There's only one Carlos Tévez. With a move away from Old Trafford now almost a formality, several clubs continue to fight for the striker's much sought-after signature, making it one of the most long-running transfer sagas in recent history. The biggest loser is Manchester United, which hesitated in offering the Argentine star a permanent deal because his $37.5 million buyout fee seemed excessive.
Tévez did all he could to remain with the Red Devils, but he has been forced to look elsewhere. "El Apache" grew increasingly frustrated with how he had been treated by Man. United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, who overlooked him in several of United's key games last season, including the UEFA Champions League final (Tévez was a second-half substitute). Despite his impressive scoring ratio, Tévez had limited opportunities with the club, which has left him no choice but to turn his back on United and listen to other offers.
Like other talented South Americans, most notably Diego Forlán, Juan Sebastián Verón, Kléberson and Gabriel Heinze, Tévez has received unfair treatment from Ferguson. There's certainly an argument to be made that Ferguson doesn't know how to get the most out of the South American players he signs. Interestingly, most of these players went on to achieve wide success at other clubs after being shown the door at Old Trafford. Forlán is the prime example: Since leaving in 2004, he has gone on to win the European Golden Boot twice as the continent's top scorer. Tévez may follow in his footsteps.
Ferguson may have his reasons -- after all, he's one of the most celebrated managers in history -- but not everyone thinks alike. Tévez's contributions at United may not have convinced the Scotsman, but they impressed rival clubs who are willing to dish out large sums of cash in an attempt to sign him. While English clubs Manchester City, Chelsea and Liverpool are the frontrunners to secure his services, Real Madrid and Inter Milan have also joined the race.
No matter which of these clubs Tévez finally joins, he's destined to be successful. At United, he displayed why he is considered to be one of the most exciting attackers in the game. If he ends up signing for another Premier League club, he may have the opportunity to come back to haunt Man U. Tévez not only will be motivated by playing week-in, week-out, but a starting role at a competitive club, he'd improve his chances of earning a regular place with the Argentine national team. With the World Cup just around the corner this would be a smart move.
Here are Tévez's five most likely destinations, in order of their likelihood:
1. Manchester City. It seems as if Man. City is linked with pretty much everybody these days, and the club is confident about securing Tévez's services. What gives City the edge over other clubs is the fact that it has no financial constraints and, as was the case when it signed Brazilian striker Robinho from Real Madrid, it can make a giant offer for Tévez. Robinho has asked for the Argentine to join him at City, and the fact that the club is willing to pay the player a weekly salary of $230,000 (a 75 percent increase on his current salary) means a deal may be too good to refuse.
What reduces the chances of it happening, however, is that he may see such a move as a step backwards. City isn't a European powerhouse, and even if it does become the new version of Chelsea in the near future, Tévez wants instant success. Having won titles at Man. United, Boca Juniors and Corinthians, Tévez would prefer a bigger challenge. But money talks -- if City offers him a lucrative deal, Carlitos won't hesitate to accept it.
2. Chelsea. The Blues are in tatters and will be hoping to rebuild in order to be a force next season. For years, Tévez has been on Chelsea's agenda, and the club finally has a good shot. Earlier in the week, newly named manager Carlo Ancelotti reportedly called Tévez in an attempt to persuade him to move to Stamford Bridge. The new Chelsea boss is a fan of the Argentine, and Tévez was apparently "stunned to get the call from Ancelotti, but also very pleased." If Tévez were to sign for the west London club, he could be part of the most successful Chelsea side ever. Close ties between Tévez's agent, KiaJoorabchian, and club owner Roman Abramovich improve the chances of making this move happen.
3. Real Madrid. Despite saying he'd prefer to stay in England "because it is the best league in the world," Tévez has expressed his desire to play for Real Madrid. Los Merengues this month made the two biggest signings of the year, purchasing Cristiano Ronaldo and Kaká for a whopping $223 million. Now the Spanish club is focused on capturing a high-profile striker. With David Villa and Forlán now out of the picture, Tévez is its main target. He could be the latest addition of the "new" Galácticos, and an attacking partnership with compatriot Gonzalo Higuaín has the potential to be one of the deadliest in Europe.
Madrid's archrival Barcelona also showed an interest in el Apache, but that faded once the defending champions targeted Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With Barça now out of the race, Madrid is the non-English club with the greatest shot at snapping up Carlitos. But is Real willing to spend big money for him?
4. Liverpool. The prospect of Tévez moving to Anfield won't go down too well with Manchester United fans, but the reality is Liverpool would make much better use of his services. Rafa Benítez has stated that he's searching for a capable striker to complement Fernando Torres, and he believes Tévez meets all the requirements. Tévez is keen on staying in England, and a move to Liverpool would be ideal. Not only would he be guaranteed a starting role, but he'd be reunited with close friend Javier Mascherano, who not only shared the same dressing room with him at Corinthians and West Ham, but continues to do so with the Argentine national team. And with a one-two punch of Torres and Tévez up top, Liverpool would be a serious threat to win its first EPL title in 20 years.
5. Inter Milan. Inter has made a reputation for signing some of the best strikers in the game, and the club believes Tévez would be an instant hit at the San Siro. Although they claimed their fourth straight Serie A last season, the Nerazzurri are more concerned about finding European glory, and it needs talent for that. In recent months, Tévez has been on the radar of both Inter, AC Milan and Juventus, but according to reports, his preference would be to leave England only for a top Spanish club. Serie A has lost heaps of prestige in the past few years, reflected by the poor showings of Italian clubs in the Champions League.
Still, any player would have to consider a move to Inter and to play for JoséMourinho. Tévez may listen to the advice of Diego Maradona, who claimed "Italy and Inter in particular would be excellent solutions" to his lack of playing time at United. With the departure of Adriano and with Ibrahimovic's status still up in the air, Inter would be a more than viable option.