Nicolás Miremont –
On November 21, the Brazilian version of the popular site, Yahoo Sports, released an article that, based on a weak rumour, speculated about a supposed offer made by the Chinese Super League (CSL) club, Shanghai Shenhua Football Club, for the services of Boca Juniors’ striker Carlos Tévez.
At first, these rumours were not taken seriously by the media, the fans or the club. This is understandablefor, although the CSL has gained a fair amount of credibility over the past year due to its financial power, no one thought that they would target Carlos Tévez. As Manuel Veth explained in his recent article, one of their strategies relies on Brazilian talent in order to achieve a better standard of quality in their league.
Apart from this, the Apache had already rejected two offers from their city neighbours Shanghai SIPG: one before he left Juventus and another one back in February. The latter included a $25 million wage for 10 months. Tévez, instead, chose to remain loyal to the club he loves.
As the days went by, however, the gossiping became relentless. The media began to mention the topic over and over again. The number involved is unimaginable. We have already witnessed the astronomical sums paid for Hulk, Jackson Martínez and Alex Teixeira during last winter’s transfer window.
Some information on Shanghai Shenhua F.C.
Shanghai Shenshua F.C. is a professional football club that has played in the Chinese Super League since 1993. Their distinctive name comes from a sponsorship deal signed with a local enterprise named ‘Shenshua’ back in its foundation year. This, according to their history, allowed them to become one of the pioneer clubs when it comes to gaining independence from the governmental association.
After 2007, the owner of their city rivals Shanghai United F.C. acquired the majority of Shenshua and, amazingly, merged the two clubs but kept the name Shenshua.
Fast-forward to the present: the giant state-owned Greenland Group have taken over at the club as its official owners. This has meant another name change, this time to “Shanghai Greenland F.C.”. The name “Shanghai Greenland Shenshua F.C.”, however, is still being used by the majority of its respected fan base.
The club have been crowned champions of their league twice (1995 and 2003) and are one of the first clubs that resorted to hiring foreign managers. This signalled a determined stake in the enhancement of their game, starting from their youth academies which are getting better and better with every passing year.
Shenshua offer €40 million for El Apache
As we mentioned before, the Chinese club have demonstrated that their offer is serious. Throughout November, both Poyet and Shenshua’s President Wu Xiaohui were interviewed by several sports media broadcasters and showed no hesitation in assuring that the deal “has advanced considerably”.
According to the local media, the Chinese club would be willing to pay €40 million for the transfer, while offering to pay €15 million for two or three seasons.
Meanwhile in the Boca World, news of this sort is not treated as the topic of jokes any longer. The lack of international success since Carlos Tévez arrived in 2015 and the number of scandals that have appeared within the club have put Boca in a less stable position when it comes to being able to fight off big money offers. Furthermore some players are not happy with Daniel Angelici’s policies—especially Tévez.
Eleven meridians to the east, the Chinese patiently wait for their offer to spread across the media. Days after following the rumour (and having almost laughed at it), the #FutbolgradNetwork handed me this Transnfermarkt link. This basically makes it official, and made my confident smile disappear.
The news that this offer is officially serious, set off alarm here in Argentina. Since Tevez’ return, the team has been eliminated from three Copa Libertadores—all of them embarrassment or scandalous. Moreover, Carlos Tévez is said to have dissagreed with most of the decisions made regarding player transfers in the squad. The President not only failed to bring in the players who Tévez, as a leader, considered suitable for the team, but also, amazingly, made very little effort to keep those who were seen as crucial both by the squad and by Tévez himself.
The Chinese are showing confidence about the deal: “We are negotiating with Tévez and we hope that we will be able to give our fans some great news in the near future”. The amount offered by them is tempting, to say the least. Their manager, Gustavo Poyet, spoke to SportsCenter on December 7 and, although he chose to remain cautious about it, he speculated on the way the Chinese team could make Tévez feel at ease after hypothetically moving to such an exotic destination. “He would not be alone. We already have Freddy Guarín and Gio Moreno. Besides, my assistant is Argentinian so he should be fine”.
Losing Tévez would be a disaster both for Boca and for Argentina
The Apache returned home after an almost 15 year successful career abroad in the summer of 2015.
It all began with a full La Bombonera. On a Monday, 50.000 souls turned up to witness the return of the ultimate Boca idol. From that day to the present, Tévez has showed how much the Old World has changed him. Interviews with him would always reach astronomical TV ratings.
Carlos Tévez was the impetus for a club revolution; after he arrived the dressing rooms were modernized, new social initiatives were introduced, and also training facilities were renovated.
Furthermore, Tévez’s return meant that other players were also willing to return to Argentina. Players like Tévez, Andrés D’Alessandro, Germán Denis, and Marco Rúben have brought a good amount of much needed prestige to our league. This is why I think the clubs should invest more time in learning from their returning players instead of making them unhappy.
