BUENOS AIRES - River Plate have decided to
dispense with brilliant but troubled former Argentina forward
The 36-year-old veteran of three World Cups, who has a
drinking habit, missed Wednesday's first practice of the summer
recess, turning up on Thursday but slinking away without
speaking to reporters.
"It's true Ortega won't be staying at River," a club source
who asked to remain anonymous told Reuters.
"They told me they would not be taking me into account,"
Ortega was later quoted as saying on the sports daily Ole's
website when asked whether he would be part of
the team for the championship starting next month.
"I've got to speak to (club president Daniel) Passarella to
discuss rescinding my (contract)," added Ortega.
Local media said coach JJ Lopez had told Ortega he was not
in his plans for the Clausura, the second of two championships
in the 2010/11 season, due to the forward's "lack of commitment
to the team".
Ortega, who played at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cups,
was in his fourth spell at River, the club where he made his
first division debut in 1991 and with whom he has won five
league and one South American titles.
His 1998 World Cup was marred by head-butting Netherlands
goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar and being sent off in a
He saw only limited action in the Apertura championship
between August and December with weak performances and
occasional absenteeism from training. River finished in fourth
place 14 points behind winners Estudiantes.
A temperamental, skilled ball player nicknamed 'Burrito'
(little donkey) with mesmerising dribbling and feints and
brilliant goals from chips and set pieces, Ortega played for
Valencia, Sampdoria and Parma during a not too successful spell
in Europe from 1997 to 2000.
He left River again to join Fenerbahce in 2002 but did not
stay long due to homesickness. He served a half-year suspension
and was ordered by FIFA to pay a huge fine for breach of
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