“It would be incredible to think that he could cross balls to Van Nistelrooy,” said Joaquín Sánchez in February 2004. Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United had raised an offer of 15 million pounds (16.81 million euros) to Betis led by Manuel Ruiz de Lopera. euros) by the winger, then 23 years old and already with a World Cup played (2002) on his record. 19 years later, the attacker visits Old Trafford with Betis in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16 (21:00, Movistar LC) and his club shows him as the most precious value of his international image. But Joaquín doesn’t want just that. At almost 42 years old, he wants to be the protagonist. “It’s a privilege to play here at the age of 41,” he admitted at the pre-match press conference. Manuel Pellegrini could place him as a starter. “I don’t think it could be my last visit to a ground like Old Trafford,” he added.
That February 2004, two representatives of Manchester United showed up at Lopera’s offices to offer the top Verdiblanco leader a high proposal. The then president did not close the operation due to the doubts of the footballer, one of the revelations of Spanish football in those years. Joaquín had a contract until 2010 and he felt happy at Betis. He was much closer to leaving when in December 2004 José Mourinho went to Seville to convince him and get him to Chelsea.
Lopera had agreed to the operation, for around 20 million pounds (about 23 million euros), but Joaquín decided not to finally accept it. It was the only time that Mourinho traveled to sign a footballer and was met with the refusal of the then young player, who would later play for Valencia, Málaga and Fiorentina, before returning to Betis.
Joaquín’s legendary career is enhanced by the competitiveness of the captain, who considers that he should play more games due to the level of play that is still maintained. “I am one of those who trusts, shows and waits, but I also know how to keep quiet, go away and not waste time,” the winger wrote on social networks in the middle of last month, sparking all kinds of rumors.
A non-conformist, the Verdiblanca legend is not getting along well with the few minutes he is playing in his 23rd season as a professional. And for Pellegrini, technical helmsman, it is not an easy situation to carry out.
Joaquin is right. He is here to play more minutes, ”the coach acknowledged. There are two aspects that should be known when analyzing the behavior of the Andalusian footballer. The first, that despite his jovial appearance, he is a born competitor, who does not accept playing so little; second, that he is obsessed with reaching Zubizarreta as the footballer with the most matches in the First Division. The Basque goalkeeper reached 622 (from 1981 to 1998), while Joaquín has 615, the last against Madrid. The portuense plays less this season than last. He has participated in 17 games (11 in the League), although he has only started five games in the Europa League, one in the League (against Cádiz) and another in the Cup (against CD Ibiza). Last year, at this point in the course, he was already 21.
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