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South American Dispatch: Juan Roman Riquelme Leaving La Bombonera Behind

Juan Roman Riquelme of Boca Juniors has echoed the statement made by River Plate’s captain Marcelo Gallardo and broken the news that this weekend’s Superclasico fixture could be his last.

Riquelme’s words have added fuel to the fire that he is due to leave La Bombonera when his current contract expires in June. Over the Christmas period the talented midfielder was linked strongly with a move to Corinthians in Brazil but ended up staying put in Buenos Aires.

Now three days before Boca’s crunch tie with arch rivals River the former Argentine international has broken the news that his future is still clouded with uncertainty.

“I’m committed to Boca until June and after that we’ll see what happens.”

It has not been the best of times at Boca recently with the club continuing the patchy form which saw them miss out on a place in this year’s Copa Libertadores. As speculation mounts that Riquelme is due to leave the club at the end of the Clausura the player himself was in no mood to commit his future to Boca.

“Anything is possible. I gave my word to our last president that I would retire here but he has since moved on. We are nearing the end the season now so then I will make a decision.”

The atmosphere surrounding Boca reached a new low after their 3-0 defeat to Tigre last weekend and head coach Abel Alves is under increasing pressure. Riquelme stopped short of criticising his coach but admitted he understands the concerns of the fans.

“We have had confidence in Alves since the day he took the job. We try to win every game but when it does not happen it is natural that people will talk about problems. The coach is working hard to find the winning solution.”

Neymar steps up to the plate

With Robinho watching from the stands it was his understudy Neymar who did the damage for Santos as they brushed aside Remo in their Copa do Brasil fixture.

The attacker who turned 18-years-old last month netted twice in the game and also played his part in the other two goals in Santos’ handsome 4-0 victory.

The youngster who is equally adept at playing through the middle or coming from wide put in yet another star turn as the hype surrounding him continues to steadily rise.

Already interest in Neymar has been shown by European heavyweights such as Manchester United, AC Milan, Real Madrid. With his goals per game ratio for Santos standing at just under one every two games it looks like it will be sooner rather than later that one of these European giants takes the plunge.

Neymar is next in action in the United States as he travels with Santos to play New York Red Bulls in a special match to mark the opening of the Red Bull Arena in New Jersey. Neymar will however miss Santos’ next competitive, against Ituano in the Paulista Championship, due to his red card against Palmeiras in the last round.

Tim Sturtridge,