BUENOS AIRES, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Boca Juniors playmaker Juan Roman Riquelme fired back on Tuesday at a team mate who questioned his motivation.
The Argentine midfielder, who has struggled to find his best form at both club and international level, hit out at central defender Julio Cesar Caceres and said he had proven his dedication to Boca Juniors.
Paraguay defender Caceres had sparked the row with a radio interview broadcast earlier in Asuncion, where he is training with his own national team.
“He doesn’t know what I feel for the club,” the usually introverted Riquelme told the Fox Sports cable television channel in a telephone interview.
“I take part in pre-match concentration just like the other players and I didn’t have a holiday because I chose to play in the Games,” said Riquelme, who helped Argentina win the gold medal in the under-23 Olympic tournament as an overage player.
“When we won the gold, I ran to the airport so I could play in the (South American Supercup) final.”
The enigmatic playmaker is a key figure for both club and country, having gone back on a decision to quit international soccer shortly after the 2006 World Cup.
Although he can slow the pace of the game down and unlock defences with superbly angled passes, many see his elegant, unhurried style as out of place in the modern game.
“The coach will have to deal with this when we return to the club. These things should be kept in the dressing-room, he’s broken all the codes of football,” he added.
“I’m surprised because during training he jogs alongside me, makes out that he’s being friendly, so this is all very odd.”
Caceres said Riquelme seems to save his best for international duty
“In some matches, he is apparently running and in others he is passive,” said Caceres.
“He seems to be mentally saturated. He seems to have more motivation when he plays for his country.” (Editing by Peter Rutherford)