It was an open secret really. COCO gave ROMAN the captain arm-band for the first game in his new tenure (against Brazil in London, when we lost 3-0).
Soon after that, RIQUELME announced his retirement from International football but the reasons he gave for taking that measure (his mother´s health), plus the fact that before making it public, he called the manager to let him know first-hand, kept the manager from being mad or angry at RIQUELME and most importantly, the door remained wide open.
Now, with a renewed interest from ROMAN to be a part of the team that will go and play the Copa America in Venezuela (June-July 2007), Alfio BASILE will embrace him once again as he considers RIQUELME a great playmaker and an important member of his squad.
Where will VERON stand in this? Well…I don´t think we should really compare VERON with RIQUELME. Or make them compete for the playmaker spot as I think BASILE will see VERON more as a right midfielder (probably) rather than have him sitting behind the two strikers as he´ll like to see ROMAN.
Plus…according to BASILE, there is never an excess of talented footballers. That´s a rule in his book.
Many managers will be scared to bring to a World Cup many offensive players (take a look at Sven Goran Eriksson with England (he took an unfit Michael OWEN, an injured Wayne ROONEY and an unkwown Theo WALCOTT to join the only game-ready forward he had Peter CROUCH. So just four attacking men! Too little!).
BASILE in 94 used Claudio CANIGGIA, Gabriel BATISTUTA, Abel BALBO, Diego MARADONA and he even had offensive midfielders Leonardo RODRIGUEZ, substitute forward Ramón MEDINA BELLO and a young Ariel ORTEGA in the mix.
I see no reason for VERON and RIQUELME to co-exist in the team. Of course, I don´t want them to be picked because of their names. I want them to perform in order to deserve the call.
VERON did it last season by becoming one of the best players of the tournament, helping his team of moderate budget (Estudiantes de La Plata) beat millonaires Boca Juniors to the title.
Will RIQUELME do the same this time around?