A week ago, the news broke that Carlos Tevez had put in a transfer request, keen to leave his current Premiership club, Manchester City. Initial speculation was first confirmed by the press [Top TWEET by @DTguardian on Dec. 11: Carlos Tevez story is true ... written transfer request, considering quitting football altogether, homesick and unhappy], then by the club, and finally by Tevez himself as he released a statement expertly distributed by his business representative Kia Joorbachian.
Players often want to change jobs (as do we all) and there's nothing new in deals being prepared ahead of the January transfer window throughout much of December. What seems odd in this current Tevez telenovela is the public nature of his declaration of intent, and the tirade of animosity exchanged between club and player representation.
According to Joorbachian it was the club's decision to go public. Last week Joorbachian spoke to me off the record, but has since given on the record interviews to most news outlets in the UK, reiterating that Tevez feels the club have broken promises, and has been keen to move since the summer.
Back in early November the tabloid press had a field day reporting that Tevez was depressed, visiting a psychoanalyst, and keen to return back to Argentina. His marriage fell apart earlier this year, and he has since been linked to a series of Argentine models and glamourites. For the past few months he's been attached to teen-starlet Brenda Asnicar, with whom he was photographed in London Thursday. He has two small daughters who live with their mother, a young woman who despite her best efforts never managed to settle in Manchester, and moved back to Argentina some time ago.
This all makes sense; the experience of exile is hard for most folk. But according to reports this week, depression, exasperation with the sport, and the desire to quit soccer altogether if the club dont release him are all part of Tevez's newfound determination to quit City. However, Joorabachian told me last Sunday that none of that is true -- of course Tevez misses his daughters, but he has no intention of quitting.
Cue to transfer rumors spreading like dominoes; suddenly, Barcelona and Real Madrid are tipped as potential future employers for the star forward, while back in Argentina reports mention Chelsea. Barcelona has a policy of never ever making statements about transfer rumors, an insider tells me, stressing the word rumor vehemently. Real Madrid for its part told me "We have never been interested in Carlos Tevez."
All in all, the saga is justifiably suspected as a possible "Rooney" -- a neologism for the new practice of pumping a players price tag by publicly threatening to leave a club, with the intention of remaining in the club but for more money -- the move has prompted vocal responses from many fans. Noel Gallagher of the band Oasis band told the Express,"I think Wayne Rooney's agent set the bar when it comes to modern-day transfer requests. My own opinion is that [Tevez] would be the first person to leave a football club because he doesn't like someone in the office."
If much of what is currently transpiring seems tumultuous, it merely falls in line with what for the most part has been a turbulent career path for Tevez. Tevez was born and raised in one of the roughest neighborhoods of Buenos Aires in 1984. A purpose-built complex of tower blocks, constructed to house slum-dwellers ahead of the 1978 World Cup -- obstensibly in order to clear off them the visible stretch of highway visitors would pass through. Nicknamed "Fuerte Apache" because it was reminiscent of Wild West movies, daily life in there is pretty much like an episode of The Wire; and yet young talent often emerges from within, and bands describe the reality with a hybrid of local musical style cumbia and rap, now known as cumbia villera.
Tevez's brother, Diego, fronts one such band, Piola Vago, and among their hits is a song dedicated to Tevez, who often joins the band on the stage and has also spread the hip movement basic to cumbia dancing which is his signature goal celebration through English fandom.
Tevez has always managed to get earn the adoration of the fans wherever he has played -- although in each instance he would subsequently leave the club under acrimonious terms. He was revered as a hero in Brazil (for an Argentine that's worthy of note) at Corinthians and later, when he moved to West Ham in London's East End. Again, at Manchester United he succeeded in getting the whole stadium chanting Argentina, Argentina and picked up a Champions League trophy against Chelsea in Moscow draped in an Argentine flag.
Tevez personifies the dream-come-true tale of so many; he embodies those who have suffered the most and those who have given us the most joy rolled into one. The reason why this stocky dribbler, scarred from his face down to his torso by a childhood accident, wins the hearts of fans all over the place is attributed to his relentless hunger for the game.
Bocha Batista, one of Tevez's earliest youth coaches, told me that once you've had a childhood like Tevez did -- when even getting a meal is difficult -- then nothing is difficult once you've overcome that hardship. His first international coach, Hugo Tocalli, praised Tevez for his intelligenace, determination and understanding of what needs to be done to win. He goes on to say that although Tevez is a magnificent exponent of the Argentine style of many touches, short passes, and dribbles in reduced places, he's intelligent enough to adapt: Tevez understood in England its one dribble and run.
Tevez's commitment to finding the back of the opponent's net, and his determination to sweat every minute of every game, is what makes it so difficult to envisage his reported desire to retire. However, it's worth noting that in an interview with Argentine station TyC Sports in November Tevez said: "I'm tired of people who work in football. Football is only about money and I don't like it.
"Today there are many bad people in the football business and you have to fight with them all the time."
Tevez's transfers from club to club have never been devoid of controversy. Even his very first move, from the youth-books of Argentinos Juniors to Boca Juniors, was clouded in mystery with question marks over Tevez's change of name from his first documented enrollment as Carlos Martinez. Some say this name change was unrelated to club books, and that he was adopted by a family member who gave him the name. Whatever the truth, Argentinos allegedly earned some compensation as late as 2005 for irregularities in the youngster's move away from them.
He was bought by Brazil club Corinthians from Boca in 2004 and then-Boca President Mauricio Macri recalled requesting all the money upfront because of the complicated consortium setup on the buying end. This consortium, at the time fronted by Joorbachian, then moved Tevez to West Ham once again in a last-minute surprise transfer in 2006 for just $18 million -- a surprisingly low amount for a player of his talent.
In fact, it would transpire that the deal was a type of loan, and breeched FA regulations. So much so that Sheffield United, the Premiership club who were relegated instead of West Ham at the end of the 2006-07 season due to a Tevez goal, also earnt hefty compensation. The legal details of Tevez's subsequent move to Manchester United in 2007 took several months to resolve. Now, at Manchester City he is reputedly one of the highest earners in European football at over £200,000/$309,560 per week (Rodney Marsh claims that the actual amount is closer to £286,000 per week), under a five-year contract which still has three and a half years to run.
It's hard to not assume that if Tevez truly is depressed, the current debacle will do little to help him settle and get the kind of pyschological help necessary. On the other hand, if he's just restless and disappointed not to be playing in the Champions League, then Tevez is surely capable of willing Manchester City to that coveted top-four spot, if indeed he ends up staying at the club past January.