He says he wants to stay, yet the clock is ticking and nothing has been tied up. Goal.com's Greg Ptolomey thinks the Argentine has a large part to play in the run-in, but believes Sir Alex may allow him to move on thereafter...Carlos Tevez is used to deciding seasons.
He might still be feeling light-headed as he floats back to Carrington following Argentina's World Cup qualification humbling at the hands of altitude kings Bolivia, but he'll soon feel the weight of expectation when he hits English soil ahead of Manchester United's huge Premier League clash with Aston Villa.
Wayne Rooney is suspended and Dimitar Berbatov has been ruled out for two weeks, leaving Tevez as the only recognised striker available to gaffer Sir Alex Ferguson for the battle of the suddenly-awful sides.
The powerful forward kept West Ham United in the top flight two years ago by downing the Red Devils and, in a more literal sense, Sheffield United. Acquired from Corinthians by the Hammers in 2007, along with Javier Mascherano, using an agency called MSI (Media Sports Investments), Tevez used Upton Park as a stepping stone to the Theatre of Dreams, with Mascherano moving to Liverpool. The MSI arrangement hasn't been compatible with English football, though, and is now viewed like some too-good-to-be-true pyramid scheme or elaborate con. His transfer to Manchester was painful, even before Sheffield United fought West Ham in the courts after the player's departure, and the Red Devils are yet to invest the money which would secure his permanent stay and rid him of the black cloud that is Kia Joorabchian's agency.
So has it all been worth it? Is Tevez so important to United and English football that the Mancunians should cough up the estimated £32million in order to stop him from moving to one of his reported suitors – Real Madrid or Inter Milan – in the summer? It's hard to say, as it's impossible to consider him purely on footballing terms; the various wrangles surrounding him have inevitably coloured Sir Alex Ferguson’s opinion of him. The wily Scot dislikes complex transfer scenarios and is usually quick to get rid of anything that gives him a headache. Cristiano Ronaldo was the exception, of course, but that's because he was the best player in the world last season. Tevez hasn't reached those heights.
He's hit some highs this term, of course, most notably in December when he netted a deadly League Cup quad during the 5-3 win over Blackburn Rovers, before he scored against Aalborg in under three minutes a week later. However, there's also been talk of training ground disagreements and quotes of questionable origins – claimed to be from the mouths of Tevez and ‘Fergie’ – flying around all season, creating an unnecessary new drama around a 25-year-old who is now carrying a lot of baggage with him.
Tevez has a great turn of pace, fantastic close control, infinite horsepower and keen eye for goal – these things have been clear to everyone concerned from the start. However, the question remains: is he worth the money? It's hard to say whether or not United would sign him for a large fee had he spent the last couple of years on loan elsewhere. One is inclined to say probably not, however, Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov were also massive gambles. Ferguson generally looks for a sure thing when signing a defensive player and something different in the attacking positions, even if that means a sulker or a loose cannon. When a decision is finally made, one would imagine that Ferguson will have the final say. If he wants Tevez, Joorabchian won't stand a chance as the United buzzards descend upon him and rescue the floppy-haired powerhouse. If he doesn't want him, then off he'll trot and Joorabchian can do what he likes; United won't be held to ransom.
The fact that a shell-shocked and jet-lagged Tevez is United's best hope of keeping their title charge on track this weekend surely shows that the club doesn't have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to their attacking pool. Rooney is fluctuating between hero and villain on a weekly basis; ‘Berba’ hasn't quite become 'the new Eric Cantona'; young Danny Welbeck is an unknown quantity. Perhaps the flexibility of wide-man Ronaldo hasn't helped Tevez's plight - there's only so many high-octane marauders you can fit on a pitch at one time. What it boils down to is that Tevez is too good and too expensive to be a squad player and his role will have to be defined more clearly.
One gets the feeling that Tevez can have a major impact in the title race, but I'm not convinced that Ferguson will take the gamble thereafter. He'll surely have his eyes on other players, even though United aren't prolifically linked to strikers as some clubs are, and could likely pick up a couple of top young players with the Tevez money.
Still, one feels for the Argentine, who's something of a victim in this whole South America to England affair. To make any potential parting more awkward, he's set his heart on staying. "I cannot think of any team except United,” he told Sport. "The United fans love me and my family is very happy both in Manchester and in England. My heart is telling me it will be impossible for me to leave English football."
Unfortunately, in this climate, it's not the heart that does the talking - it's money.
Greg Ptolomey, Goal.com