By Mark Doyle
During an interview with Sky Sport 24 in May, Juventus director Beppe Marotta was asked, "Carlos Tevez or Gonzalo Higuain"? A simple question but difficult to answer. On Tuesday evening, though, it seems that the Bianconeri came to a definitive conclusion that signing Tevez would be the more sensible solution to their striking problems, with the Italian champions agreeing to pay an initial €9-11 million for the enigmatic Manchester City striker.
Admittedly, the name "Tevez" should never normally be used in the same sentence as the word "sensible". But this is the exception that proves the rule: this is a deal that suits both clubs.
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Of course, Tevez will not come cheap; he never does. His wages will be among the highest in the Juve squad. But he would still cost significantly less than the Bianconeri’s preferred alternatives, with Real Madrid and Fiorentina both demanding close to €30m for Higuain and Stevan Jovetic respectively. As Marotta pointed out last month when asked about Tevez and Higuain, “It could be easier to buy Carlitos, if only for the reason that he has only one year left of his contract.” The Bianconeri will therefore be hoping that for half the price, they will be getting twice the player.
What they are most certainly getting is twice the ego - and that is why so many Juve fans will be feeling some trepidation about the seemingly imminent arrival of a forward who has proven notoriously problematic during a peripatetic career. Indeed, it is quite remarkable that he actually saw out four years at the Etihad, given the tempestuous nature of his relationship with former City boss Roberto Mancini and their now infamous standoff at the Allianz Arena two years ago.
Juventus will be well aware that Tevez can never go more than a couple of seasons at a club before complaining about... well, everything. But then, that should not be an issue in this instance. The Italian champions have been searching frantically for a goalscorer capable of making an immediate impact in Turin. Tevez is undeniably that kind of player. When he is happy, motivated and focused (i.e. not angling for a move elsewhere), he is truly a force to be reckoned with, as evidenced by his debut campaigns at Corinthians, Manchester United and City.
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Tevez has, at the very least, another couple of stellar seasons left in him, which is what Juve are banking on. In that sense, the Bianconeri’s move to acquire the 29-year-old should be viewed in a similar light to Manchester United’s decision to pay €26.5m for a 29-year-old Robin van Persie this time last year.
Obviously, Van Persie, a Bianconeri target last summer, is not only a very different player, but a very different character. However, both Tevez and Juventus are going into this relationship with their eyes wide open. The relatively short-term nature of the commitment should suit the player as much as the club.
Crucially, Juve coach Antonio Conte would have had a massive say in this proposed deal, having made it clear during last month’s showdown talks with his superiors that he wanted a much greater influence in the club’s summer recruitment strategy. That is reassuring, as Tevez is not the type of player a club should foist upon a coach. Conte commands respect no matter what, though. The irritable Argentine will be well aware that the kind of insubordination that he so often displayed at Eastlands simply will not be tolerated in Turin, as evidenced by the way in which Conte ostracised a couple of expensive acquisitions, Milos Krasic and Amauri, during the 2011-12 season.
Juventus, and Conte, therefore seem more than capable of getting their money's worth out of Tevez. Is it still a risk? Of course, but as Marotta alluded to, given the money involved, it is a risk well worth taking.