Saturday has brought news that’s been expected for some time in Argentine football; Juan Román Riquelme, who announced he wouldn’t be playing for Boca Juniors again in the wake of their defeat in last year’s Copa Libertadores final, has agreed terms with his local club Tigre (of whom he’s a lifelong fan), defeated finalists in the 2012 Copa Sudamericana. The remaining stages of the deal will be the most complicated, because Boca Juniors still hold Riquelme’s registration, and aren’t expected to be happy about letting him go to another club in Argentina.
When Riquelme and Boca president Daniel Angelici held a press conference last year to outline the terms of Riquelme’s exit from the club, it was explained that Boca wouldn’t stand in Riquelme’s way of moving to any club outside Argentina. Palmeiras in Brazil looked close, but contract negotiations eventually fell through when they changed presidents. Since then, Tigre have been favourites to secure Riquelme’s signature, and a chat during the week with manager Néstor Gorosito is said to have helped make his mind up.
The sticking point of course is that Tigre aren’t a foreign club, so now the negotiators have to go to Boca and find a way of convincing Angelici to let Riquelme move. A US$2 million fee has been mentioned in the Argentine press – where Tigre would get all of that money isn’t clear, but they do have some wealthy and politically powerful fans, who’ve been involved in the talks with Riquelme and his agent.
One clause Boca seem likely to pursue is an agreement stating that Riquelme won’t be able to play against them in the league during the Torneo Final. That wouldn’t apply if the two sides were to meet in the Copa Libertadores or Copa Argentina, though, so the sight of Riquelme running out for the opposition at La Bombonera would still be possible (if seemingly unlikely).
Negotiations aren’t likely to be over in five minutes, but something that seemed wildly improbable before has now come to pass; Juan Román Riquelme has actually found a club he’s happy to play for.
“Happy to play for”…for now. Unless Boca stands to gain something, why would they allow JRR to go to Tigre ? I can’t see anything positive for Boca coming from that. I’m sure a smoked filled room deal will likely be struck, but were it me, JRR could play outside Argentina, or sit.
Given that Boca have already agreed (when Riquelme first announced he was leaving) to effectively rescind his contract whilst retaining his registration (because a player’s registration with FIFA always has to be held by a club), Riquelme could probably have quite a lot of fun with them in a sporting tribunal if they really did try to stand firm.
It’s not really clear what they’d gain from standing in the way of a deal, either. And they’d lose out on around US$2 million, if the fee being reported in Argentina is accurate. He’s not worth an awful lot to them when it’s become very clear he’ll just make negotiations awkward with any other club that comes calling.
Thanks Sam for your thoughts. Now I read in the Buenos Aires Herald that JRR is flirting with Boca again. What madness !!