Portugal to Spain. Spain back to Portugal. Portugal to Italy. Italy to England. England to Turkey. Turkey to United Arab Emirates. United Arab Emirates to Portugal. Portugal to Turkey.
Ricardo Quaresma’s career path is as drastically veering as the trivela technique the outside of his right boot has become synonymous with over the last 20 years.
He’s won league titles in three different countries and lifted the European Championships with Portugal yet, in the same breath, managed to flunk opportunities at Barcelona, Inter Milan and Chelsea.
Now, with a 37th birthday looming on the horizon and his Kasimpasa contract up when the season eventually concludes, ‘The Gypsy’ is one the move once again.
Given Quaresma’s age, the tenth move of a career that started out as a 17-year-old under Laszlo Boloni at Sporting CP may well be his last.
But, as is only right for a man with Quaresma’s eye for the spectacular, his last dance isn’t going to be a quiet waltz away from the limelight.
Quaresma himself fanned the flames during a recent interview with Porto’s official digital platform when he said: “I would love to finish my career at Porto.”
His affinity with Porto is understandable, given the club twice resuscitated his career. He sought refuge at Porto after a spectacular falling out with Frank Rijkaard at Barcelona in 2004 and was rescued again in 2013 after being released by Al-Ahli, ending a period of eight months without a club.
After joining Porto in 2005, Quaresma lifted three consecutive league titles- playing alongside the likes of Anderson, Diego, Lucho Gonzalez, Pepe and Lisandro Lopez- but he was then unable to help the club win anything during his second spell between 2013 and 2015.
Benfica have since emerged from Porto’s shadows to win five of the last six Primeira Liga titles, something Quaresma will be desperate to put and end to.
A reunion with Pepe to link up with Porto manager Sergio Conceicao- himself a mercurial winger whose international career with Portugal was arguably ended by Quaresma’s emergence- would be the romantic option, but it’s far from a done deal.
Take away Quaresma’s cult status at Porto and it’s hard to see how the signing of a winger entering his late thirties helps the club’s attempts to overhaul Benfica domestically.
If not Porto, then where?
A move to Major League Soccer screams out as the natural progression of Quaresma’s career path,
High wage demands reportedly scuppered a move to FC Toronto last year, while LA Galaxy have repeatedly been touted as a possible destination.
But, for pure Hollywood, it would only be right if Quaresma ignored LA Galaxy’s advances and instead linked up with David Beckham at Inter Miami.
The Designated Player rule created in order to sign players of Beckham’s caliber has only been used to bring Rodolfo Pizarro and Matias Pellegrini to Miami, so the arrival of Quaresma would give the club a much-needed boost both on the pitch and in the marketing department.
America and the usual Chinese Super League rumours aside, another rumoured destination for Quaresma’s swan song is Brazil.
A potential Brazilian sojourn owes much to Jesualdo Ferreira, who managed Quaresma during his second spell at Porto and now finds himself in charge of Santos.
Santos’ Vila Belmiro stadium has played host to some of the game’s greatest entertainers- namely Robinho, Neymar and, depending on how much you trust the CGI footage, Pele- but Quaresma is one of the few players in world football with the creative pedigree to hold his own amongst those tricksters.
Compatriot Jorge Jesus’ role as Flamengo manager makes Rio de Janeiro a possibility, while the chance to follow in Ronaldinho’s footsteps and form South America’s most exciting tandem with Everton Soares at Gremio is an intriguing, if unlikely, prospect.
Whether the curtain finally falls in Portugal, America, Brazil or Timbuktu, it’s been one hell of a show.
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