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Riquelme leaves Barça for good

The transfer of playmaker Juan Román Riquelme to Villarreal CF from FC Barcelona has been completed.

Successful loan spell
The Argentinian international has spent the last two seasons on loan at El Madrigal, helping Villarreal to the UEFA Cup semi-finals in his first campaign before scoring 15 times as they finished third in the Primera División in 2004/05. Villarreal have now capitalised on an embarrassment of riches at Camp Nou to secure the 26-year-old on a four-year contract, the transfer confirmed today having been agreed earlier this month.

'Very happy'
Spanish champions Barça, for whom Riquelme made just 14 starts following his €11m move from CA Boca Juniors in July 2002, will retain 20-25 per cent of the player's rights. "We are very happy with the agreement and believe it is a good deal for everyone," Barcelona sporting director Aitor 'Txiki' Beguiristain said.

Difficult to accommodate
"We already have his position well covered with Deco, [Mark] Van Bommel, Xavi [Hernández], [Andrés] Iniesta and Ronaldinho. If we add to that the fact he is a non-European Union player then it would have obliged us to change things we didn't want to change."

Villarreal vigour
Riquelme, who celebrated by scoring today for Argentina in their FIFA Confederations Cup match against Germany, is the latest player to seal his future at El Madrigal. Promising midfielder Héctor Font has inked a four-year contract, following the arrivals of goalkeeper Mariano Barbosa and midfielder Luis Antonio Valencia.