The rise and fall of Ricardo QuaresmaIf I told you that there was a talented Portuguese winger of the early 2000s from the Sporting Lisboa academy that was bound for glory and that there were a lot of expectations for him after signing for a big European club in 2003, you would logically think of Cristiano Ronaldo. But today's protagonist started out with a similar journey, although his ending was very, very different.
Ricardo Quaresma was one of the most promising Portuguese talents of his time, but he never managed to fully live up to the expectations that were bestowed upon him. Talented, with fast pace, a lot of skills and most commonly known as the master of the "trivela" pass, Quaresma accomplished a lot in his career, but a lot of people believe that he never was as good as he promised.
Stylish Ricardo Quaresma
So, what happened in Quaresma's career? We are going to dive in and find out.
Portugal, Spain and Portugal againBorn Ricardo Andrade Quaresma Bernardo in September 26th of 1983 in Lisbon, Portugal, he made his professional debut for one of the biggest clubs in the nation, Sporting Lisboa, in 2001 at the age of 17. He was part of the Sporting Lisboa side that did the league and cup double in the 2001/02, slowly making a name for himself.
Quaresma also developed a friendship with Cristiano Ronaldo as they were in a similar age group and had a lot of things in common, becoming two of the most promising wingers in Portugal at the time. This naturally led to a lot of big clubs in Europe showing interest in their services.
Ronaldo, as we all know, signed for Manchester United in the summer of the 2003 and the rest is history. Quaresma, on the other hand, signed for FC Barcelona, who were going through a rebuild process with new manager Frank Rijkaard and new president, Joan Laporta.
The truth is that the Portuguese youngster never got going at the Camp Nou, rarely starting any games and only scoring one goal in 28 matches across all competitions. An injury kept him from playing with the Portugal national team in the 2004 Euros held in home soil, and he refused to play for Barcelona again, signing for FC Porto that very same summer.
His time in Portugal, from 2004 to 2008, is widely regarded as Quaresma's peak as a player. It is where he became known to most football fans and his combination of tricks, skills and goal contributions made him one of the most entertaining players to watch out there. He won several trophies there and shared a dressing room with players that would go on to have important careers, such as Anderson at Manchester United and Pepe at Real Madrid.
Inter Milan flag
Inter, decline and starting once againFootball gave Ricardo Quaresma another opportunity at a big club when he was sold for 18 million Euros to Jose Mourinho's Inter Milan side in 2008. He was a more seasoned player and it seemed that he would now have the composure and know-how to fit on a top level club like the Italian team.
However, despite making his debut by scoring a goal in a 2-1 win, the reality is that Quaresma never really got going at Inter. Mourinho didn't give him a lot of starts, but whenever he was playing, he looked lackadaisical and out of place with the rest of the team. It seemed like a complete repetition of the events that transpired at Barcelona so many years ago.
He was eventually loaned to Premier League team Chelsea in January of 2009 and didn't play much, struggling to perform. And while he stayed with Inter in the 2009/10 season, winning the treble, the reality is that he didn't contribute much and his career was at an all-time low.
Starting to find comfortAfter the Inter fiasco, Ricardo Quaresma was not highly regarded in the market. He joined to Turkish team Besiktas, playing very well there for two seasons and becoming a fan-favorite, but he decided to join United Arab Emirates team Al Ahli in 2013, although he was released by the end of the season as Quaresma parted ways with his agent Jorge Mendes, the one that convinced him to join Al Ahli to begin with.
He would return to Porto, where he felt loved and valued once again, playing fairly decent football in those couple of seasons from 2014 to 2015, but he decided to sign for Besiktas once again, where he remained to 2019, finally gaining a degree of stability in his career.
Quaresma joined Turkish team Kasimpaşa for a season but decided to return to Portugal to play for Vitória de Guimarães. He spent two seasons there playing decent football, but decided to leave in the summer of 2022. As of this writing, he hasn't found a new team and he hasn't retired, either.
ConclusionIt is difficult to say that Ricardo Quaresma didn't have a good career. He won trophies, he played in some big clubs, won the 2016 Euros with Portugal, scoring a key goal against Croatia, and contributed to the success of clubs such as Porto and Besiktas. But there is always going to be an air of disappointment when looking back at his career.
This was a player that was hailed as just as good as Cristiano Ronaldo in their youth and never fully got going, failing to deliver the goods in Inter, Barcelona and Chelsea. It also seemed that, after the bad years at Inter, he decided to find a comfort zone in Turkey and Portugal, which worked for him, but it also showed that he wasn't going to try his luck at a big club anymore.
Ricardo Quaresma was a player that left a mark in football fans of the mid-2000s due to his tricks, his exciting play style and the bravado and confidence he showed with a football on his feet, but the reality is that he never fully lived up to the expectations.