Barcelona have hosted some truly remarkable footballers over the years.
The likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Thierry Henry, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Ronaldinho may all spring to mind.
But one player who graced the Nou Camp’s turf is often forgotten about, despite going down as one of the finest playmakers of his time.
Juan Roman Riquelme was a pass master in his prime, but although the Argentina midfielder played some of his best football as a Barca player, he played it for a different club.
Riquelme played for Barca between 2002 and 2005, but only played 30 La Liga games for the Catalan club. He spent most of his three years at Barcelona on loan at the club where he’d play his best football: Villarreal.
In 2003, Riquelme joined Villarreal on loan, and became the club’s best player of a generation. With the fearsome presence of Marcos Senna and the class and technique of Riquelme, Villarreal’s midfield was impossible not to love. The club won two Intertoto Cups (2003, 2004) and the Argentinian was the star of the show.
In the 2003-04 season, Riquelme was awarded the Don Balon La Liga Foreign Player of the Year award.
He joined Villarreal permanently in 2005, and continued to shine for the club until leaving in 2008 to return to Boca Juniors, where he started his professional career.
There, he won two more domestic titles and the 2007 Copa Libertadores before retiring in 2014.
A true artist in midfield, Riquelme was a cross between Andrea Pirlo and David Silva. His languid playing style and range of passing set him apart. There were always quicker and stronger players on the pitch when he played, but few had the craft and technique of Riquelme, who was a true cult hero of his time.
He played more than 50 times for Argentina and stood out at the 2006 World Cup.
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