[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here is a well-trodden route for Argentina’s top footballers that sees emergence in their homeland followed by stardom in Europe, with the culmination of their careers back in the South American nation.
While many are involved in potentially leaving the Argentina Primera División for the bright lights of Europe currently, a host of distinguished names are heading in the opposite direction for a last hurrah at the clubs that made them.
The Buenos Aires rivalry between River Plate and Boca Juniors remains one of the fiercest in world football, even if the respective sides have not always been amongst the silverware in recent times.
The star appeal of the respective sides is set to be boosted, with the signing of four of the most distinguished players of an Argentine generation rejoining either River or Boca.
Carlos Tevez’s return to La Bombonera has been greeted with rapturous celebration by the Los Xeneizes masses, with the 31-year-old a firm fans favourite.
A youth team graduate with the famous side in blue and yellow, the tempestuous forward enjoyed three successful years in the Boca first team before leaving in 2004.
Tevez, still an Argentine international, has been open about his desire to return to his former club for quite some time. Juventus will miss the Argentine sorely, while Boca have added a player still more than good enough to star at the pinnacle of European football.
Never content with being outdone, River have looked to counteract Boca’s signing of Tevez with the purchase of five new players.
Along with Tabaré Viúdez and Nicolás Bertolo, who join from Turkish side Kasımpaşa and Banfield respectively, three retired Argentina internationals of some pedigree will grace the Estadio Monumental turf.
Aimar, now 35, has recently completed a somewhat bizarre stint in Malaysian football.
The diminutive playmaker started out at River back in the mid-90’s, before leaving to join Valencia in Spain.
The gifted midfielder spent ten years stepping out for the Albiceleste, building up over 50 caps for his nation.
Saviola has recently seen a season with Hellas Verona in Italy run its course and returns to River 14 years after leaving.
The 33-year-old was deemed as one of Argentine football’s hottest prospects after bursting onto the scene as a fresh-faced teenager at River.
Spells at Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid preceding linking up with Aimar at Benfica. Saviola last cap for the national side came in 2007; he scored 11 times in 39 outings for his country.
González, unlike the other two veterans, was not a product of the River youth academy and instead came through the ranks at Huracan.
However, a three-year period in Los Millonarios’ first team in the early 2000’s heralded two Primera División titles, before the versatile midfielder made his way to Europe.
Successful stints at Porto and Marseille followed, with Lucho recently spending a year with Al Rayyan in the Middle East.
At 34, the 45-times capped former Argentina international is also coming to the end of his career, with experience certainly not an issue.
Just how much much Aimar, Saviola and González will offer River in the short term remains to be seen, but from a nostalgic perspective the trio’s arrival adds excitement.
With the likes of Fernando Cavenaghi and Teófilo Gutiérrez in the existing River attack, Marcelo Gallardo’s attack is starting to look star-studded.
As Tevez takes his place in the Boca side also, this Buenos Aires rivalry looks set to take on another dimension, with the presence of these distinguished players a real drawcard.
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