Carlos Tevez has shown a better attitude and is doing extra training of his own will, the coach of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua said Friday, days after he called the Argentine overweight.
Wu Jingui, who took over this week after Gus Poyet quit on Monday, vowed that Chinese football would see “a different Tevez” from now on.
The unfit Tevez is unlikely to feature in Saturday’s derby against Shanghai SIPG, the latest chapter in a colourful career spanning Argentina, Brazil, England, Italy and now China.
The 33-year-old forward earns among the highest wages in football, an estimated $850,000 a week, but his eight months in China have been dogged by injury and poor form.
Poyet resigned with Shenhua below mid-table in the Chinese Super League (CSL) and his successor Wu wasted no time in telling Tevez that he would not be part of his plans until he shapes up.
But speaking on the eve of the Shanghai derby, Wu took a more conciliatory tone.
“Tevez is still quite positive and absorbed in training, he even started doing extra training of his own volition,” Wu said on Friday.
“This is the kind of attitude the team needs and in its current situation welcomes.”
Wu added: “Tevez’s experience and level is not in doubt, it’s not like he needs to prove himself in the CSL.
“In some ways he had some adaptation problems since he came here, but you can see that his arrival has brought more attention to Shenhua.”
Asked by AFP if Tevez would play again for the Shanghai club, Wu replied: “Definitely.
“With his current attitude we will see a different Tevez.”
Shenhua fans and football supporters in general in China will need convincing.
The Argentine former international was jeered by supporters when he came on as a substitute last weekend during a 2-1 home defeat and they have turned on him, having given him a hero’s welcome when he arrived in January.
Tevez, whose former clubs include Boca Juniors, Manchester United, Manchester City and Juventus, has previously hinted that he will look to leave China when the CSL season ends in November after failing to settle.
Local fans and media have an unflattering nickname for Tevez, “Very Homesick Boy”, a play on how his name is pronounced in Chinese and a nod to his problems settling.