In October last year I wrote an article on the future of Argentine and Boca Juniors legend Juan Roman Riquelme. Here is a quick snippet from that article:
Astonishingly Riquelme has not retired at the age of 34 but he has left his beloved Boca Juniors. Succumbing to the constant pressure on him to succeed at an ever ailing age he has left after failing to lead the side to Copa Libertadores glory against Corinthians last season claiming he was simply ‘too tired’.
He has offers from Brazil, the Middle East and China, but this is not a man of usual tactics. Don’t be surprised if he never truly reveals his retirement. Instead leaving a door open so that his passionate and unwavering supporters continue to believe he may return.
To those at La Bombonera there is little doubt, Riquelme, the divisive, spiky and often languid playmaker will always be remembered from when he was creating footballing existence as if from clay and seemingly starting fires in front of your very eyes.
On his good days at least.
Yes he had left his beloved Boca Juniors once again but this time it seemed a terminal split. Indeed his ‘passionate and unwavering fans’ still existed at La Bombonera despite their mercurial club icon leaving the club due to the pressure consistently put on him to succeed for the side.
‘El Eterno No. 10’ had plenty of offers for his services after an extended break from the game. A deal to Palmeiras seemed wrapped up till a last minute plug pull; Santos and Gremio were also mentioned. Then there was Qatari, Chinese and Mexican interest in his services.
However in a dramatic U-turn he returned to the club earlier this month to partner up with his former coach at the club Carlos Bianchi.
So what does this mean to the man they affectionately refer to as ‘The Heir’ in Argentina; teenage sensation Leandro Paredes?
The youngster is reportedly the heir to the throne of Riquelme and he certainly possesses a similar talent; if anything he also carries more pace than his master. The protégé has been watched by Manchester City and Arsenal scouts in recent months along with Serie A sides like Juventus and Inter Milan.
In terms of playing time it should not affect Paredes or Riquelme to much. One in his mid-30’s the other a teenager; rotating them should not be too difficult.
Riquelme has already spoken of his admiration for the young starlet:
"He plays well, I like him. He has a lot of pressure on him, he's young. He always wants to improve and he's going to be a figure of Argentine football. I am lucky to be with him and I'm going to help him however I can."
However what will Riquelme tell his apprentice about a move to Europe?
JRR had a tumultuous time in European football. An unhappy spell at Barcelona was followed by a successful but controversial stint at Villarreal. Eventually he left Europe and never came back after falling foul of the continent.
With his ear to chew on Riquelme may convince Paredes to stay in Argentina for a while yet before trying to move to Europe so he can decide if his future does lie on our continent; something Riquelme himself never seemed certain of.
So what does Riquelme returning to Boca mean for Paredes’ potential Premier League switch? I think it means we may be waiting a little while yet.
What do you make of Riquelme’s return to Argentine football?