The story of Carlos Tevez will no doubt go down in the folklore of English football as one of the most bizarre and intriguing tales in the modern history of the game in this country. A tale that began with his stunning arrival at West Ham in 2006 is now set to end after 5 years of transfer sagas, key goals by the bucket-load, ownership questions, city-crossing experiences… you name it, Carlos Tevez has been involved in it.
But enough eulogising, the man is not dead. In fact, far from it. He is currently taking part in the Copa America in Argentina, which upon arriving at and reuniting with his daughters and wife Vanesa, he has taken the decision that his time in England is over. So, what now for the blue half of Manchester?
On the day in which he sealed the transfer of Gael Clichy from their top-of-the-table challengers Arsenal, Roberto Mancini must have been quietly confident for the coming season. He has been rapidly approaching his goal of having two quality players for each position within the squad, and was looking to add another winger, possibly Udinese’s Alexis Sanchez or Arsenal’s Samir Nasri if rumours are to be believed. A sale of those deemed surplus to requirements such as Wayne Bridge and Roque Santa Cruz and decisions on the futures of players like Shaun Wright-Phillips and Emmanuel Adebayor would be carried out in the coming weeks now that the players are returning from holidays, but other than that the squad was looking settled for the season ahead.
And then came the news that Captain Carlos was looking for a way out of the club, and Mancini’s hopes for a calm (relatively, for City) summer went hurtling out the window, with the Argentine sure to follow.
City’s summer now rests on finding a replacement, as it is safe to say the current crop of strikers at the club are not at the level Mancini needs or wants. The South American trio of Felipe Caicedo, Jo and Santa Cruz will be told to look elsewhere as they have all fallen so far out of favour with the manager that it would take a resurrection of Biblical proportions to get back in the team. Moves for Craig Bellamy and Adebayor to Celtic and Real Madrid respectively seem to be more a case of when not if. The self-proclaimed ‘second best player in the world’ Mario Balotelli still has a bit to learn before he can usurp Messi as player numero uno, but he will stay at City for the time being, as will Edin Dzeko, whose start to life at the club cannot really be used to judge him just yet, but this is set to be a defining season for him in the Blue’s team.
The current state of affairs only really leaves City with the two main strikers, and while that should satisfy Mancini in so far as he plays 4-4-3 with two wingers flanking the striker, it is highly likely that he will be in the market for a new centre forward.
A few options have been bandied about in the media recently, the club strongly linked with a move for Samuel Eto’o even before the Tevez statement. It was suggested that Inter Milan were interested in the perpetually want-away Argentine and that there were hopes of a swap deal being concluded, not for the first time in Eto’o’s career, although Inter had stated that they were unwilling to sell their star striker.
An almost like-for-like alternative would be Atletico Madrid’s Sergio Aguero or Napoli’s Ezequiel Lavezzi. Both from Argentina, both strong and fierce competitors, Aguero is the better finisher and the more prolific scorer but Lavezzi has a more bullish style akin to that of Tevez. Aguero has stated that he is definitely leaving this summer, and despite an offer from Juventus being discussed by his club, he refuses to make any decision until after the Copa America. According to the Lavezzi’s agent, President of Napoli Aurelio De Laurentiis has said that, “No player is not for sale,” suggesting that the door will be open should they get the price they want. Aguero is the more straightforward option, as he has a minimum fee release clause thought to be around £42 million, and while some clubs may baulk at this it is certainly within the City budget of ‘practically infinite’. The only real issue is how the club sells the City of Manchester to another player used to sun, sangria and siestas.
Whether this appeases the fans or not is one thing. Whether the fans even care about Tevez’s departure after half a year of ‘will he-won’t he’ is something entirely different. Either way, City supporters are going to be in for another bumpy summer of speculation. Buckle up.