TO sign, or not to sign?

That was the question for Rodrigo Riquelme this summer as Cherries joined a host of clubs in a battle to secure his services.

The 20-year-old’s previous visit to England came as a schoolboy as he took in sights such as Shakespeare House and Big Ben, but he is now set for a longer stay having completed a season-long loan deal from Atletico Madrid earlier this month.

Cherries also have the option to make the move permanent next summer.

Riquelme came through the academy at Atleti, featuring twice for the first-team last season. He reportedly penned a fresh four-year deal with his boyhood club over the summer, but is now ready to tackle the Championship.

“I came here to improve my football, to be a man and that’s it,” Riquelme told the Daily Echo.

“I’m very happy to be here. All the club, the staff and my team-mates make me feel very good. I have the same feeling that I had at Atletico Madrid.

“I’m very grateful for it and I’m very happy.”

Bournemouth Echo:

Asked how the move to Cherries materialised, the Spaniard added: “I was really surprised because I know that Bournemouth is a very good club in England.

“They had five years in the Premier League. I was really surprised the first time they came to my agent about me. I have things really clear and I want to be here.

“Okay they went down to the Championship, but as a team they have all the things to get promoted. It’s a place that the style of football is similar to mine.

“We studied all the things, the type of coach, all of the things made me choose this option.”

Riquelme, who prefers to play centrally or on the left wing, had previously in the summer spent around a month training at fellow Championship club Reading, who had hoped to sign the attacker.

“I have to say to Reading, thank you very much, of course,” he said.

“They helped me to be fit, but in football all can happen. I want to be here, so I’m here.”

Having spent all his previous career in Spain, life in England will take some getting used to for Riquelme.

Recalling his last visit to the country, Riquelme said: “I went with school.

“I went to Stamford to see the Shakespeare House and I went to see Big Ben, the London Eye, Trafalgar Square and it’s a very beautiful city.”

He added: “Now I’m in a hotel and Diego (Rico) lives like two minutes away. He takes me to the training ground and in the dressing room I am close to Jefferson (Lerma).

“They make me feel easier in this new country, the new weather, the new type of football. But I feel very happy.

“I was really surprised because all the people told me in England it’s always raining and bad weather! Okay, it’s not like in Spain, but here in Bournemouth it’s good.

“The town is very, very nice, the beach of course. I like it a lot. When I have my house, probably I’m going to enjoy the town better.”

Bournemouth Echo:

And Riquelme is also looking forward to linking up with some familiar faces to explore his new surroundings.

“I’m with my father in one hotel, my brother and my mum are in another hotel because my mum and my brother came one week ago so they have to pass the quarantine,” he explained.

“So they have to stay in the hotel one week more and then we can be together.

“My father loves golf. He said ‘in England I’m going to play golf all the time, every day’.

“He wants me to start playing golf, but I like pool very much, ping pong, basketball – I like all the sports. I have to buy or to do something to make this new home more comfortable.”

For now, Riquelme’s focus is on making his Cherries debut. Just a day after signing, he travelled with the squad for their Championship clash against Coventry City at St Andrew’s, but was unable to feature due to international clearance for his transfer not coming through in time.

However, he is now raring to go and hopes to be involved against QPR at Vitality Stadium tomorrow (3pm).

“I don’t know what happened in that moment, but I’m relaxed,” said Riquelme when asked about not being allowed to play the last game.

“I think my debut is going to be better here in the stadium of Bournemouth, at home. So it’s perfect.

“I can improve the team with the Spanish philosophy like for example Diego Rico or Jefferson Lerma. In Spain the football is totally different, here it is more physical.

“But we think that if we put that philosophy in the group, all the football cultures mix and we are going to have a very good season I’m sure.

“Myself, I said to the fitness coach, give me a special job in the gym to get fitter and stronger!”

He continued: “All my team-mates told me here in England it’s physical.

“I know but I’m going to see it maybe tomorrow, if God wants.”