Riquelme agent reveals Arsenal desires

The agent of Argentinian midfielder Juan Roman Riquelme has admitted that Arsenal would be the player’s first choice were the North London club to make an offer.

Barry McIntosh claims that there is no shortage of interest in the former Barcelona playmaker, confirming that there are at least five English clubs in the hunt for Riquelme.

Whilst there is no offer from Arsenal on the table yet, the player’s representitive has revealed that the Gunners would be his first choice if Arsene Wenger feels the need for the Argentinian.

“There are at least five English clubs in the equation,” he said. “But for a foreign player of Riquelme's magnitude the lure of London is always going to be a deciding factor.

“Unless Arsenal come in, the most likely destination and the one Riquelme would be most interested in is West Ham.

"The challenge at West Ham and working besides the likes of Scott Parker and Thomas Hitzlsperger have been very important factors in him considering the move."

West Ham appear to be in the driving seat for the 31-year-old, who is currently plying his trade with Boca Juniors after stints in Europe with Spanish giants Barcelona and Villarreal.

But should the Gunners come in with an offer for the midfielder, Riquelme would have his heart set on a move to Emirates Stadium, according to McIntosh.

Arsene Wenger looks set on a move for free agent Joe Cole after the World Cup, but the potential departure of Cesc Fabregas could persuade the Gunners' supremo to search for experienced targets to replace the Spaniard.

Riquelme, who guided Villareal to a Champions League semi-final in their debut season in the competition in 2006, retired from international football after a disagreement with coach Diego Maradona.

Following three years in Argentina, he wants a return to Europe to secure a more lucrative salary before the final curtain falls on his career, and the vision of new West Ham owners David Gold and David Sullivan has interested Riquelme.

McIntosh added: "I think he'd like to be a part of the project of West Ham, and what David Sullivan and David Gold have got in mind for the future for the club, including the new stadium.

"In precise words, Riquelme has said that in terms of going to a club like Manchester United, it wouldn't really be an attraction to him because if he goes there they could win the Champions League - they've already done it - or they win the FA Cup - they've already done it.

"He wants to go to a club where he's going to make a mark."

By Joe Brewin and Saad Noor

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