Riquelme played at Barça for one season, scoring six goals. PHOTO: FCB Archive

Argentinian Juan Román Riquelme has announced that he is hanging up his boots at the age of 36, putting an end to a career that included one season at Barça.

The attacking midfielder was always highly regarded for his sublime skill, his reading of the game and his wonderful shot from medium distances. He was always a somewhat shy, introverted character, and after making his name at Boca Juniors, who he had led to the Intercontinental Cup title in 2000, there were high hopes when he was acquired by FC Barcelona at the start of the 2002/03 season.

Hard to fit in

He got off to the perfect start at the Camp Nou by scoring a scorcher on his official debut against Legia Warsaw in the Champions League qualifier. But Riquelme found it difficult to adapt to the rigid structures demanded by coaches Van Gaal, first, and later Radomir Antic. He never quite managed to find his place in a team that performed irregularly in the league and crashed out of Europe in the quarter finals. He contributed six goals to the Barça cause that year.

There was a major restructuring of the first team squad at the end of the season, and Riquelme ended up at Villarreal, where he was part of the extraordinary side that managed to reach the semi-finals of the Champions League in 2006. After that, from 2007 to 2014, he returned to his boyhood club of Boca Juniors, where he’s a living legend, although he was currently seeing out the twilight of his career at Argentinos Juniors.

Los goles de Juan Román Riquelme con el FC... por fcbarcelona
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