Football: 'Very homesick boy' Carlos Tevez sheds bulk in bid to win over Chinese critics

This file picture taken on Sept 16, 2017 shows Shanghai Shenhua's Carlos Tevez walking to the stands after his team lost their Chinese Super League football match to Shanghai SIPG.
This file picture taken on Sept 16, 2017 shows Shanghai Shenhua's Carlos Tevez walking to the stands after his team lost their Chinese Super League football match to Shanghai SIPG. PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Carlos Tevez has lost several kilos in weight and wants to prove himself to sceptical Chinese fans who have booed him and labelled him "very homesick boy", his club Shanghai Shenhua said on Thursday.

The former Argentina international has endured a turbulent 10 months in China since arriving to a hero's welcome from Boca Juniors, missing around half the matches this season injured or unavailable.

In September, new Shenhua manager Wu Jingui called the 33-year-old, one of the highest-paid players in the world on a reported €730,000 (S$1.16 million) a week, overweight and ordered him to shape up.

Tevez, known by his detractors in China as "very homesick boy" because of his previous behaviour in jetting back to Argentina in times of trouble, appears to have taken note and has been putting in extra training to lose the bulk.

And with the first leg of the FA Cup against rivals Shanghai SIPG two weeks away, the former Manchester United and Juventus forward has gone from 78kg at the start of the year to 72kg now, a Shenhua spokesman said, confirming reports in Chinese media that Tevez wants to prove his doubters wrong.

Tevez played all 90 minutes of Sunday's 5-1 home rout of Yanbian Funde, scoring just his fourth Chinese Super League (CSL) goal this season, as his side sit a poor 11th in the 16-team standings with one game left.

The season-ending FA Cup final takes place over two legs this month and Tevez has previously hinted that he would look to quit China when the season finishes.