Riquelme played 51 times for Argentina. AP/Press Association Images
What could have been

'The only regret in my career is saying no to Man United when they came to buy me'

Argentine playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme attracted the interest of Alex Ferguson and says that his decision to reject their advances still pains him.

JUAN ROMAN RIQUELME says that his decision to reject a move to Manchester United in 2006 is the only regret of his career.

The former Barcelona midfielder helped Villarreal reach the Champions League semi-finals in 2005-06 – where they would lose to Arsenal – with his performances attracting the attention of Alex Ferguson and United.

A cultured playmaker, Riquelme won three Copa Libertadores trophies with Boca Juniors, two Interto Cups with Villarreal, and also helped Argentina win gold at the 2008 Olympics, whilst winning the Argentine Footballer of the Year award four times between 2000 and 2011.

Riquelme, who is now retired following a short stay at Argentinos Juniors, says that the Red Devils attempted to acquire his signature prior to Villarreal’s clash with the Gunners and he maintains that his decision to snub United’s advances – because of his comfort in Spain – still rankles.

“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 Mundo Deportivo.

I stayed at Villarreal, because I was very comfortable with my team-mates.”

Having been rejected by Riquelme, United instead signed Michael Carrick from Tottenham in the summer of 2006.

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