BUENOS AIRES, June 21 (Reuters) - Midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme has been included in Argentina’s Copa America squad less than a year after announcing his international retirement.
Riquelme, who scored both goals as Boca Juniors beat Gremio 2-0 away to win the South America’s Libertadores Cup on Wednesday, was in a 22-man-squad named announced by the Argentine Football Assocation (AFA).
Riquelme said in September that he would not play for his country again because the criticism of his performances was affecting his mother’s health.
He left Spanish club Villarreal in February after falling out with coach Manuel Pellegrini and returned on loan to Boca, the club where he made his name.
He has been in inspirational form since then, finishing the Libertadores with a tally of eight goals. A recall had been widely expected.
Television pictures showed Riquelme boarding the team bus as the squad headed for the Venezuelan oil city of Maracaibo, where they face Paraguay, Colombia and United States in their first-round group.
Villarreal, who still own Riquelme, said earlier that they had no plans to reincorporate him into the team.
“The club is looking for the best way out for the player,” said director Jose Manuel Llaneza.
”He has demonstrated once again at Boca Juniors that he is one of the top players in the world, but that doesn’t change the fact Villarreal has made an irreversible decision about his future.
“The good thing is that the way he is playing will make it much easier to sort it out.”
Striker Javier Saviola, who has had an unhappy season with Barcelona, was left out of the squad -- the only surprise omission.
Midfielder Juan Sebastian Veron, who had been recalled by coach Alfio Basile following an absence of more than two years, was named.
Strikers Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez and Hernan Crespo were all included as expected and the latter will play in the tournament for the first time.
Goalkeepers: Roberto Abbondanzieri (Getafe), Juan Pablo Carrizo (River Plate), Agustin Orion (San Lorenzo)
Defenders: Roberto Ayala (Valencia), Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan), Hugo Ibarra (Boca Juniors), Gabriel Milito (Real Zaragoza), Gabriel Heinze (Manchester United), Daniel Diaz (Boca Juniors), Nicolas Burdisso (Inter Milan)
Midfielders: Luis Gonzalez (Porto), Javier Mascherano (Liverpool), Esteban Cambiasso (Inter Milan), Fernando Gago (Real Madrid), Pablo Aimar (Real Zaragoza), Juan Sebastian Veron (Estudiantes), Juan Roman Riquelme (Boca Juniors)
Forwards: Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Hernan Crespo (Inter Milan), Diego Milito (Real Zaragoza), Carlos Tevez (West Ham United), Rodrigo Palacio (Boca Juniors)
Writing by Brian Homewood in Sao Paulo