If you momentarily put to one side the on-field sniping at Roberto Mancini, the driving disqualification, the 250 hours community service order, the talk of wanting to return to Boca Juniors, the talk of moving to Paris Saint-Germain and the talk of moving to Monaco, Carlos Tevez, with 17 goals in 39 games, has looked quite the player for Manchester City this season.
|CARLOS TEVEZ'S CAREER STATS
Perhaps Liverpool, who are considering a €8.2 million move for the 29-year-old this summer, are the latest club willing to turn a convenient blind eye to the indiscretions. City aren't. They want rid of Tevez this summer.
But with a year remaining on his €233,000-a-week contract - almost double that of any potential deal from the Anfield side - Tevez somehow again holds the aces over another club at which his behaviour has been, at best, jaw-gapingly, head-shakingly brazen. The common consensus at both City and beyond is that it has been far, far worse than that.
Not for the first time, Tevez and his representative Kia Joorabchian have left City officials shifting in their seats and scratching their heads. Their options switch between offering the 29-year-old a new contract on similar terms to his current eye-watering deal, accepting a bid for far less than the roughly €28m they paid for him in 2009, or do nothing and lose the forward for no fee at all next summer.
And just as was the case on the Allianz Arena bench to which he seemed so oddly attached in September 2011, Tevez is happy to sit still as chaos ensues around him.
One more year of €57 steaks at his favourite Manchester restaurant Gaucho, the occasional round of golf with wife Vanessa, no more Mancini to boss him around at the day job and a €11.1m salary under a fellow Spanish-speaker in Manuel Pellegrini would be tolerable to a man who has at times acted as if the word simply doesn’t fall under his vocabulary.
Monaco could yet provide a solution to keep all parties happy, after already securing the services of Radamel Falcao, James Rodriguez and Ricardo Carvalho, bankrolled by the soon-to-be Ligue 1 outfit’s billionaire owner Dmitry Rybolovlev. Ever the extrovert, Tevez admitted in May that he would “really like” a project like Monaco.
Elsewhere, Paris Saint-Germain remain an “interesting option” for the player whom many would say is lucky to even still be on City’s payroll after spending over three months of the 2011-12 season on gardening leave in Buenos Aires, in which he spent more time on his homeland’s golf courses than their football pitches.
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PSG need a great striker to team him up with Zlatan Ibrahimovic as the other attackers in the squad have failed to deliver. With both Ezequiel Lavezzi and Kevin Gameiro facing the exit door.
As for Monaco, the Ligue 2 champions remain intent on making a statement before the start of next season. Tevez is a big enough name to do that, but neither club can afford to entertain the press with rows and scandals between managers and players like Man City did with Tevez and Mancini, as both try to build their image.
Juventus, well aware of the 29-year-old’s delicate contractual situation, have admitted to undergoing informal talks with Tevez’s representatives in recent months, though are said to favour a move for the striker’s compatriot and Real Madrid forward Gonzalo Higuain.
Meanwhile, City sporting director Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano are mindful that they must amass around €47m from player sales and wage bill savings if they are to secure their ideal €140m-rated shortlist of six summer targets, headed by the man they see as Tevez’s ideal replacement in Edinson Cavani.
€29.5m new boy Fernandinho and Jesus Navas, who is set to be confirmed as a City player this week, have been targeted alongside, Isco, Thiago Alcantara, Diego Novaretti and Cavani by Etihad Stadium officials ahead of the transfer window, with the likes of Edin Dzeko, Javi Garcia and Samir Nasri all being made available to leave the club in the next few months.
But Tevez, who is impressed by the arrival of Pellegrini from Malaga, is happy to stay in self-imposed - and let’s not forget lucrative - limbo at City, with Soriano ready to meet with the striker and Joorabchian in the coming weeks to discuss a new deal to keep him at the club and up his value in the face of potential bidders.
Tevez doesn’t like Manchester, and Manchester is proving increasingly less fond of him, yet both he and City are set to come together to ensure he remains a valuable asset for his employers, as well as one of the game's best-paid players. You can't help but wonder if he really even cares anymore.
So welcome to Manchester and welcome to the world of Carlos Tevez. Quite the player. Quite the problem.