After more ins and outs, ups and downs and all round tedious moaning than a particularly tawdry adult film, Juan Román Riquelme has finally signed his new four-year contract with Boca Juniors. Putting pen to paper earlier today, the Boca playmaker extended his stay at the club by four years, a week later than scheduled. Elsewhere, Juan Sebastián Verón has spoken out, for the first time, over the treatment he received from Diego Maradona during the World Cup, and Manchester City’s Carlos Tevez insists there won’t be any problems between him and AFA president Julio Grondona. He’s also repeated that he might only stay in Europe another two or three years before returning to Argentina.
After finally putting an end to the most tedious (oh alright, at times it was pretty funny) media serialisation of the winter, Riquelme immediately joined his new – hang on, old – team-mates for a training session, after telling the press, ‘I want to give the fans another Copa Libertadores as my gift to them.’ He also admitted that it would have been better for all concerned if his contract negotiations had been sorted out at the first meeting. You think? The contract offered to him was finally voted through by the board on Tuesday, but only got passed by 8 directorial votes to 9 – Boca president Jorge Amor Ameal casting the decisive vote. Interesting to note then that former treasurer Daniel Angelici – who resigned in anger at the terms of the contract – wasn’t the only member of the board to have reservations. Riquelme will be paid US$5 million over the next four years, with the tax burden split 50/50 between him and the club (as a free agent, he should have been responsible for all of it).
Verón, of course, has his own club future assured for pretty much as long as he wants it. Whether the next (or current) manager of the national team wants to include him is a slightly different matter, but today, after a month and a bit of silence, he finally spoke out about the way Diego Maradona dealt with him during Argentina’s ill-fated World Cup campaign. ‘There are some personal things I’d like to talk about with him,’ Verón explained. Among the non-personal issues, though, was the one biggie; ‘He declared at one point that I was the team’s Xavi [referring to the engine in Spain’s ultimately victorious midfield], and that he saw me as [key] to one position. After that, I didn’t really play [the meaningful games].’ He also made the startling revelation – well I was surprised by it anyway, the press here seem to think it only merits a mention in the write-up – that before the match with Germany, some players pointed out to Maradona that Javier Mascherano would be on his own against three German attacking midfielders. Diego did nothing about that – and still Julio Grondona was afraid to show him the door outright.
Tevez, finally, has insisted that he won’t be any trouble or expect to have to sit out any Argentina matches after his outspoken comments prior to yesterday’s friendly with the Republic of Ireland. ‘For Julio [Grondona], I’m like a son,’ Carlitos told Estudio Fútbol, without any apparent trace of shame in the fact. ‘I didn’t betray Grondona in order to support Maradona.’ Although that might sound like slightly mixed up thinking, he’s consistent in other things. Tevez has always said he’d like to return to play for Boca again whilst he’s still at his peak, and appeared to repeat that when stating he’d take ‘two or three years more’ in Europe, and probably no longer. He explained as well though, that, ‘when you don’t enjoy playing like you once did, it’s hard to continue.’ Ominous words. There were some wise ones too though; ‘[Lionel] Messi is a great player, the best in the world. It’s very good that Lio is the reference point for Argentina. We should be looking after him more.’
Muchas gracias to @PlanetaBoca on Twitter for the photo of Riquelme above. You can see the full-size picture here.
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