Why (and for what) do Darío Benedetto return to Boca and Juanfer Quintero to River: how did it go and what do they seek to recover
August 2019. Darío Benedetto, Boca’s best number 9 in recent history -explosive, courageous, cerebral-, takes the floor, after confirming his departure for Marseille. “It was a very hard blow to have lost against River, there is no doubt about that, but I think that later we made a clean slate. We were champions. It’s so hard to bounce back and I think we did: today we are again in the quarterfinals of the Cup”, he said, in a talk on TV.
Pipa insisted, who preferred not to play a cup match that generated a stir. “It is a mixture of sensations: what I experienced in Boca and I am not going to experience what the people of Boca gave me anywhere else, unless I come back here…. But at the same time I’m happy because I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to play in Europe throughout my career, and it’s given to me today at 29 years old”.
August 2020. Juan Fernando Quintero, the author of the second goal of the 2018 Copa Libertadores final in Madrid -among other works of art- decides to move away from River, overwhelmed by Marcelo Gallardo’s suggestions and excessive substitutions. He travels, almost, almost, to oblivion: he joins Shenzhen, de China in an operation that leaves the Núñez club around 10 million dollars.
“Life always demands us, but I lost many things that people don’t know and I’m not interested in saying… River’s world is strong, it takes you to the extreme, but that’s life. Today we see people we love and they leave, we have to live like this every day. River brings an emotional, physical and mental charge that is strong, and that sometimes overwhelms you. That happened to me and that’s it… There are times when you have to think about yourself and I don’t want to say that River was the problem: there were many things and life saturates you many times and you have to weigh your peace of mind”, he says, in a talk on TV, three months later.
Juanfer insisted, preferring a profound, enormous change of air: “River takes you to the limit, I lost many family, friends and loved ones. I’ve been in this for 20 years now, I’ve sacrificed a lot of time and it hasn’t been in vain: I’ve had a very nice career. But I think that in the end we are human beings, and the character and football stay on the pitch. When you come home and cry it is because we are human beings. Many people don’t know what goes on behind a party and what we suffer, and it affects some of us more than others. And as a result of that one makes decisions”.
At 31 years old, Benedetto decides to return to Boca. In the area, Pipa is the best thing that happened to the xeneize team since the goodbye of Martín Palermo. The 45 goals in 76 games is a formidable brand. He has technique, personality, the Boca World is his comfort zone.
Two shouts against River, in the historic final. Hither and thither. Three titles. He was one of the many who understood the scenario of the day after -of the months that followed- and took the leap of his life: playing in Europe. However, he played little in Marseille. And he acted very little in Elche, in 15th place in the Spanish League, a humble entity with which he also has an economic relationship.
“I am happy for this opportunity that is being given to me. It remains to review and sign, which is the most important thing. But it’s all pretty well agreed. I want to look for the minutes that I didn’t have at Elche, it wasn’t what I was looking for. I will continue supporting the club from the place that touches me now. I have this opportunity to return to the club that I love and I am taking advantage of it. The signature is really missing. The rest is all fixed, “he admits now. It is presented this Thursday at the Bombonera.
“I want to take advantage of this opportunity knowing the things that Boca is playing too. I said that I would return to Boca as a player or fan and I have already kept my word: I will always be a fan of that club and I have the opportunity to return now”, he warns. He is moved by passion: he is a xeneize fanatic. He is moved by the other passion: no one wants to win the Copa Libertadores more than him. And he is moved by the passion for the game, the amateur: he needs to be on the field of play. And what better than in the Bombonera, the one that feels like home.
At 29, Quintero prefers to return to River. It is an exponent of uA class of player that exists less and less. At the same time, a catch: his lineage used to emerge on special occasions. It lacked continuity. You don’t have to remember old phrases about the Doll to put him on the table: “What he had been doing was very good, but he only played for a few minutes. This year (2019) I told him that I wanted him to be the player that would give functionality to the team. That leading role. That he felt that we were going to need a greater commitment from him. He is there for that, to assume a football commitment, he is comfortable with that. We also needed him to see that he had to commit more, be closer to the rival goal. I am happy with his present and that the team can accompany him well”.
Tormented, beyond his class, he traveled to China. He changed the air, he did not play too much (21 games). Now, he took the leading role that the coach always demanded of him: he wants to be again. Or better yet: definitely explode. It is the year of the World Cup. Like Pipa, Juanfer will arrive in Argentina this Thursday. He suffered a slight sprain in his left knee, which will require a week and a half to recover.
Quintero underwent medical tests this afternoon in Medellin that determined the degree of the minor injury to the internal collateral ligament and that is why he was unable to take the flight he had booked. Juanfer, who was 10 and captain of the team, was injured last Sunday in the 2-1 win over Honduras, after scoring a goal.
“Surely in the next few hours we will close everything that has to do with my arrival at River. It’s my team, my preference. Regarding the other interests, there were several, but my intention was to return to River. Hopefully in the next few days we can be closing everything and, when I leave the concentration, introduce myself to the team and get together. If God wants the next call will be from River”, he confesses, these days.
Beyond Madrid -the leading role of the two out of series was notorious-, they needed a change of air. They did not shine in their destinations. They missed the aura of giants. And they are back, desired by the coaches, loved by the public. Boca, River and… Argentine soccer, despite so many nonsense, disorganization and thin pockets, violence and intolerance, maintains its magic.