Today, sadly, things have not transpired as expected for Tévez. Although far from critical, Boca Juniors’ competitive status is not the best. Their last chance of qualifying for the 2017 Copa Libertadores vanished three weeks ago when Boca lost to Rosario Central in the semi-finals of the Copa Argentina. Moreover, this could mean that Boca’s biggest rival, River Plate, might clinch that spot in case they overcome an always-difficult to play Rosario.
This lack of competitive football, in addition to River Plate’s success, have affected Boca’s morale in the same way it would affect any big team in the world. A player like Tévez, who is amazingly at his full potential despite being 32, might eventually become tired of defending a badge that has for years been in the middle of every scandal without winning a single relevant trophy.
Tévez’ point of view on the matter
Tomorrow, Carlos Tévez is giving a press conference prior to the Superclásico, where he will inevitably have to express some of his thoughts. The player himself has already asked his manager to analyse the offer.
“Money can’t buy happiness. That is why I came back. This is my home and here fortunately I won’t have to speak either English or Italian”, he said before kissing La Bombonera’s grass during his presentation at the club. The bond that unites Tévez and his native Argentina goes far beyond a football team. He has also expressed countless times that returning would allow him to retire in Boca and also that it would provide his daughters with the chance to grow up and go to school in Argentina.
Over the last couple of months, however, Carlitos seems to have transformed from an offer-rejecting machine to a person with a head full of tortured thoughts. Back in July, after being eliminated from the Libertadores in an embarrassing two-legged affair against Independiente del Valle, Tévez stated in a press conference that he would meditate about his future.
Some weeks later, after he broke our hearts by implying that he was going to retire in order to become a golf player, he ended all rumours by making clear that he would not think about that anymore because he loves Boca and he would like to retire there.
Tévez seems to be thinking carefully about his decisions. Let’s be honest, €40 million with a wage of €15 million per season would make any of us think twice. In addition, there is a rumour that Tévez asked the Chinese club to sign Ramón ‘Wanchope’ Ábila (Tévez’ friend and a great striker who emigrated to Cruzeiro after Angelici failed to sign him) and Fernando Tobio (Tévez’ favourite centre back, which Angelici let go and then had to bring back after pressure from the fans).
Boca will have to be extremely careful
While Tévez has the last word in this affair, back at the club everyone has already run out of nails to bite. His departure would definitely put most of the associates against Angelici, who won the election partly because he “brought Tévez back”. Apart from that, it would unleash a state of immense crisis within the institution.
Angelici has already given his opinion and seemed eager to make clear that “if Carlitos was to leave, we would be talking about his retirement”. Yesterday, though, he referred to the sensitive topic by stating that Boca does not sell players before the end of the season. In fact, they never have, and that might be a good thing in this case. Boca have recently recovered their great form and this should convince Tévez to stay, at least until the end of his contract in July.
The fans also play a part in this. This news motivated a lot of supporters to craft flags with messages saying “Please don’t leave” and “You are the best!” and also have been very active on Twitter about it. Tévez’ devotion for his fans might become a useful weapon to fight the Chinese giants.
China, a tempting yet difficult destination
There are three common ways of convincing someone to do something: motivation, violence or money. Living in China can be very difficult for those of us who were born in the Western Hemisphere. This is why they offer these amounts of money, to compensate for the loss of the players’ way of life and the lack of competitive football. Everything from food to politics takes a drastic turn, and not everyone manages to adapt to it.
Today I watched a new instalment of the popular chat show 90 Minutes of Fútbol on television. Sitting at the studio was Emmanuel Gigliotti, one of Boca’s former strikers who recently decided to give China a go. Gigliotti explained, to the hosts, the not-so-glamorous part of living in China.
“It can be difficult to keep track of the things you are interested in, for the Internet does not always function properly. Not to mention the restrictions! Speaking about football, the CSL does not have a big number of teams, which can lead to a lack of competition. For example, the province where my team is based in (Chongqing) only has one professional football team for 35 million people. This is why, during pre-season in the cold winter, we are forced to move to countries like Japan in order to play pre-season friendlies to test ourselves. As for the society, it is not the same. You feel alone. If it hadn’t been for my girlfriend, I would have been completely alone last year”
Carlos Tévez – Will he leave?
We will have to wait until Thursday’s press conference to hear what the Apache has to say to everyone. His contract ends in July and, despite the current situation, Carlos Tévez must be making an immense effort to ignore all the bad things surrounding him. He loves this place, he loves Boca, and that cannot be changed.
Life was not easy for him. After being one of the few kids who made it out of the slums, where drugs, violence and felony ruin people’s lives, part of his career in Europe was full of sadness as he felt uneasy in Europe, where things are very different from here. Moving to China would mean a sacrifice for the Tévez family, and I do not think they are willing to make it at this stage of their lives.
Tévez was an actual blessing for our football. However, he is still a professional who could be playing for Atlético de Madrid, Juventus, Corinthians or some Chinese club but chose to come here where he has to deal with the disrespectful press and the decisions of some superiors which seem to be anything but beneficial.
Intentionally or because of utter negligence, Boca, however, seems to be doing everything in its power to push Tévez away from the club…