Alex Ferguson, the manager of Barclays Premier League title favourites, Manchester United, knew when he leased Argentinian Carlos Tevez that this time would come: the two year deal is almost up and, despite United’s option to purchase, other clubs are now lining up to buy the player from his Buy-to-Let owners. Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez has now thrown his hat into that ring.
Real Madrid and United’s sky blue rivals – Premier League nouveau riche – Manchester City had already expressed a desire to sign the hard working forward. Now Benitez has added to those who would plot to take Tevez away.
Given the history between Benitez and Ferguson, many will feel that the Liverpool boss is motivated by a desire to get under the Scotsman’s skin as much as anything.
Tevez, it is thought, has a £22 million price tag for United to exercise their right to buy which would surely need to be dramatically higher for any other club to take the player – a price which, based on his performances on the pitch, he should not be worth.
Tevez has become an increasingly marginal character at United, not least since the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov from Spurs last summer, who’s nonchalant and dreadful penalty on Sunday all but put United out of the FA Cup final.
Following the away win at Porto in the UEFA Champions League, where Tevez was yet again on the bench – the fourth time in succession in the Champion’s League – the Argentine spoke out on Argentinian radio, stating that “in my situation, an exit will be the best solution”.
The United boss may well want to prevent Liverpool from acquiring a player who still represents excellent back up for first choices Berbatov and Rooney – particularly given the gruelling schedule that a war on several fronts presents to a modern day football club.
Ferguson also has a record of blocking deals to Merseyside – in 2007 he put the kibosh on Gabriele Heinze’s move to the club. Real Madrid stand little chance either after Ferguson branded them a ‘mob’ whom he “wouldn’t sell a virus”.
Given his options to go out and spend – most clubs are hanging onto their assets these days, and there aren’t so many great forwards who could be considered Tevez’s equal – Ferguson will likely want to stick with what he knows in the form of Tevez.
Unfortunately for Ferguson, though, Tevez does not belong to him: the only way he can prevent Liverpool and Real Madrid from buying the player is to buy the man himself. The other clubs know this. And they’re turning the screws.
Tevez clearly needs convincing of his role at United. Few, however, can argue that Ferguson is not the man to do this job. This time last year, it looked for all the world as though Christiano Ronaldo was heading to Real Madrid.
If Ferguson can convince the world’s greatest player to cut the umbilical ties – even Ronaldo’s mother said he would be going to the Spanish capital – then he can surely convince the most highly commoditised footballer in history that his best career choice is to stay with the world’s biggest club.
Carlos Tevez, then, needs to be convinced to find it inside that his future lies at the end of United Road. That, and the small matter of paying out the current landlords – headed by Kia Joorabchian – their £22 million or more.
Ferguson knows that if he doesn’t buy the player, one of his rivals will.
In a battle of wills such as this, Alex Ferguson rarely, if ever, loses.