Carlos Tevez has been problematical for every club, but especially so in China where the footballer has been nothing but an expensive failure

“Chinese players are not as naturally skilled like South American or European players, players who learned football when they were kids. They’re not good. Even in 50 years, they still won’t be able to compete.”

If Carlos Tevez is trying to win over the increasingly skeptical Chinese public, his latest missive on French television will have done little to smooth relations.

There can be no doubting that so far Tevez’s highly publicized switch to Shanghai Shenhua has been an utter failure in every respect, other than for the 33-year-old’s bank account. But it is with this astonishing $850,000 a week salary in mind, that makes the attitude of a man still referred to in certain parts of Argentina as ‘El Jugador del Pueblo’ (The player of the people) most distasteful.

When Tevez made his triumphant return to Boca in front of his adoring public at La Bombonera in June 2015 it was supposed that there would be no more big money transfers in a career that has gone from Argentina to Brazil, to England, to Italy and then home.

Tevez was still somewhere close to his peak after helping Juventus to the Serie A title and the Champions League final and told supporters: “I gave up a lot of money to come here and be happy, obviously I’ve come back to Boca to finish my career at the club that I love.”

However, after providing an initial lift that dragged Boca over the line to the Primera title, a frustrating 2016 transpired and when the offer from Shanghai arrived it was considered too good to turn down.

It hadn’t perhaps been the fairy-tale return that Tevez had dreamed of, a shock Libertadores defeat to Independiente del Valle saw to that, but El Apache had been central to a league and cup double and couldn’t really be criticized for taking such staggering money at an advanced stage of his career.

Besides, the door at La Bombonera was never really closed and a possible return one year into his two-year deal with Shanghai Shenhua was immediately discussed as an option. The Chinese club seemed happy enough with that but were at least expecting commitment for the time Tevez was on the books.

What Shanghai got began badly – a defeat to Brisbane Roar in an Asian Champions League play-off on Tevez’s debut – but has got much, much worse since.

New manager Wu Xiaohui said prior to Tevez’s most recent critique of the league: “Our intention was to bring in an influential star player with high quality, and we all think Tevez could fit the bill. However due to a lack of winter training and match fitness, he didn’t meet our expectations.”

Eleven starts and two goals is far from the dynamic, inspirational, attacking figurehead that Shanghai envisioned when they broke the bank to bring Tevez and while previous manager Gus Poyet may have been willing to give the Argentinian a free pass, Wu Xiaohui is clearly made of stronger stuff.

“He will be informed of my tactical plans but I won’t pick him right now. He’s not ready physically. He’s not fit to play. He is overweight. I have to take responsibility for the team and the players as well. If you are unable do your utmost to play, there’s no point in picking you.

“I have coached lots of big stars, and my players are never picked on reputation.”

Tevez’s response in rubbishing the league doesn’t suggest that Wu Xiaohui’s words will provide any motivation and it now seems only a matter of time before the widely publicized return to Boca is arranged.

‘Home-sickness’ or an unwillingness to integrate into his surroundings is something that has followed Tevez throughout his career but it would appear his lack of discipline and jaunts to Disneyland with the family rather than show any loyalty to the club have been enough for Shanghai Shenhua supporters to turn.

From his teenage move from All Boys to Boca, the dodgy switch to West Ham, making the controversial transfer across Manchester and then falling out with City and forcing a way out, Tevez has nearly always been a problem. Fans have forgiven him in most cases because when he got on the pitch, he gave everything but in Shanghai, it is all of the baggage without the good times.

With Boca back in the Copa Libertadores and aiming for a record-equalling seventh title, Tevez will likely get his second ‘dream’ return but Los Xeneizes should be wary. The club are in far better shape than when the veteran came back last time, the opposite can be said of Tevez, who has effectively had a sabbatical year, and it is difficult to look at Argentina’s champions and see where the 33-year-old would currently fit in.


The sentiment of bringing an old legend back to the club usually overrides such questions in Argentina but it is a serious question for manager Guillermo Barros Schelotto and President Daniel Angelici to ponder.

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