Riquelme: “My only regret? Not joining Manchester United”
Earlier this year in January, iconic Argentine Juan Roman Riquelme called the curtains on his illustrious career as he announced his retirement from football following a brief stint with Argentinos Juniors. The majestic attacking midfielder, who epitomized the words: ‘Poetry over prose’, previously enjoyed success as a youth prodigy with Boca Juniors before his ill-fated transfer to Barcelona. Later on, he transferred to Villarreal, where he enjoyed tremendous success before returning to his homeland. Earlier this week, Riquelme revealed in an interview that the only regret of his professional career remains his rejection of Manchester United’s advances in 2006.
Having almost single-handedly lead Villarreal to the 2006 Champions League semi-final, Riquelme caught the eye of Sir Alex Ferguson who was in the process of re-structuring Manchester United, following a barren run of two years which witnessed the emergence of Chelsea as a major footballing force. An admirer of Riquelme’s brand of football, Sir Alex wished to build his new-look Manchester United around the legendary No. 10. Following his stint at Villarreal, Riquelme returned to his beloved Boca Juniors where he is revered and adored.
“The only thing I regret in my career was a decision that I took, when at the hotel in England before the semi-final with Arsenal, when Manchester United came to buy me and I said no.”
“I stayed at Villarreal, because I was very comfortable with my teammates.”
It can only be left to imagination what Manchester United would’ve been like with Juan Roman Riquelme playing in the hole behind the striker and linking up with the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, and compatriot Carlos Tevez. Or perhaps the transfer to Old Trafford would’ve ended in disappointment the way it had been for fellow Argentine Juan Sebastian Veron. Dwelling on the ‘what if’ is of no consequence and is best avoided. However, it is certain that the fortunes of both club and player would have turned out very different from how they actually transpired.