A member of the Argentina national team, Juan Roman RIquelme is an attacking midfielder with Boca Juniors. This Argentine footballer was born in San Fernando, and was noticed by River Plate as well as Boca Juniors during his days with Argentinos Juniors. The move to Boca happened in 1995, and he was paid US $800,000 as a signing amount. But his first professional match only happened after a year, which ended with a 2-0 win against Union de Santa Fe. His first goal for Boca was against Huracan in the same year.
In 2002, Riquelme was transferred to FC Barcelona, for a reported 11 million. Tragedy struck the footballer shortly after he left Boca when his brother was kidnapped, and Riquelme eventually paid the ransom. He mentioned that this incident was one of the reasons why he left Boca, though dispute over his contract with the club seemed a more likely reason. Terming it as a ‘political signing’, Louis van Gaal, did not treat Riquelme with much enthusiasm. He was deployed on the flanks the rare times he got to play, and spend most of his time with the club in the wings. He was eventually dropped from the first team and kept as a backup player. A year later, Riquelme moved to Villarreal FC.
This move was extremely beneficial for the player as he regained his form, playing alongside fellow South American and Latin players. These included Juan Pablo Sorin, fellow Argentine and captain of the national team. At the end if the 2004-05 season, Marco, a Spanish newspaper awarded him the title of ‘Artistic Player’, and he further received a nomination for the 2005 FIFA World Player of the Year Award.
Impressed with his performance, Villarreal went on to purchase 75% of Riquelme’s rights from Barcelona, amounting to nearly 8 million Euros. They gave him a 4-year contract, and promised a 25% transfer fee to Barcelona if Villarreal resold Riquelme. But this led to a unique situation when in 2005, Villarreal defeated Lille OSC, a French club and won their group. They also knocked out Manchester United F.C. on the way, apart from Lille, and entered the knockout stages of the Champions League.
After this successful period, Riquelme moved back to Boca on a five-month loan. This was after he had a disagreement with Manuel Pellegrini, Villarreal’s Director General and club manager. With Boca, Riquelme was instrumental in their 2007 Copa Libertadores title victory, winning the Copa Libertadores’ Most Valuable Player Award the same year. In 2007, when Boca Juniors nearly gave up hope of acquiring Riquelme, a possibility opened up wherein, Villarreal offered him for 4 million Euros and half rights to either Jonathan Maidana or Mauro Boseli. But Boca rejected this offer and Riquelme was all set to move to Atletico Madrid for 8 million Euros. But at the last minute that deal fell apart, and Riquelme managed to reach an agreement with Villarreal to transfer to Boca in 2008, when the transfer option opened up again.