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  Monday, 15 July, 2002, 15:48 GMT 16:48 UK
Riquelme makes Barca move
Riquelme (centre) is mobbed by fans at Barcelona airport
Riquelme (centre) arrives at Barcelona airport
Argentine midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme has completed his 7m move to Barcelona.

The 24-year-old Boca Juniors player arrived in the Catalan capital on Monday, saying: "With luck I'll be a champion at Barcelona. That's all I'm hoping for."

And he added: "I just have to get used to the game here as soon as possible and then hopefully give the fans something to cheer about."

Riquelme was welcomed at Barcelona airport by cheering fans, many wearing Boca Juniors shirts.


We have to give Riquelme and the rest of the players time
Louis van Gaal
Barcelona coach

"I was a little surprised by the welcome," he said.

"I had no idea the people would care so much for me."

However, Riquelme's stay in the city could be a short one as he may spend his first season in Europe farmed out on loan.

Spanish football federation rules allow each club to field only four non-European Union players.

And Riquelme's arrival takes Barcelona's non-EU contingent to five.

Another Argentine, Javier Saviola, and Brazilians Rivaldo, Geovanni and Fabio Rochemback are the other non-European players at the Nou Camp.

One of the five is likely to be loaned out, or even sold, to meet the quota.

Barcelona coach Louis van Gaal said he was "very happy" to have signed Riquelme.

"He's a player with a lot of talent," the Dutch coach added.

Riquelme is following in the footsteps of Diego Maradona
Maradona moved from Boca to Barca in 1982
"He'll have to work hard, though, as will everyone else here."

Riquelme's move to Barcelona sees him follow in the footsteps of Diego Maradona, who played at the Nou Camp between 1982 and 1984.

Barcelona failed to win the league title during Maradona's spell at the club, though, and Van Gaal is expecting more from Riquelme.

"There have been a lot of comparisons between Riquelme and Maradona," Van Gaal said.

"People may remember, though, that Maradona didn't win much here. I do want to win things.

"We have to give Riquelme and the rest of the players time and maybe in the end we will win something."

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