Ricardo Quaresma, the prodigal son returns…

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Updated: July 16, 2015

Back in the summer of 2010 Beşiktaş shocked the world by bringing in two world class talents, one of which being Real Madrid legend Guti Hernandez, the other Ricardo Andrade Bernardo Quaresma.

While Guti was nearly 34 yers old already, Quaresma was yet to turn 27 at the time. His transfer from Internazionale for € 7,3 million shocked the football world.

Despite not having booked great success at either Inter Milan or Chelsea FC, the young Portuguese winger was still viewed by most football critics as an extraordinary talent.

Former assistant manager of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, Carlos Queiroz, had even once said that Quaresma was even more talented than Cristiano Ronaldo, both players from the Sporting Lisbon youth academy.

With both Cristiano Ronaldo and Ricardo Quaresma now having past the mark of 30 years on this planet, it is safe to say that Quieroz made a wrong judgement call. As Ronaldo became one of the best players in the history of football and Quaresma, despite his undeniable talent, has never truely managed to reach his potential.

F.C. Barcelona (2003-2004)

Quaresma started his career in the youth academy of Sporting Lisbon, at the age of 20 he made his first big transfer. He was sold to FC Barcelona for a fee of € 6,4 million. However, despite several promising performances at Barcelona he could not settle in and only a year later he joined FC Porto, after they had won the UEFA Champions League under José Mourinho and Barcelona were desperate to sign their playmaker Deco. Quaresma was involved in a player trade deal for Deco, Porto received € 15 million and the rights to Ricardo Quaresma’s contract, valued at € 6 million, for Deco on the 6th of July 2004.

F.C. Porto (2004-2008)

A deal which Porto did not end up regretting, as it was at FC Porto where Ricardo Quaresma’s career truely started to flourish. Quaresma’s pace, dribbling skill and flamboyant trivela’s and rabona’s earned him the love of the Porto fans and the admiration of football loving Europe.

It was at Porto where the Beşiktaş fans were first confronted with Ricardo Quaresma’s incredible skills. During the 2007-2008 UEFA Champions League campaign the Black Eagles faced FC Porto in the group stages of the competition. In a group with Marseille and Liverpool aswell the Black Eagles managed to total six points, after beating both Liverpool and Marseille in the Inönü stadium. Beşiktaş also played a good game against FC Porto at home and probably should have gotten something from the match, but Ricardo Quaresma decided otherwise as his 90th minute strike secured the 3 points for Porto with a 0-1 away victory. Quaresma’s performance both at the Dragão in Portugal and in the Inönü stadium made such a lasting impression on the fans of Beşiktaş that the Black Eagles did everything in their power to secure the Portuguese wizard’s signature two years later.

F.C. Internazionale and loan spell at Chelsea F.C. (2008-2010)

After an impressive performance in the 2007-2008 edition of the UEFA Champions League, Italian giants Inter Milan knocked on FC Porto’s door. The Italian employers of Luis Figo were looking for a successor to their Portuguese patron in midfield. Inter paid € 18,6 million and Vitor Pelé for Quaresma. As Figo’s destined successor, Ricardo Quaresma adopted the number ’77’ and the following season, when Luis Figo retired. Quaresma took Figo’s number 7 jersey. But despite a promising start, with only one goal in 32 appearances for Internazionale, Quaresma could not settle in at the San Siro. José Mourinho’s style did not suit the flamboyant winger and Inter loaned him off to Chelsea, coached by Guus Hiddink at the time.

But his short stint at Chelsea would not prove to be a success either, Hiddink did not rely on Quaresma for more than five games. As Quaresma was not eligeble for European football, due to participating in the Champions league with Inter, Hiddink did not want to rely on Quaresma in his team and gave him few chances to prove himself.

Beşiktaş J.K. (2010-2012)

In the summer of 2010, after winning the Champions League with Internazionale (although he was not included in the matchday squad and watched from the stands), Ricardo Quaresma returned to the Beşiktaş Inönü stadium for the first time in more than two years since playing there and scoring for FC Porto.

