MADRID (AFP) - Carlos Tevez may be reaping the rewards of China's football boom, but believes standards in his new home fall well below the level he has become accustomed to in a glittering career.
The Argentine, who had spells at Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus, joined Shanghai Shenhua on a then world record €38 million (S$58 million) salary in December.
However, despite the millions being ploughed into the Chinese game on the back of President Xi Jinping's demand for China to become a world force, Tevez hasn't been impressed with the quality of football he has seen.
"I don't think they will be able to compete with any of the big European sides," Tevez told Spanish TV station Movistar.
"Even if the best players come, I think the football is very different and the fans treat it in a completely different way as well.
"I don't think they will get there in 50 years."
Tevez has not done much to impress since arriving in the Far East, scoring just once from the penalty spot in four matches before being sidelined by injury.
"They aren't very physical but I think they are very naive," he added.
"Without meaning to, they can do you damage with a kick because they are clumsy."
Yet, with the government cracking down on the number of foreign players each team is allowed to sign, Tevez expects big improvements from the new generation of Chinese players.
"Technically, they are not very good, but I think with this new rule that the government has put in, the kids are going to have to start playing and that they will improve a lot."