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Milan, Spurs, West Ham - Could ex-Man Utd & City star Tevez really resume playing career?

8:00 PM GMT+8 22/04/2022
Carlos Tevez West Ham 2022
The inactive forward recently undertook a tour of Europe amid widespread rumours of a possible return to the game at the age of 38

Although almost a year has passed since Carlos Tevez last took the field for a professional football match, he remains a star attraction.

The Argentine has embarked on a highly publicised whistle-stop tour of Europe over the past two weeks, taking in visits of Serie A giants Milan and Juventus as well as a reported meeting with former coach Antonio Conte at Tottenham and a trip to ex-employers West Ham, where he received a hero's welcome from fans.

The roadshow in turn prompted a whirlwind of reports over Tevez's intentions for the future, some more plausible than others.

So what, then, does the striker have up his sleeve following this return to the limelight?

Tevez has maintained a largely discreet profile since ending his third spell at Boca Juniors in June 2021, following the Xeneize's elimination from the Copa Liga Profesional and in the middle of their latest ultimately unsuccessful Libertadores quest.

He was careful on that occasion not to rule out a final farewell.

“I'd tell you today that I am retiring, but in three months I might feel like coming back to play,” he told reporters while holding back the tears in his final press conference.

“But not in Boca, because I will not be 120 per cent mentally again.

“I am happy with this decision. I have nothing else to give. I gave my all, that's why I am happy.”

In February, however, Carlos Roucco revealed that while the veteran was still undecided on whether to return, one side had already moved towards making him an offer.

“There are very advanced talks with one club, a foreign club,” he signalled to TyC Sports. “Carlos is going to draw the curtain on his career like he deserves to.

"If the two things I have detailed – sporting and quality of life – can be guaranteed, we might get Carlos to think it over, talk with his family and maybe have a chance to play a few more months.”

At this point, and in spite of some of the speculation that has circulated around his recent tour, one point should be put beyond any doubt.

At 38, and having been out of action the best part of 12 months Carlitos will not be moving to Milan, to Tottenham or any other side in Europe's elite.

One of the finest strikers of his generation at his peak, a champion in Argentina, Brazil, England and Italy and, along with Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, Tevez enjoyed a spectacular career at the top, one built on his sparkling talent and no less importantly his fierce work ethic and competitive spirit which pushed him on throughout.

But as he admitted upon walking away from Boca, much of that fire has escaped from his belly, while it was apparent even in those final days at the Bombonera that he had also lost a significant part of the bustle and energy from his legs, playing a far more static role than previously.

A move to MLS might yet still occur but even that appears a long shot, not to mention a wild gamble for any purchasing club. Right now, a different kind of role in the game looks far more likely.

“The coach in me is in the lead by a hair... all of us dream about coaching Boca,” he explained to ESPN in 2021 when asked what the future might hold.

These recent reunions with former mentors Conte and Max Allegri, then, could well be read as a fact-finding mission with an eye to launching his own career on the bench in the near future.

His timing could not be better.

Current Boca coach Sebastian Battaglia is hanging on by a thread at the Bombonera after a string of mediocre results, having himself been in the job barely six months after taking over from Miguel Angel Russo.

Battaglia, like Tevez a Boca idol from his playing days during the club's golden years of the early 2000s, is the club's sixth coach in just eight years, a spell that coincides with the rise of arch-rivals River Plate under Marcelo Gallardo.

He may have inflicted defeat on Gallardo in March's Superclasico but, just like his predecessors, Battaglia has not worked out how to match the Millonario and their formidable coach, a perennial thorn in the Xeneize side.

A sizeable obstacle stands in Carlitos' way, though, in the shape of Boca vice-president Juan Roman Riquelme.

The pair have never been close and, while a tense truce was struck following the great former No.10s entrance into the boardroom in 2019, their mutual enmity is said to have been at least partly behind Tevez's decision to walk away last year.

But if Tevez cannot join his long-time sparring partner, perhaps he can beat him.

A hive of leaks, slander, treachery and conflict even at the best of times, the Bombonera is currently on red alert thanks to the downturn in form.

Not even Riquelme, ranked by many Boca fans above even Diego Maradona as the club's greatest idol, is safe from catching some of the flak.

In that unfavourable context, the opposition to Roman and president Jorge Amor Ameal would certainly appreciate having a name like Tevez's on the ballot for the club's next elections in 2023 in order to mount a real challenge against the incumbents.

Nor is the striker completely unfamiliar to the rather murky world of the boardroom.

He enjoys tight bonds with two former club chiefs: Daniel Angelici, Ameal's predecessor; and Mauricio Macri, who used Boca as a springboard to later become mayor of Buenos Aires and then President of Argentina, and who recently said of Tevez: “I can see him participating in Boca politics in the near future; he looks committed to me.”

For now at least the ex-Manchester United, City and Juventus ace appears to be keeping his options both open and intensely private, giving nothing away in public even as he did the rounds on the other side of the Atlantic.

It seems certain, though, that the Tevez story looks set to run a few chapters longer, and that whether his future lies in the bench or the boardroom, he will be determined to seek the same success that distinguished his fantastic career on the pitch.