Now, I’m all for someone just taking opportunities when they come, especially when any financial gain involved doesn’t directly negatively impact other people. But this …
Strictly speaking, Carlos Tevez’ move to China with Shanghai Shenhua didn’t really come as much of a shock to people who understood how football worked. After all, when you or I come closer to retirement, we’d love to put that expertise and knowhow to good use to make that end to our career as enjoyable and fruitful as possible?
Well, fortunately for the most elite footballers out there, the game presents itself with a similar avenue for when they want to settle into a world away from training and games. They come in the form of nouveau riche leagues in areas of the world antonymous with the level of football expected throughout the lion’s share of their career.
Think: China, India, Russia and … to some degree … the precursors to USA’s Major League Soccer.
Obviously, in order to attract that ‘marquee‘ appeal, you have to be good at what you do. So there’s no debating the fact that Carlos Tevez was a very talented football player. In fact, speaking as a Manchester United fan, it still leaves a slightly sour taste in my mouth that things didn’t work out differently for the Argentine during his two-year spell at Old Trafford before he moved permanently to our neighbours.
It was his determination that stands out for me, but looking back, he was a very natural goal-scorer. Someone who could just get their head down, aim towards the net and not mess about with how he wanted it to get there. Even if he was two yards out, you could bet your bottom dollar he’d be rifling it home to make sure of the outcome.
His succeeding spells with Manchester City and Juventus led to that ‘maybe I should get some of that sweet retirement money before I get too old’ situation. And Shanghai Shenhua was a name known to many fans with their previous projects of bringing the likes of Anelka and Drogba on big-money deals to relocate to China.
“It was a weird situation. Shanghai Shenhua had qualified for the preliminary rounds of the Asian Champions League. They had a new manager, Gus Poyet, and Carlos Tevez was signed. With a new coach and a superstar player allied to everything the club already had … they’ve been Chinese champions—the hope was that they would kick on. But they started the season on a downer.”Michael Church – freelance journalist based in Hong Kong (2018)
In short, things appeared to be ideal to their ambitions in the CSL (and in terms of building a brand), but they were confronted with a player and situation whose own drives didn’t really match up well with what they wanted.
Despite scoring on his debut and overall looking bright during his time in the Chinese league, Carlos Tevez’ time in a Shanghai Shenhua shirt would be marred by his clear decision to take their money without committing to their long-term project. On the face of it, it would appear that the aforementioned stars who preceded his arrival probably felt a similar way, but only someone like Tevez would have the gaul to say it aloud.
Going on to reflect on his time in China as a ‘holiday‘ and bringing some clarity to the speculation as to why he joined, Tevez received a handsome pay-check from the club – reportedly being around $40 million – before ending his career how he truly wanted to do so back home with Boca Juniors; where he’s still based today.
Whether you agree with his intentions is one thing, but the fact is, he capitalised on an opportunity presented to him, was clear about his direction and was able to benefit from it. Fair play to him, tbh – most of us would do it!