Sunday, 1 February 2009

Older and Wiser

The Clasura kick-off is fast approaching, preceded by the usual transfer market mayhem. Whilst those of us who live in Old World are used to seeing the latest starlets arrive to ply their trade, the coming campaign in Argentina will boast 86 players aged 30 or over. Many of these aren't merely reserves or make weights looking for an easy end to their careers but key players and lynchpins: Martin Palermo 35 (Boca Juniors), Juan Veron 33 (Estudiantes), Rodolfo Arruabarrena 33 (Tigre), Marcelo Gallardo 33 (River Plate) and not forgetting Juan Roman Riquelme 30 (Boca Juniors).

From a positive perspective this phenomenon can be seen as a victory for modern sports medicine, training regimes and nutrition. It also demonstrates how a player who is dedicated and takes care of himself can still be at the top in his third decade; aswell as giving fans the chance to see these stars in the flesh. Less positive is the timeless truth that any capable Argentine footballer in his 20's will more often than not be tempted abroad, Riquelme's return to Boca was a rare exception. As a result ever younger and ever older players are required to fill the gaps.

I admire the attachment many of these players feel with clubs that nurtured them, Veron's return to Estudiantes, Ortega's with River Plate etc. Napoli's new signing Jesus Datolo is yet to kick a ball for them but he's already made public his desire to one day return to Boca Juniors.

Hasta luego!