Hero to ‘very homesick boy’: how Tevez unravelled in China

Shanghai (AFP) – Argentine star Carlos Tevez arrived in Shanghai to a hero’s welcome but sneaked out of China less than a year later and has now sealed a return to Boca Juniors.

The 33-year-old, whose former clubs include Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus, scored just four goals in the Chinese Super League and missed half the matches injured, out of form or out of shape.

AFP Sports traces Tevez’s turbulent 12 months in China and identifies the moment it all started to go wrong for the forward. 

– Big money –

— December 29, 2016: Shanghai Shenhua, who once boasted a forward line of Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka, say they have signed Tevez from Boca Juniors. Reports say he will earn about 730,000 euros a week, the highest wages in football. 

— January 19, 2017: A beaming Tevez, a blue Shenhua scarf draped around his thick neck, is mobbed by hundreds of fans chanting “Carlos! Carlos!” as he touches down in Shanghai. 

— January 21: Tevez vows to earn every yuan of his bumper contract. “There will probably be pressure, but because I love football very much, I will use my passion,” he tells reporters through a translator.

— February 8: Tevez makes his debut but fails to score as Shenhua crash out of the Asian Champions League in a 2-0 defeat to Brisbane Roar, prompting the Australian club to mock on Twitter, “Carlos who?”

— March 5: Tevez makes his Chinese Super League (CSL) debut and stars, scoring once and providing two assists in a 4-0 thumping of Jiangsu Suning.

– Disney controversy –

— April 15: The moment Shenhua fans begin to turn on Tevez. Apparently injured, he is spotted at Shanghai Disneyland the same day his side are in action. “We pay him tens of millions so that he can have a guided tour of Shanghai,” one disgruntled supporter writes on football website Hupu.

— May 27: Tevez brands Chinese footballers “clumsy” and “very naive” in a damning interview with Spanish television. He concludes that Chinese football is decades behind Europe, saying: “I don’t think they will get there in 50 years.”

— August 15: Injured once more, Tevez flies back to Argentina for treatment on another muscle injury. Shenhua say they fully expect him to be back and say he returned to his homeland with their blessing. “No one ever said he would leave (permanently),” a club spokesman tells AFP.

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