By Eric Beard
Argentine fútbol has been suffering. The country’s national team failed to live up to the hype in Copa America this past summer, while Brazil’s emergence as an economic power has spurred the Brasileiro to new financial and competitive heights. Argentina has been lagging behind its bitter rival, but two strikers, as accomplished as any in the world, are ready to return to Argentina. They haven’t returned for the money; they’ve returned because they want to be playing in the Argentine Primera División, rather than see their careers out in Europe or lie in piles of money in the Middle East until retirement.
The David Trezeguet Story: “To play for [River Plate] and in Argentine football is to crown a dream. I left (Buenos Aires) very young and I’m really enthusiastic about this (move).”
Coming off of a lucrative stint in Abu Dhabi with Baniyas SC, Trezeguet is now 34 years old and ready to have his swan song in Argentina, the land of his ancestors. Upon arriving in Buenos Aires at Ezeiza international airport, Trezeguet told the Argentine press, “I’m in perfect shape to give River my best.”
The Carlos Tevez Story: “In January I want to be playing for Boca. It doesn’t matter if I have to take a pay cut, but I’m tired of the travelling and the comings and goings… I want to be part of the pre-season [training] and play in the Copa Libertadores,” lifestyle magazine Gente quoted Tevez as telling his agent Adrian Rouco.
It’s not too surprising that Tevez was playing golf in Cordoba when he said this. Tevez has been pushed to the edge of ambivalence during his time in England. Thousands of English fans despise him, and the man who grew up in the rough barrio of Ejército de Los Andes (also know as Fuerte Apache) could not care less.
“El Apache” has all the money he could ever dream of at this point, and to a certain degree it’s admirable how Tevez has put his health and his happiness before the opinions of others rather than decaying and succumbing to any forces of depression weighing down on him. He needs to press the ‘reset’ button on his career. The natural talent and goal-scoring instinct is still there, clearly. However, Boca Juniors gives him the opportunity to pursue intense competition in his homeland. Money is not a factor. He wants success. He wants to score goals. He wants to enjoy playing the game that made him into a legend.
Tevez alone will spark a vast amount of interest in the Argentine Primera División. But with Trezeguet, a fellow conqueror of Europe and all of its riches, Argentineans - not to mention the city of Buenos Aires - have enough firepower in their league to enhance a rivalry. Boca-River is one of the greatest rivalries in the world, but with River currently fighting to get back into the country’s first division the intensity has subsided. Tevez and Trezeguet are warriors who will always demand success from their peers.
Former Argentina midfielder Matias Almeyda is now the River coach, and he is ecstatic about getting Trezeguet to join his squad as River head towards what appears to be inevitable promotion back to the first division.
“I’ve talked with Matias and we had a good dialogue. He explained the team’s situation to me. The club’s objective is very clear, and his too,” proclaimed Trezeguet.
The objective is clear. To get back to the top. To challenge Boca. To become the best in Argentina, one small step at a time. No one knows the future of the Tevez saga, but with Trezeguet signing with River it’s an optimistic time for Argentineans. It may seem like a dream, but perhaps the Tevez at Boca vs. Trezeguet at River Plate subplot makes perfect sense. Not only for the league’s ability to create a spectacle for its fans, but also for the respective world class players and their careers.
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