ITALIAN World Cup winning midfielder Daniele De Rossi does not want to gently wind down his career.
There will be no holiday in China or the United States.
After two decades with Roma, he wants to spend some time in a place where the people are even crazier for football – and so he has signed for Buenos Aires giants Boca Juniors.
His big quest is to win the Copa Libertadores, South America’s Champions League.
At the end of last year, of course, Boca came up short, beaten in the final by great local rivals River Plate.
There will be no repeat this year. The two Argentine clubs are in the same half of the draw.
They could meet in the semi finals. But first they have to book their place in the last eight – and that is the task for the coming days.
River Plate have the harder task. They were held 0-0 at home by Cruzeiro of Brazil last week, and now have to go to Belo Horizonte and chase a result.
Boca, meanwhile, came back from Brazil with a 1-0 first leg win over Athletico Paranaense, and so a draw in front of their own impassioned fans will be good enough.
De Rossi will not be playing. He has not yet been registered for the Libertadores, and is still getting himself fit enough to make his Boca debut.
PREMIER LEAGUE INFLUENCE
Mauro Zarate will probably feature, with Carlos Tevez most likely on the bench – and there are plenty of other former Premier League players in action.
Luis Antonio Valencia just left Manchester United, and is now back in Ecuador playing for Liga of Quito.
He set up a goal in last week’s 3-1 win at home to Olimpia of Paraguay, whose defence is organised by Antolin Alcaraz and their attack is led by Roque Santa Cruz.
Whoever comes through will meet either Boca or Athletico in the quarter finals.
Another Paraguayan side, Libertad, seek to overturn a 2-0 deficit at home to Gremio of Brazil, and will look for leadership from the former Sunderland pair, defender Paulo Da Silva and midfielder Cristian Riveros.
Newcastle are represented by Fabio Coloccini, who used his giant hair to clear a ball off the line last week and ensure that San Lorenzo of Argentina did not lose at home to Cerro Porteno of Paraguay.
And Andres D’Alessandro, briefly of Portsmouth, will line up for Internacional of Brazil, a goal up after the away leg against Nacional of Uruguay and looking good for a spot in the quarter finals.
This list of ex-Premier League players reads like a roll call of veterans.
Paulo Da Silva, for example, is not far off 40, and several of the others are not far behind.
South American club football, even the best and biggest clubs, has suffered from the opening up of the global market in players.
The continent’s stars are lured abroad – not just to Europe, but to the Far East, the Middle East and the USA as well.
This can leave the domestic game looking like a doughnut; there are grizzled oldies at one end, promising youngsters at the other – and a large hole in between.
Thankfully the promising youngsters are still to be found – and one of them is now a team mate of Daniele De Rossi, if only briefly.
Attacking midfielder Alexis MacAllister was picked up in January by Brighton, and should be making his way to the south coast early next year.
In the meantime he has left Argentinos Juniors and been loaned to Boca.
It is the very route that a certain Diego Maradona took – before moving on to a somewhat bigger European club beginning with ‘B.’
MacAllister is not Maradona. But he is an interesting prospect, talented and mobile.
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On his Boca debut he scored the only goal of last week’s first leg against Athletico with a fine shot from the edge of the area.
That strike makes Boca the firm favourites to gain a place in the quarter finals.
And so if the 36 year old De Rossi gets to play in this year’s Libertadores, he will owe a debt to the 20 year old Alexis MacAllister.