Beşiktaş purchased the rights to Ricardo Quarsma’s contract for € 7,3 million from Inter Milan and the then 26-year old Quaresma was greeted by more than 25.000 enthusiastic fans during his signing ceremony. Real Madrid legend Guti Hernandez was brought in around the same time and over the winter break, Quaresma’s fellow Portuguese internationals Hugo Almeida, Simão Sabrosa and Manuel Fernandes also joined the Black Eagles.

“I had many offers from other big clubs, but I came here to find my joy back in football, I came here for these amazing fans.”

Quaresma had an immediate impact at Beşiktaş, he scored his first goal for the Black Eagles at the Inönü stadium against Viktoria Plzen in the Europa League qualifiers. A classic Quaresma goal, with his trademark ‘trivela’. The Black Eagles easily saw off Plzen over the two legs to qualify for the group stages of the Europa League.

In his first season Quaresma managed to score eleven goals, five of which in the UEFA Europa League. Making him, untill Demba Ba came allong, the highest scoring foreigner for Beşiktaş in a single European campaign. Ricardo Quaresma would end up scoring 11 goals and assisting 16 more in 39 matches during his first season for the Black Eagles. In his first season he was driven and hungry, he did not play as much for himself as he did for the fans. Sometimes, this would escalate, his desire to win would negatively effect his performance. In the sense that he sometimes took unnecessary cards, getting him suspended before important games. In the Europa League, he received a red card against Dynamo Kiev. After Beşiktaş dominated the game at the Inönü stadium, they got caught on the break four times. Quaresma was very frustrated by this, Beşiktaş played well but were left with a disappointing 1-4 scoreline. Quaresma could not bolster his frustrations any longer and received a completely unnecessary red card.

Bernd Schuster’s offensive playstyle fit Quaresma like a glove, unfortunately his high defensive line was something the defensive department of the team was not able to cope with and despite playing some of the best football in the league and getting far in Europe, the Eagles stranded on a disappointing fourth position in the league. Schuster was sacked, but the Black Eagles did end the 2010-2011 season with a prize as they saw off Istanbul BB in the Turkish cup final, under former player and captain Tayfur Havutçu.

Nevertheless an impressive debut season for the Portuguese trickster. Furthermore he was rewarded with the captain’s armband for the coming season after vice-captain Ibrahim Toraman and captain Ibrahim Üzülmez got in a spat with one-another, resulting in the 37-year old Ibrahim Üzülmez’ contract being terminated and Toraman being stripped of his armband.

Tayfur Havutçu had taken over from Bernd Schuster when he was sacked at the end of the previous season, but Havutçu did not remain at the club for long as he was accused of being involved in a match fixing scandal involving the Turkish cup final.

Beşiktaş appointed Carlos Carvalhal, former coach of SC Braga in Portugal as Havutçu’s “assistant” and temporarely replacement as Havutçu was on trial as part of the match fixing scandal and was not allowed to be involved with football for the duration of the trial.

While Schuster and even Havutçu seemed to demand the respect of Quaresma, it seemed as if Carlos Carvalhal was much less capable of coping with the star’s tricky personality. Not just Quaresma’s, but Carvalhal also didn’t know how to cope with that other big star: Guti Hernandez.

The relationship between the coach and his stars soured and despite a decent 2011-2012 season with 7 goals and 11 assists in 34 appearances, Quaresma’s story seemed to be drawing to a close at Beşiktaş.

It seemed as if Manuel Fernandes had a bad influence on the rest of the Portuguese ‘clique’. Fernandes having a reputation of enjoying the ‘nightlife’ scene and seemingly dragging his friends with him to the Istanbul nightclubs.

When the bomb of the Turkish match fixing scandal burst and Beşiktaş board member Serdal Adali and Tayfur Havutçu were put on trial, president Yildirim Demirören (who is now the president of the Turkish Football Federation) abandoned ship, emergency elections were held and Fikret Orman took over as Beşiktaş club president.

