He said: "I loved the signing. The problem is that here, there are four people in charge of transfers and all four must be in agreement for something to happen.

"In the end, after two days of discussions, we decided the signing would be too dangerous. We qualified for the UEFA Cup, yet all the coverage was about Riquelme."

Aguirre accepts there could be protests from Atletico fans today over the failed deal.

"We'll have to wait and see what happens during the game. I just hope to play well and beat Mallorca.

"There was nothing official. Neither (president) Enrique Cerezo nor (director) Miguel Angel Gil Marin informed me that the transfer was complete. I'll tell you this: no-one will be able to find any record of Javier Aguirre rejecting the signing."