Carlos Tevez has lost several kilos in weight and wants to prove himself to sceptical Chinese fans who have booed him and labelled him “very homesick boy”, his club Shanghai Shenhua said on Thursday.
The former Argentina international has endured a turbulent 10 months in China since arriving to a hero’s welcome from Boca Juniors, missing around half the matches this season injured or unavailable.
In September new Shenhua manager Wu Jingui called the 33-year-old, one of the highest-paid players in the world on a reported 730,000 euros a week, overweight and ordered him to shape up.
Tevez, known by his detractors in China as “very homesick boy” because of his previous behaviour in jetting back to Argentina in times of trouble, appears to have taken note and has been putting in extra training to lose the bulk.
And with the first leg of the FA Cup against rivals Shanghai SIPG two weeks away, the former Manchester United and Juventus forward has gone from 78 kilos (170 pounds) at the start of the year to 72 kilos now, a Shenhua spokesman said, confirming reports in Chinese media that Tevez wants to prove his doubters wrong.
Tevez played all 90 minutes of Sunday’s 5-1 home rout of Yanbian Funde, scoring just his fourth Chinese Super League (CSL) goal this season.
The season-ending FA Cup final takes place over two legs this month and Tevez has previously hinted that he would look to quit China when the season finishes.