Juan Roman Riquelme Says He Nearly Signed with Chivas USA

He could have been a Goat! - Richard Heathcote

Chivas USA nearly made the splash of all splashes in landing Riquelme, according to the player himself.

Here's a bombshell to make you wonder. In an audio interview, posted today on TyC Sports, Argentine midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme, recognized as quite possibly the best playmaker of his generation, said that he and coach Carlos Bianchi, who was rumored to be in the running for Chivas USA's head coach position before it was filled by Jose Luis Sanchez Sola, almost signed for Chivas USA (Spanish). As it happened, Bianchi recently took over as coach of Boca Juniors, and after a short season out of the team because of personal disputes with previous coach Julio Cesar Falcioni, Riquelme has rejoined Boca.

Bianchi, 63, has a long and distinguished history as a player and coach in Argentina and Europe, including four Copa Libertadores titles as a manager. He had not coached since 2006, however, and had never coached in North America. Riquelme, 34, is nearing the end of his career, but as a player whose game has always been built around efficiency of movement, he likely still has two to three more years ahead of him. He is a player who has had falling outs with numerous managers and teammates in his career, however, so it is unclear if he would have been worth the trouble in MLS.

Still, if a team needs to take a big risk on a very talented player, Riquelme would have been the one. Among soccer fans, Chivas USA would have become appointment watching immediately, and the club probably would have gotten some attention in South America. Even if Bianchi wasn't up to the task, and Riquelme couldn't stick it out for long, it would have been so tantalizing to see him wear the red-and-white. In the end, however, it's not happening.

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