In this new series, I am going to highlight a much-loved and talented footballer from the past. I’ll tell you a little bit about what I think their key qualities were that made them so special. We’ll go on to look at how best to re-live that legend in Football Manager, by naming a few current players who may be able to ‘mirror the magic’ of the superstar and potentially become your new FM20 hero.
Who is it?
In today’s post, we will focus on one of my all-time favourite players. It is a certain Fantasista by the name of Juan Román Riquelme.
Current vice-president of the iconic Argentinian club where he first made his name, Boca Juniors, Juan Román Riquelme is regularly brought up (or at least should be) whenever the question “who is the greatest ever number 10?” is asked over multiple pints between friends in the pub (remember pubs?).
Now to be clear, in historic footballing terms, the number 10 is more than just a vinyl number on the back of a jersey. Although much less fashionable, and therefore deployed a lot less often than it used to be, the ‘number 10’ is a very specific position and role on the pitch, in the hole behind the striker or strikers. Believe me when I say it used to mean a lot more than when the current FIFA-playing generation use the term “CAM.”
The wonderfully rich history of the number 10 position has been discussed in closer detail before. Fellow Dictate the Gamer, Crusadertsar has referenced this in more than one of his articles.
What made him so good?
In a professional career spanning from 1996 to 2014, taking in incredible spells at Boca Juniors and Villarreal, with an short-lived and bizarre spell at Barcelona in the middle, Juan Román Riquelme was the embodiment of an incredible playmaker.
Although his showings on the pitch were arguably punctuated by a languid lack of energy coupled with a shortage of pace, El Torero was a magician with the ball at his feet.
Riquelme was invariably the orchestrator in any side he was part of, a free roaming and elegant technician who could pass the ball in a pinpoint manner to wherever he pleased on the field. He could also dribble his way out of the tightest of spots with an exquisite grace. The Argentine barely broke a sweat on the pitch, and if a manager had the good sense to put the appropriate complementing players around him, he never had to.
How would he look in Football Manager?
If we are going to mirror the magic of Juan Román Riquelme in FM20, we need to determine the key attributes that could best recreate how the iconic Argentinian performed on the pitch.
Key Strengths – Dribbling, First Touch, Free Kick Taking, Passing, Technique, Flair, Vision, Agility
Key Weaknesses – Work Rate, Acceleration, Pace
Player Traits – Dictates Tempo, Tries to Play Way Out of Trouble, Tries Killer Balls Often, Curls Ball, Tries Tricks
Position – AMC, ‘Enganche – Support’ role
Who can ‘Mirror the Magic?’
I should be clear. Naturally there may very well be ‘better’ players to play in the ‘AMC – Enganche’ position in FM20 than those I name below.
This is not about finding who is the best player in the game at playing in the same position and role, it is about analysing Juan Román Riquelme specifically, for all his gifts and faults, and seeing who matches most accurately, for better or worse.
In this case, anyone who had a workrate, acceleration or pace attribute of over 13, was discounted.
Sorry, Paulo Dybala, you’re just too pacey and hard-working to be ‘the new Riquelme.’
1 – Dmitri Payet
The 32-year old ex-West Ham talisman, Dmitri Payet is an almost perfect example of a modern Riquelme. Exceptional strengths in all the key areas named above, coupled with a trademark lethargy (Work Rate 8) and physical attributes that mean he likely won’t be outrunning defenders, but rather beating them with beautiful footwork and creativity.
2 – Juan Fernando Quintero
Despite playing for Boca Juniors’ bitter rivals, River Plate; Juan Fernando Quintero is another great fit for the Riquelme role. He is exceptionally technical and creative, similarly relying on skill and wit over strength and athleticism. The Colombian’s stint at FC Porto was potentially his best chance at worldwide footballing fame, but at only 26, there’s still time to elevate him to iconic status at your club.
3 – Edwin Cardona
In an odd twist, the third and final suggestion for the FM20 Riquelme is another 26-year old Colombian. This time it’s CF Monterrey’s Edwin Cardona, who is currently on loan at fellow Mexican club Xolos Tijuana. Cardona previously had a spell at Riquelme’s beloved Boca Juniors in real life, but it was a brief one. With quality attributes in all the right places, can you prove Boca wrong and make Edwin the next great 10?
Do any of you have experience managing these three players? What are your thoughts on who could better ‘mirror the magic’ of Juan Román Riquelme?
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