Carlos Tevez departs China under a cloud to return to Boca Juniors

Carlos Tevez departs China under a cloud to return to Boca Juniors
From ESPN - January 8, 2018

The Carlos Tevez saga has come to its predictable conclusion, ending a year in which the Argentinian proved little has changed with himself or, indeed, Shanghai Shenhua.

Tevez's criticism of the Chinese Super League (CSL), poor form and eventual return to Boca Juniors came as little surprise given the striker's track record, while for Shenhua the past 12 months carried echoes of the hapless signings of Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba more than half a decade ago.

The landscape of Chinese football was very different when the former Chelsea pair arrived in 2012 -- Anelka at the start of the year; Drogba six months later -- with the duo the only global stars prepared to trade life in Europe for a stint in China at the time.

Xi Jinping had yet to make his ascent to the Chinese presidency, and football was a long way from being the flavour of the month for the wealthy property barons who currently bankroll the CSL.

Anelka and Drogba were lured on the promise of huge salaries but it all soon turned sour, with both departing under a cloud as the reputation of Chinese football was tarnished over Shenhua's mismanagement and reports of unpaid wages.

Thanks to the flurry of big-name arrivals into the Chinese Super League in the last two years, the incident has been largely forgotten, but the season-long Tevez drama has reignited a sense that Shenhua remain a club prone to self-sabotage.

The publicity around the striker's arrival and unconfirmed reports of a salary in the region of US$800,000 per week did little to help build on a quietly impressive 2016 season when, under Gregorio Manzano, Shenhua had finished fourth in the league to qualify for the preliminary rounds of the AFC Champions League.

Manzano, though, parted company with Shenhua during the close season, to be replaced with Gus Poyet and before long Tevez was swapping one blue shirt for another as he moved from Boca Juniors to Shanghai. But right from the start it was clear that while Tevez was at Shanghai's Hongkou Stadium, his heart remained at the Bombonera.

"His performances were disappointing for many Chinese fans and I am not really sure what he did that was good for the club or for football in China," Titan Sport's Ma Dexing, one of China's leading football journalists, told ESPN FC.


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