.
According to Díaz, talking to Radio Latina, ‘Ortega is dragging down the image of the entire team.’ That’s hardly a ringing endorsement, and considering that just a few weeks ago the directors went over manager Diego Simeone’s head in allowing Ortega to stay as a member of the first team squad for another season, it can only be hoped that they feel rather embarassed about the whole thing now. ‘[The directors of the club] have allowed Ortega to take licence that not every player would have got away with… unfortunately, due to his addiction, he’s not done responded in the best manner.’
Whether Ortega goes to the UAE or remains in Argentina to seek help, it seems highly unlikely he’ll have a part to play in River’s Apertura campaign. Having played an important role in winning back the league title for them, he may be forced to watch from the sidelines in the new season. Either way, though, it’s clear he need some prompting to seek proper help for his problem.