Gustavo Poyet has said that the presence of Carlos Tevez has helped to boost the Chinese Super League (CSL) in a big South American market that is essential for the growth of Chinese football.
The 32-year-old was signed by Shenhua from Boca Juniors for €11 million in January and has struggled thus far, playing in only five of the club’s opening eight games and scoring just one goal.
Despite the growing rumours that Tevez will quit the (CSL) and return to Argentina, Poyet insists that just the presence of the former Manchester United striker is beneficial for his new club.
“My opinion is that Chinese football is being watched all over South America because Tevez is here,” Poyet told Argentina daily La Nacion. “You could add [Hebei CFFC’s Ezequiel] Lavezzi, the Colombians and maybe Roger Martinez and a few Brazilians such as Oscar, but up until last year no one watched the Super League.
“The same thing happened in England. There are finally players from over there who are playing here so at least one match is getting watched [in the U.K.]. That is the formula [for growth].
“To move Chinese football forward it needs to become popular. And for that one has to hire the best players, players with household names. Because if one doesn’t, the fans won’t get interested,” he said. “Nicolas Anelka and Didier Drogba have played here at this club. And now, I have to recognise all my players, Gio Moreno, Fredy Guarin, Hulk, Paulinho, [Robert] Goulart.”
Poyet denied rumours that Tevez’s play has been hindered by a bad attitude.
“Carlos is himself here,” he said. “He is always happy and always thinking about football. He has a unique approach and has integrated well with the team. He has had the good fortune to play with some big clubs, but he still hasn’t lost his desire to win. He plays each game as though it were the championship.”
Poyet attributed Tevez’s injury to his over-eagerness and added that he expects to see him return on May 20 when Shenhua, who sit seventh in the overall table, take on second-place Shanghai SIPG.
“He got injured because he is Tevez, because he took a hit and, while any other player would have left the pitch, he stayed on because we were losing,” Poyet said. “So he overworked his other calf and then after a few days of treatment he injured himself again.
“I expect him to play much better upon return not only because the injury has healed but also because his family is more adjusted. Also, we know what to expect on the field and we have been working to improve.”
Poyet said that Tevez ate nothing at first as he got used to the new food and culture.
“Regarding the food there are folks who suffer a bit more and Tevez was one of them,” he said. “Because in the beginning he just didn’t eat. I remember that Guarin and Moreno had to make him an asado [grilled meat].”
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