Shanghai (AFP) – Handsomely paid Carlos Tevez is overweight and will not play again for Shanghai Shenhua until he gets fit, the Chinese club’s new coach has warned.
The 33-year-old Tevez is one of the best-paid players on the planet on reported weekly wages of about 730,000 euros (US$870,000) but has scored just twice this season and missed half the games with injury.
The former Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus star has hinted that he will quit China at the end of the season in November and has been branded “very homesick boy” by angry Shenhua fans and Chinese media.
Tevez recently returned to the country from a two-week break in his native Argentina to seek treatment for a leg-muscle injury.
He was jeered when he came on as a substitute last weekend in a 2-1 home defeat, and Wu Jingui, who took over after Gus Poyet quit as coach on Monday, is taking a hardline stance.
“I had a talk with him today about tactics, but I won’t let him play for now, he isn’t physically ready,” Wu said in an interview published Wednesday with the Shanghai Morning Post.
“Both him and (Colombian Fredy) Guarin are overweight. I need to be responsible to the team and responsible to the players.
“When you are on the pitch, if you can’t play at 100 percent, then it is completely meaningless.”
It is the latest sorry chapter in Tevez’s turbulent nine months in China.
He angered fans of struggling Shenhua earlier this year when he missed an important match due to injury and was instead spotted at Shanghai Disneyland.
The forward has been a controversial character throughout an itinerant career spanning stints in Argentina, Brazil, England and Italy, before he left Boca Juniors for a surprise money-spinning move to China in December last year.
His most notorious moment in his colourful career came at Manchester City when he refused to warm up as a substitute in the last moments of a Champions League match against Bayern Munich in September 2011.
Tevez fell out with then-City boss Roberto Mancini and flew back to Argentina to mull retirement, before eventually returning to England in February 2012.