It was always going to be a Roman summer.
Juan Roman Riquelme has already brightened June with his displays for Boca Juniors. Three goals in two games against Gremio helped Boca win the Copa Libertadores and confirmed his place as the most technically gifted player currently plying his trade in South America.
Now, the enigmatic midfielder is performing similar feats for his country. Two goals last night in a sublime display against Peru, following a similarly effective performance against Colombia in the 4-2 win. Messi might be the one girls scream at, but Riquelme is the man football fans are watching.
Riquelme has looked at ease in this Argentina team. Manager Alfio Basile has placed him at the head of a diamond formation in midfield and put runners around him (Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Mascherano). That has allowed him to do what he does at Boca, which is amble around and wait for the water carriers to supply him so he can turn it into wine.
Riquelme has also looked at ease off the pitch. He is notorious as a overindulgent, sometimes even childish, melancholic. He never settled in Europe because he was unable to adapt to the stricter norms of comportment at senior clubs. At Boca, he was given leeway to do what he wanted when he wanted off the park, as long as he performed on it.
But here in Venezuela he has looked content, even happy. Argentine came into the tournament beset by personnel problems but the group has appeared united and Riquelme has looked at home, smiling, even joking at press conferences.
Not since Argentina won the World Cup in 1978 have they gone so long without winning a major trophy. If Riquelme continues to turn it on like last night, that drought will soon end.