Demirören had taken over as Beşiktaş club president in the summer of 2004 and in 8 year as the club’s president he had spent all of the club’s money. Most of it on pointless transfers that never had any major impact. Quaresma being an exception to that. While in 2004 Beşiktaş was the most financially stable club in Turkey, appart from Gençlerbirligi, and the only club of the “big four” who did not have major debt issues. In 2012 Beşiktaş had nearly $ 230 million in debt.

Fikret Orman and his administration were tasked with resolving the club’s financial issues, a first step towards that was the “FEDA” season, the season of sacrifice. During the 2012-2013 season all players were asked to either take a pay cut, or leave the club.

Many players obliged, they took paycuts. Other players did not agree and went elsewhere. Quaresma, who was had the highest wage at the club at the time with € 3,75 million in guaranteed wages, was also asked to take a paycut. He was offered a contract of € 2,5 million per season, with the very favourable taxes in Turkey (only 15% as opposed to 45-47% in other European leagues) that was still a decent offer, and still a very high wage for Beşiktaş to be able to pay.

But Ricardo Quaresma did not accept, Quaresma felt he was not being treated fairly by the board. And perhaps he wasn’t, Quaresma was the posterboy of the Demirören era. He was the one thing which Demirören had done right, apart from his extravagant wages. Quaresma was the big transfer, that didn’t “bomb”, that didn’t flop.

But Quaresma was also a difficult personality for the coach to handle, Carvalhal was not retained as Beşiktaş coach for the 2012-2013 season and was replaced by Samet Aybaba.

Due to the problems which had already been had with Quaresma and the previous coach Carvalhal, several board members made negative commments about Quaresma in the media prior to asking him to take a 33% paycut.

Quaresma made it clear, he would not take a paycut if they could not treat him with respect. Quaresma definitely made mistakes, he did not always act as a professional should, but at the same time the new administration also made mistakes. Fans were devided, most sided with Quaresma while others sided with the board, but all were in agreement. Quaresma, just like all the others, had to take a paycut in favour of the club. It was simply the way things were handled, most fans did not like the smearcampaign in the media against Quaresma and resented the board for this.

Whether Quaresma would take a paycut or not, it should not have been smeared out in the media, it should have been discussed behind closed doors. The board made it impossible for Quaresma to agree to a paycut after all the negative things which had been said about him in the papers.

Samet Aybaba was tasked with dropping Quaresma from the squad, untill either he signed a new deal or would be sold.

While Beşiktaş had received offers of up to € 15 million for Quaresma the prior summer, Quaresma’s market value had now plumitted. Clubs didn’t want to burn their hands on the “difficult to handle” Quaresma.

And, during the winter break of the 2012-2013 season, after six months of wasting away with the reserves and being put on an individual training program. Quaresma’s contract was mutually terminated, he agreed to forget about the remainder of the wages owed to him and signed a lucrative deal in Qatar with Al Ahli. Quaresma entered through the front, but left… through the back door.

Return to F.C. Porto (2014-2015)

Quaresma spent less than a year in Qatar and in January 2014 he signed a new contract with his former club F.C. Porto.

Quaresma hit the ground running as he returned to the Dragão, making a total of 24 appearances during the second half of the 2013-2014 season. Scoring 10 goals and assisting 4 more. Now 30 years old, Quaresma was still clearly an exceptionally talented player. Flourishing again and showing great performances in both the Portuguese league and the Europa League.

During the 2014-2015 season Quaresma was featured in 40 games, scoring 10 goals and assisting 7 more. Including a brace in the first leg Quarter finals of the Chamions League against reigning European champions F.C. Bayern München in a stunning 3-1 victory for Porto. Showing Europe, that he’s still got it.

Despite showing signs of having matured and being one of the leaders on the pitch, and at times a top performer for F.C. Porto, Quaresma once again ended up having problems with his coach. As Benfica won their second successive championship in Portugal, frustration in Porto’s camp grew high. Quaresma critisized the current Porto squad for lacking some “mystique”, a statement which did not sit well with coach Lopetegui and it quickly became clear that Quaresma’s time at Porto was up.

Quaresma, who was called up once again to the Portuguese national team, was granted a few extra weeks of vacation as all Porto internationals, but Quaresma was also notified that he would not be required to make an appearance during Porto’s pre-season preperations.

