riquelmeAfter months of speculation, Palmeiras are reportedly closing in on signing Juan Roman Riquelme.

For the sake of both the player and the club I hope the deal doesn’t go through.

Palmeiras will play in the second division this year but have also qualified for the Copa Libertadores. They need a big squad with players who can perform over what will be a long and grueling campaign and who will stand up and be counted.

Riquelme is 34 and hasn’t played professional football since July when he fell out with Boca Juniors.

He is clearly not a player who will be able, much less willing given his attitude over the years, to put his heart and soul into every game. He has a history of clashing with teammates and managers throughout his glorious career. He is certainly not a player you build your team around.

Not because he isn’t talented. Fewer Argentines have shown as much deftness with a ball at their feet that mercurial No. 10.

But Palmeiras need a leader, with experience, character and stamina.

That the club’s directors think Riquelme is that man goes a long way to explaining how they’ve driven the club into the ground over the last 10 years.