Boca Juniors coach Julio Cesar Falcioni has categorically denied that his club were behind the decision to leave Juan Roman Riquelme out of the Argentina team, insisting that Alejandro Sabella made the choice not to call on him.
The 33-year-old has been in his best form for years with the Argentine giants, leading to a clamour for him to return to international duty for the first time since 2009. In the list released for the World Cup qualifiers against Chile and Venezuela, however, the veteran was a notable absence.
Responding to speculation that Boca asked for him to be left out due to his fragile physical state, Falcioni was at pains to argue that it was purely Sabella's decision.
"If Riquelme was not called up [on Monday] it is because Sabella did not want to do it, not because I have exercised some sort of pressure as some around here have said," the trainer told Telam on Tuesday evening.
"Today Riquelme underwent physiotherapy exercises to recover from a knock to the knee, but the decision to not include him for these qualifying matches lies only with Sabella. He is the one who has to decide if he wants him or not."
With Riquelme in great form, Boca have been enjoying their best season in recent years. They are currently unbeaten and in first place, five points clear of nearest rivals Rafaela. Falcioni admitted that he was delighted with the improvement he has seen since taking over.
"Boca are playing an excellent championship. What we still need to do is convert a few more of the massive number of chances that we get in every match," he pointed out.
The team have a week away from the pitch due to the international matches, but will be back in action on October 16 at home to Belgrano.