Boca Junior fans are hoping that a lethargic spell in the Chinese Super League won’t hinder a third spell at the club for Carlos Tevez
Even when Shanghai Shenhua made Carlos Tevez one of the best paid players on the planet as the age of 32, there was always the sense that his story with Boca Juniors was not quite over yet and so after a year of relative inactivity in China, it is little surprise that the jugador del pueblo is heading back to La Bombonera.
Tevez’s agent Adrian Ruocco and a legal team met with Shanghai Shenhua representatives in Spain this week in an attempt to resolve the matter and agreed to the termination of his contract, allowing the forward to rejoin Boca for a third spell at the club and begin training.
It is understood that Boca have paid $3 million, half of Tevez’s release clause from Shanghai Shenhua so that the 33-year-old is free to resign.
Carlos Tevez already training with his Boca teammates: "I never left."
Think Shanghai Shenhua probably agree pic.twitter.com/eEGXuTo1bZ
— Peter Coates (@golazoargentino) January 6, 2018
It may not be the same circumstance than when Tevez packed out La Bombonera to be announced after ditching European football to come back from Juventus in 2015 and there are new questions to answer after the player’s apparent lack of effort in China but Carlitos returning is a massive boost.
Boca sit top of the Superliga but prepare for a 2018 in which they will need to balance Copa Libertadores commitments and with the desire to lift a record equalling seventh title, Daniel Angelici is overseeing a transfer window of incredible strengthening.
With Ramón Wanchope Ábila, Julio Buffarini and Emmanuel Mas already in and more tipped to join, the return of Tevez will be the one that will really catch the eye.
That, despite spending most of 2017 on the sidelines, after injuries and a lack of fitness restricted Tevez to just 16 league appearances for Shanghai Shenhua.
Angelici is unperturbed by this fact: “If he returns, I have no doubt that he will be better than the first time he came back. He will be 100 percent. I know him well, I know how professional he is.”
The return is no longer a question of if. Whether Tevez will be better than when he came back in 2015 is another matter.
— Boca Jrs. Oficial (@BocaJrsOficial) January 6, 2018
The reason supporters came out in such numbers to welcome Tevez home was not only because he was one of their own and had been part of a hugely successful side between 2003-04 but because the forward had just scored 20 league goals as Juventus won a fourth Serie A title and had reached the Champions League final.
He could have gone anywhere in Europe but chose to come back.
His impact was almost immediate scoring nine goals in fifteen matches to drag Boca to a league and cup double and in the process becoming the first footballer to win two domestic league and cup doubles in one calendar year.
The following season was less positive as Tevez grew frustrated with Argentina’s media and the Argentinian Football Association after being banned for verbally abusing a referee but despite the disappointment of crashing out of the Copa Libertadores to Independiente del Valle, Tevez ended on a high with a Superclásico-winning brace.
Some of Boca’s supporters were not best pleased by their idol’s decision to take the Chinese money and will remember the words he said shortly after that memorable victory over River when Shanghai Shenhua’s interest was already known.
“An idol of Boca is in the bad times and good times. I can’t leave if Boca isn’t playing in the Libertadores, take the money and return when Boca is already qualified for the Libertadores. Boca fans are not like that.”
All will be forgotten if Tevez can find his best form and lead Boca to the title and Daniel Angelici is certainly doing his utmost to ensure Guillermo Barros Schelotto has the squad to do it.
An already impressive group that has been unchallenged at the top for a year with the financial clout to keep hold of their star players has added real quality. Former San Lorenzo full backs Buffarini and Mas, won the Libertadores with Boca’s city rivals in 2014, possible arrival Gustavo Gómez was a Primera winner with Lanús and Wanchope Abila will be a more than capable number nine in the absense of Darío Benedetto.
Rumours linking with Nicolas Gaitán and Emanuel Reynoso with moves and the eventual returns of Benedetto and Fernando Gago from injury could see Boca boast the most formidable squad in South America for many years.
How Barros Schelotto will satisfy such a group will be interesting but Tevez will almost certainly take centre stage. The two prior spells brought huge success to the club can number three be equally fruitful?