Former Argentina Number 10 Juan Roman Riquelme has hailed Andres Iniesta “the best” after watching the latest Clasico.
The Boca Juniors legend was suitably impressed at how his former team-mate at Barca was a central figure in the 4-0 dismantling of their great rivals, Real Madrid, at the Santiago Bernabeu.
And despite the sheer number of star players on show, Riquelme was left in no doubt as to who he feels is the game’s premier talent.
Messi and Cristiano score lots of goals, but Iniesta is the best.
He shows you how football should be played. I have to watch Iniesta. He does everything you could want to see from the stands. He’s the only player that teaches you in every game, no matter whether he plays with Barcelona or Spain. When he doesn’t play the team isn’t the same.
It was touching to hear the fantasista’s praise of Iniesta, having served as mentor during the Barca captain’s formative years, although the adulation had been reciprocated back in 2012 by his playmaking protégé.
I was lucky to have met him in my early years in Barcelona,” said Iniesta.
After many games, after so many good times we enjoyed and I’ve seen, I can say that I am delighted to have been his companion. When I played with him and when I’ve seen him play what I liked most was the class that he had on the ball, the passes he made, the combinations.
He is a player with whom I identify, in the sense of always being available to receive the football and moving the ball on.
When he decides to retire, football will lose one of the best.
Riquelme, who did retire from the game he uniquely graced in January 2015, also took time to speak about Barcelona’s likely future opponents in the upcoming FIFA Club World Cup final – a team he knows all too well having been his own rivals on many occasions, River Plate.
Hopefully River get to play Barça in the Club World Cup. Barça would beat them nine games out of ten, but River will give it their all. Argentine players are a cut above the rest but, that said, Barcelona have lots of South Americans in their ranks.