“I chose Juventus because it was my dream to play here in Italy and the Bianconeri were the only club who really wanted me,” Carlos Tevez stated at his official unveiling on Thursday afternoon. “Your football is one of the hardest and most beautiful in the world.”
After back-to-back Scudetti without a true goalscorer, the Old Lady now have two on their books. Fernando Llorente will come in this summer after running down his contract at Athletic Bilbao, and with the Manchester City forward joining him for as little as €9m, the rest of Serie A are right to be scared going into the 2013-14 campaign.
The Argentine striker may not be known for his loyalty and dedication to the cause, but when he gets it right, as Sir Alex Ferguson and Roberto Mancini can attest, the 29-year-old gets it very, very right. 107 goals in nearly 250 games for both Manchester clubs shows the talent Tevez has at his disposal. Which is a good job really, because being given the No.10 jersey at the Juventus Stadium means having to hit the back of the net regularly.
There was general bemusement when Antonio Conte’s side decided to hand the mythical shirt to the bullish, bolshie Argentine. Having gone untouched since Alessandro Del Piero left the club in 2012, it was widely expected to remain so, and perhaps even be retired. However, as owner John Elkann explained, “Juve now have another great No.10.”
There is certainly going to be pressure going into the new season for Tevez – expectations will be high, and with that shirt number on his back, fans will want the best, all of the time. Luckily, the Buenos Aires-born attacker knows pressure, as he explained to reporters. “The responsibility of the 10 is enormous. I already inherited that shirt from Diego Maradona at Boca Juniors. I respect it, it provides me with a challenge. I respect Del Piero, who is a symbol of this club and a great player.”
He may be saying all the right things, but as Ferguson and Mancini can also confirm, the striker has another more temperamental side. At every club he’s been to, Tevez has sought the exit door after a season or two – it happened at West Ham, where he pushed through a move to Old Trafford. And when that went wrong, it wasn’t long before he was off across the city to the Etihad Stadium. Some promising early performances were then followed by a fall-out with Mancini and that incident in Munich. A nine-month sabbatical and mid-season golfing holidays in Argentina were interspersed with a hat-trick against Norwich and match-winning goals against Aston Villa and Swansea.
Carlos Tevez is a man of contradictions – mature calmness in front of goal mixed with a child’s tendency to sulk. A man who works tirelessly on the pitch when it suits him, but very little off it. Some may say it’s a gamble from Juventus, but at just €9m, it’s probably a gamble worth taking.