On the 10th of July, Porto left for their training camp in Holland without Ricardo Quaresma.

Return to Beşiktaş J.K.

Despite being unwanted at the Dragão, Quaresma still has plenty of options. Russian giants Spartak Moscow and Turkish side Bursaspor were willing to offer Porto a transfer sum of up to € 6 million according to reports in Portugal. But Quaresma rejected both moves, he is not willing to go and play in Russia and when it comes to Turkey he would only be willing to play for his old love Beşiktaş.

Beşiktaş fans never forgot about Quaresma, his departure to this day is still one of the major points of critisim of the Fikret Orman administration. Despite doing what is necessary for the long term financial security of the club and making a lot of tough and unpopular decisions, Orman’s administration while critisized is still respected for the work they’ve done. But the way they handled Ricardo Quaresma, for many fans, even Orman’s biggest supporters to this day is a sour note. One of his biggest mistakes and one which many wished he had handled better.

Uppon learning about Quaresma’s situation with FC Porto, Beşiktaş fans started a massive “bring back Quaresma” campaign on social media.

Something which at first seemed to be met with little response from the club itself, but after realizing that his time at Porto was indeed up. Quaresma did the unthinkable and reached out to those who had shunned him more than two years earlier.

Beşiktaş president Fikret Orman said about Quaresma: “We made the right decision to let him go more than two years ago, his wages were simply too high for us. However, under these circumstances. Bringing him back is only logical.”. While Quaresma was making € 3,75 million per season between 2010 and 2012 at Beşiktaş, he would now come back for a fraction of that. somewhere between € 1,3 and 1,5 million per season.

Fikret Orman said, “Our fans love him, they want us to bring him back. Financially it makes sense for us to do so, if our coach wants him on the team. We will do what is needed to bring Quaresma back to Beşiktaş.”.

Beşiktaş coach Şenol Güneş followed this up by saying a few days later, “Quaresma is a quality player, I couldn’t say no to him. It’s up to the board whether or not the financial conditions are doable. It is their decision.”.

Despite Porto making it clear that they don’t have a place for him in next season’s squad, they still want a transfer fee for Quaresma. Who still has one year left on his contract.

Wednesday evening the two clubs reportedly reached an agreement, Beşiktaş will transfer € 1,6 million to the accounts of Porto and Quaresma will rejoin the Black Eagles on Friday, signing a two year deal.

The first time around, Quaresma said he chose to come to Beşiktaş for the fans. While signing a big € 3,75 million a year contract… but this time, he truely is coming for the fans. Quaresma has had his share of big paydays in his career, this time around he just wants to enjoy his football again. The same reason he returned to Porto for, money is no longer a priority for him and he is returning to feel at home at a club and to be important for the team and the fans.

Quaresma, despite having matured, will always be an enfant terrible. He will always need a coach with a firm hand, someone he respects. Hopefully Şenol Güneş can be this coach, this mentor for him. Quaresma has unfinished business at Beşiktaş and that’s why he is returning instead of opting for another payday in Russia.

There are those who say Quaresma flopped at Beşiktaş, those people clearly did not watch him. Leaving a club the way he did does not mean you flopped, plenty of players have left clubs on bad terms with the leadership. That does not mean a player flopped. Quaresma’s statistics speak for themselves, his goals and assists speak for themselves. Quaresma was successful at Beşiktaş.

But as always fans and media expect impossible things from a “star player” like Quaresma. They expect these players to lead a team to the title on their own, a player doesn’t win prizes, a team does. Not even Messi or Ronaldo do it on their own.

I think that today’s Beşiktaş has more quality than the team of 2010-2012. Hopefully Quaresma can contribute to the team in a positive way.

 

 

– Kaan Bayazit

 

 

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Kaan Bayazit

Editor-in-chief at Beşiktaş International
Freelance sports writer specialized in Turkish football and Beşiktaş. Co-host of the Black Eagles podcast. Frequently featured in World Soccer Digest Japan and many other international media outlets. Following Turkish football for close to two decades. Proud father to Aedin.
Kaan Bayazit
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