January has been dominated, in Argentina, by two things, as usual; the utterly meaningless and deeply tedious ‘Summer Tournaments’ organised by sponsors to sell tickets to friendly matches (often involving one or more of the Big Five) to locals and holiday-going porteños in other parts of Argentina, and summer transfer rumours. Two of the most visible of the latter came up yet again on Saturday, though the biggest of the lot – where Juan Román Riquelme will end up playing, if at all in 2013 – is still an open question.
Fabbro’s tedious summer soap opera
Jonathan Fabbro is an Argentine forward who has gained Paraguayan citizenship, having played in that league for Guaraní and Cerro Porteño since 2007. Widely considered the best player in the Paraguayan league, he’d attracted interest during this window from River Plate – whose new manager Ramón Díaz clearly doesn’t think he already has enough attacking players. In spite of being a very vocal Boca Juniors fan, and indeed a former Boca player, Fabbro doesn’t seem to have any opposition towards the idea of playing for River.
The fact that he’s been so heavily linked with River is surely entirely coincidental to the fact that Fabbro’s agent, Adrián Castellanos, is also Ramón Díaz’s agent. Nonetheless, it’s been one of the most interminable transfer sagas of the summer (and given an interesting twist a few days ago, when Fabbro’s brother was arrested in Buenos Aires for attempted burglary). On Saturday, Castellanos finally admitted the move is all but off. ‘They want over four million [US] dollars – almost five,’ he said. ‘There’s no real intention to sell him.’ So there we have it. For now.
Centurión to join the foreign legion
One deal that was agreed much more easily was the sale of Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Centurión from Racing to Anzhi Makhachkala, of Russia, for a fee of €7.5 million. Centurión travelled earlier in the week to Russia to sign his contract, the two clubs having agreed the fee, and that the player would then return to Argentina and play the Torneo Final for Racing before making the move. On Saturday, it emerged that Anzhi wanted Centurión to stay in Russia now, to get used to his new surroundings.
That change in their conditions of course threw the deal into doubt, and there was talk through the day that Racing would raise the asking price or even that the deal would be called off – young forward Luis Fariña wants out of Racing, and had been promised a transfer by the club, only for them to turn down a €4 million offer from CSKA Moscow earlier in the week (Fariña subsequently hit the roof, and isn’t a happy bunny at all now). If Centurión’s sale had been called off on Saturday, the wantaway striker might have got his wish.
It now seems, though, that Anzhi have agreed to the original terms of the Centurión deal again – the fee will remain the same, and Ricky will continue to play in Argentina for another six months. As for Fariña, we (and he) will have to wait and see.
And Riquelme does what Riquelme does
And Riquelme? He had been set to sign for Palmeiras in Brazil last Monday, but the deal fell through over his sky-high wage demands (US$250,000 per month) when new Palmeiras president Paulo Nobre took over negotiations on Tuesday. There is said to be interest from Fluminense, and even from Benfica – though the latter in particular seem lukewarm to say the least. And in amongst it all, Tigre still hold out hope. The side from northern Buenos Aires, managed by Néstor Gorosito, can’t offer as much money as clubs in Brazil or Europe, and Riquelme said when announcing his departure from Boca last year that he wouldn’t play for another Argentine club.
Tigre’s trump card, though, might well prove a decisive one: aside from being able to offer potential Copa Libertadores football this year (they won the first leg of their qualifying round 2-1 in midweek), they’re the club Riquelme has supported all his life. All the same, Riquelme’s potential transfer destinations are as variable and predictable as his moods, so my advice here is not to bet on any club he might be playing for just yet.