Finally, it’s official. The man who, upon being presented at La Bombonera in front of 40,000 adoring fans and Maradona himself in July 2015, stated “money doesn’t buy happiness”, has become the world’s highest paid footballer in a 2-year deal that will see him earn a salary of $40 million.
The Chinese club confirmed the news in a statement published on their website yesterday, and whilst no official financial details have emerged, reports suggest a fee of US $87.6 million for the striker. Such a hefty price-tag will see Tevez become the world’s sixth most expensive player after Paul Pogba, Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gonzalo Higuaín and Neymar.
Tevez leaves Boca on a high note, having scored twice in the recent 4-2 victory over River in the Superclásico, a win which lifted them to the top of the league going into the summer break. Last season, Carlitos captained the side on their way to their most successful season in recent times, lifting both the league title and the Copa Argentina respectively.
During his first stint at the club between 2001 and 2005, Tevez scored 38 goals in 110 appearances to earn a move to Brazilian side Corinthians, before going on to enjoy a decade of success in Europe, lifting five league titles and one Champions’ League trophy with Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus. Following his move last year, Tevez has been hugely influential in leading Boca’s successes so far, and so his move will undoubtedly prove a threat to the club’s attempt to retain the title this time out.
Ageing footballers seeking one last payoff, whether in China or the USA, is nothing new to football. However, the move follows the worrying trend of players, some in their prime, being lured to the likes of the growing Chinese Super League, rather than pursuing success at a considerably higher level in Europe or South America. Just last week, it was confirmed that Brazil’s Oscar, 25, will join Shenhua rivals Shanghai SIPG for a fee close to US$64 million, whilst the league already contains several other talked-about South American stars from recent times, such as Ezequiel Lavezzi, Hulk and Jackson Martínez. At Shenhua, who are managed by Uruguayan Gus Poyet, Tevez will play alongside Colombians Fredy Guarín and captain Gio Moreno.
In a club statement announcing his departure, Boca offered their best wishes to the forward: “Good luck Carlitos. You will always be in our hearts.” Considering the tears he shed as he was substituted against Colón two weeks ago, there’s no doubt that the feeling is mutual.