Football: A 12-month timeline on Carlos Tevez's disastrous China stint

Carlos Tevez scored just four goals in the Chinese Super League and missed half the matches either through injury, or was simply out of form or out of shape.
Carlos Tevez scored just four goals in the Chinese Super League and missed half the matches either through injury, or was simply out of form or out of shape.PHOTO: AFP

SHANGHAI (AFP) - Argentinian 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 (CSL) and missed half the matches either through injury, or was simply out of form or out of shape.

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

Dec 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- a-week (S$1.1 million), the highest wages in football.

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

Jan 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.

Feb 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 CSL debut and stars, scoring once and providing two assists in a 4-0 thumping of Jiangsu Suning.

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."

Aug 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.

Aug 30: Tevez returns to China and the club say he is fit to play.

But Chinese media and Shenhua fans take to calling him "very homesick boy," a nod to his troubles settling anywhere during his career and a play on how his name is pronounced in Chinese.

Sept 11: With Shenhua struggling below mid-table in the CSL, Uruguayan coach Gus Poyet quits. Technical director Wu Jingui takes over.

Sept 13: Wu wastes no time laying down the law, saying that Tevez is "overweight" and will not feature until he shapes up. "When you are on the pitch, if you can't play at 100 per cent, then it is completely meaningless," says Wu.

Sept 15: Wu takes a more conciliatory tone, saying Tevez is showing a better attitude and doing extra training of his own will.

"With his current attitude, we will see a different Tevez," he says.

Sept 16: Tevez climbs off the bench and scores but Shenhua are thumped 6-1 at rivals Shanghai SIPG.

Nov 2: With an FA Cup final against SIPG looming, Tevez sheds 6kg and his club say he is determined to prove his doubters wrong.

Nov 19: Tevez is left out of Shenhua's squad for the first leg of the Cup final at home with no reason given by the club. They win 1-0 in his absence.

 

Nov 26: He is missing again as his side win the Cup. It transpires that he flew back to Argentina after being left out of the Shenhua squad once more.

Dec 4: Tevez is ordered to return to Shanghai by Dec 26 if he wants to save his career in China.

Jan 6, 2018: Calls time on his China nightmare as he signs for boyhood club Boca Juniors for a third time.