Ricardo Quaresma, mission complete?

Updated: June 8, 2017

Beşiktaş fans young and old adore him, he is their Portuguese magician, they have re-embraced him in their hearts.

In fact, for most fans he never left their hearts. Ricardo Quaresma’s popularity has somewhat suffered during the end of his previous stint with Beşiktaş, but most fans did not blame him for what went down in 2012. In truth, he carried his part of the blame for his first stint at the club coming to an early and unhappy ending, but that doesn’t change the fact that most Beşiktaş fans continued to adore him.

When Quaresma first came to Beşiktaş in 2010 for a fee of €7,3m from Inter Milan, expectations were extremely high. Especially when Beşiktaş went on to also sign Real Madrid star Guti Hernandez and fellow Portuguese Internationals Hugo Almeida, Simão Sabrosa and Manuel Fernandes that following January.

But Quaresma & co did not bring the desired and expected success, Beşiktaş failed to win their 14th title in that period and had to settle for the Turkish cup in 2011, beating Istanbul Büyükşehir Belediyespor (now Istanbul Başakşehir) on penalties. Quaresma had scored the opening goal in that match, but it was cancelled out by an Ibrahim Akin penalty before heading in to the penalty shootout.

When Ricardo Quaresma first arrived, he was welcome by more than 20 thousand fans at the Inönü stadium to sign his contract.

One Turkish cup was a meager pay-off for the hefty financial investment Beşiktaş had to make to attract Quaresma, Guti, Almeida, Simão and Fernandes.

At the end of his tenure during his first stint Quaresma was labelled as a flop by many, but in reality he didn’t do all that bad. During his first season he was good for 11 goals and 16 assists in 39 appearances, far from deserving the label of a “flop”. But while his individual performance was quite good, the team simply couldn’t reach the aspired goals, with him as the star of that team he carried a big part of the responsbility for the team coming up short in the end.

But in his second season things started to go South, after Tayfur Havutçu was temporarily releaved of his duties due to his alleged involvement in the 2011 match fixing case, a new coach was brought in, the Portuguese Carlos Carvalhal.

A falling out with Carvalhal escalated in the dressing room with Quaresma verbally attacking Carvalhal and throwing a water bottle at his coach. This prompted the club to temporarily suspend him, although he later apologized this would signal the end of his first stint with the Black Eagles.

When current Beşiktaş president Fikret Orman took over the club, which was left in financial ruin by previous president Yildirim Demirören, he was tasked with cleaning house. The big contracts either had to go, or they had to take a significant paycut.

Guti Hernandez left the club, Simão Sabrosa and Fabian Ernst both did aswell. Ricardo Quaresma was asked to lower his wages from €3,75m to €2,5m, but the relationship between him and the board had soured early as the new board did not take too kindly to Quaresma’s attitude at the time.

After spending six months with the reserves, Quaresma and Beşiktaş finally decided to part ways during the January transfer window of the 2012-2013 season. Then Beşiktaş coach Samet Aybaba hadn’t utilized him once, Quaresma and Beşiktaş quietly decided to terminate their contract so he could head to Al Ahli in Dubai.

Quaresma spent less than a year in Dubai before returning to his former club FC Porto, where he revitalized his career. Quaresma seemed different during his second stint with Porto, having matured and showing less of his previous “superstar” behaviors. Still, Quaresma is and always will have an eccentric character. Despite showing a new, more mature, side of himself at Porto, he still ended up falling out with coach Lopetegui which fast forward to 2015 opened the doors to a Beşiktaş return.

Quaremsa on BJK TV upon his 2015 return.

Many fans were exhilarated at the idea of their fallen hero returning and so seemed Quaresma, stating that Beşiktaş was one of two clubs (the other being Porto) in his heart. The fans had left a lasting impression on him, the love he received from them was something he hadn’t forgotten. He came back on a mission, a mission he started and failed to complete when he first arrived in 2010: win the title with Beşiktaş and showcase the club in Europe.

Quaresma immediately helped Beşiktaş to the 2015-2016 Süper Lig title, although his role in the team was secondary to Mario Gómez, José Sosa and Oguzhan Özyakup. Quaresma wasn’t the star anymore as he had been between 2010 and 2012. He had a good enough season, gave a few key assists and scored a couple of good goals, but nothing overly spectacular.

When Mario Gómez and José Sosa departed the club that following Summer, Quaresma saw his chance to reclaim his role as star of the team and leader on the pitch.

His role in the 2016-2017 campaign was undoubtedly much bigger, playing a key role in Beşiktaş’ title victory and successful European campaign (reaching the Europa League quarter finals). With 6 goals and 17 assists in all competitions Quaresma was one of the more productive players on the squad helping the team to many important victories and also having a huge part in Beşiktaş’ 7 points in the Champions League group stages with 3 goals and 3 assists.

Since his return Beşiktaş have won back-to-back Turkish league titles, have done well in the Champions League group stages and have reached the quarter-finals in the Europa league, something they hadn’t managed since the 2002-2003 season.

Now, going on 34, Quaresma has fully redeemed himself and has finally lived up to his iconic status among Beşiktaş fans. With a potential move to China looming, could it be time for the final chapter in his career? Is it perhaps better to go out on top?

Always rising to the occassion in Europe, Ricardo Quaresma had a big hand in Beşiktaş’ 2016 Champions League success.

Many Beşiktaş fans don’t like the idea of Quaresma heading off in to the sunset yet again, but in the long run it might be the best thing for his legacy. Quaresma has finally earned his hero status in Istanbul, he has established himself as a legend of the Black Eagles. He has come back and he has helped Beşiktaş to their third star. What else is left for him to achieve with Beşiktaş?

Apart from reaching the next round in the Champions League or surprising Europa League victory, there isn’t much left for Quaresma to achieve at Beşiktaş. He has reached the pinaccle at Beşiktaş and perhaps shoudln’t overstay his welcome.

Despite all of his experience and having grown mature over the years, Ricardo Quaresma has and always will have a volatile personality. He doesn’t deal too well with being second choice, his teammates lovingly joke about his ego, they understand it as Quaresma has achieved much in his career. However, as long as he can match that ego with his performances, his teammates will tolerate it, his coach will tolerate it (to an extent). But as Quaresma ages, no matter how talented he is, he will reach a point where he won’t be the star anymore, where he won’t be the first choice anymore. That happened to him at Porto, he didn’t deal with it well.

So maybe, before he ever reaches that point at Beşiktaş again, with lucrative Chinese offers on the table. Perhaps it’s time for Quaresma to go on one last adventure and leave Beşiktaş as a hero, as a legend, forever lovingly remembered as their Portuguese magician.

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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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