Liverpool’s rumoured swoop for Carlos Tevez represents a potential transfer destined to emphatically succeed or fail spectacularly at Anfield.
On the one hand, he could be the likeminded replacement to Luis Suarez the Reds struggled to source in the transfer market last summer; on the other, he could cause Brendan Rodgers as many headaches as Mario Balotelli.
Tevez is very much the Premier League’s Suarez original. Like the Uruguayan, he’s a nomadic attacker blessed with the typically South American blend of tenacity and flair. He breaks through tackles, links up well, offers dynamic pace and has a recurring knack for the sublime. Although a 30-goal, PFA Player of the Year award-winning season may be a little beyond the Argentina international at the age of 31, the similarities in style with Suarez should make him a good fit for Liverpool’s brand of football and the perfect partner to Daniel Sturridge.
Should the theory prove true, he could well be Rodgers’ shrewdest signing yet – and it’s no secret the Liverpool gaffer’s record in the transfer market must show remarkable improvements to get disillusioned factions of the fan base back onside.
But also like the cannibal of Ajax, Anfield and the 2014 World Cup, Tevez comes with a worrying amount of baggage; one of the few players outspoken enough to publicly criticise Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United, left out in the cold for six months at Manchester City by Roberto Mancini after refusing to be subbed on against Bayern Munich in 2011, and absent from the international scene for three years allegedly due to disruptions he caused within the Argentina dressing room – specifically, complaining to the media about his role in the Albiceleste starting XI.
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Now a veteran striker and humbled by his banishment from the world stage, one would assume Tevez has calmed down a little bit. But if there’s one thing he’s remained ever-consistent on throughout his career, it’s that he wants to be playing week in week out as a centre-forward.
After signing Danny Ings from Burnley, Liverpool can’t necessarily afford him that luxury; Rickie Lambert isn’t expected to move on this summer whilst assurances of first team football is believed to be a significant factor in Ings opting for an Anfield move over his alternative suitors from the Premier League and yonder. Meanwhile, Rodgers will feel compelled to gain some use from Mario Balotelli next season if Liverpool fail to find a buyer for their £16million flop this summer.
Of course, Tevez represents the tortured genius mindset Rodgers continually gravitates towards. But as much as it’s become a deliberate transfer market ploy by targeting talented bad boys and lost souls Europe’s major clubs are reluctant to touch, it’s also become a bit of a vanity project for Rodgers; the idea he can tame even the most rebellious of beasts – even those deemed ‘unmanageable’ by their prior employers.
And although the Juventus star represents the preferred end of the tortured genius spectrum to Balotelli, the dangers are similar; a renegade striker who doesn’t care much for team spirit or protocol, whose lack of professionalism could render him unpickable practically overnight. You can envisage the furor if Liverpool ended up with two strikers on their books both ostracised from the first team because of questions over their attitude, despite their obvious talent.
Whether that makes Tevez too big a risk for Liverpool, however, remains open to debate. In a small dose – a tenure of a year or two – it seems unlikely the Argentine would cause too many problems. His two terms at Juventus have been largely hiccup free.
In what manner he begins his Anfield career could well set the tone. If Liverpool start next season strongly and afford the 5 foot 8 striker enough playing time, he could prove a revelation. But equally, if Tevez isn’t featuring regularly and Liverpool’s overall form is poor, debasing issues could quickly emerge.