Atletico Madrid playmaker Rodrigo Riquelme has revealed that he regards his loan spell at Bournemouth as the most important stage of his career.
The 22-year-old is currently enjoying his first extended experience of La Liga while on loan with newly-promoted Girona.
The creative midfielder has been provided with five starts in Spain’s top flight for a team who currently occupy a spot in mid-table.
However, Riquelme’s time in the professional ranks has not always been so encouraging, particularly after a year in the Championship with Bournemouth.
Riquelme, now a regular with Spain Under-21s, featured for just 326 minutes across 16 appearances, with only two of his outings coming from the starting lineup.
Having made two outings for Atletico during 2019-20, the experience was perceived to be a comedown for a player who retains hope of eventually making an impression at Wanda Metropolitano.
Nevertheless, Riquelme only has positive things to say about his stint at the Vitality Stadium, indicating that it gave him the added motivation that he required before returning to his homeland.
Speaking to Marca, Riquelme said: “They have been short steps, but I think they are the right ones. My time at Bournemouth helped me not so much football-wise but personally and mentally.
“Many of the things I do today, the automatisms I have for training, guidelines, food, are things that I picked up there.”
He added: “You get a reality check. You watch real football. There was a great team there with [Arnaut] Danjuma, [Dominic] Solanke, More accomplished than me.
“I learned a lot. Positive things come out of all the moments that are not so good, and you have to feed on that too.”
Riquelme, who has a contract at Atletico until 2028, also enjoyed a productive spell in the second tier with Mirandes in 2021-22.