Juan Roman Riquelme has admitted he regrets turning down a move to Manchester United back in 2006.
The retired midfielder, one of the most talented footballers of his generation, was approached by the Red Devils in a hotel before Villarreal’s Champions League semi-final against Arsenal.
Riquelme, who ended his playing career last year following a brief spell with Argentinos Juniors, said he turned down a move to Old Trafford because he felt comfortable at El Madrigal. However, the Boca Juniors legend now regrets his decision.
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“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,” he told Fox Sports Radio.
“I stayed at Villarreal, because I was very comfortable with my teammates.”
Incidentally, it was Riquelme’s missed penalty in the dying minutes of that Champions League semi-final which sent Arsenal through to the final in Paris at Villarreal’s expense.
While there can be no doubting Riquelme’s masterful quality, former United boss Sir Alex Ferguson must have had concerns the midfielder would fail to shine at Old Trafford in the same way his compatriot Juan Sebastian Veron struggled years earlier.
Few footballers on the planet were better technically than Veron, who United signed for £28.1 million in the summer of 2001, but he was sold two years later to Chelsea for £15 million after failing to make an impact in the Premier League.
[Quotes translated by Squawka.]
Would Juan Roman Riquelme have lit up Old Trafford? Or would he have struggled like Juan Sebastian Veron? Have your say by leaving a comment in the box below!