Complete Analysis of Carlos Tevez's Juventus Role
Carlos Tevez is currently in the midst of a fine debut campaign for Juventus. The Argentine has reignited his career in black-and-white stripes after his Manchester City career fizzled out in his and Roberto Mancini's final season in the Premier League.
Tevez, 30, held a massive reputation last summer when City opted to sell him once new manager Manuel Pellegrini had been appointed, and it was just exactly this that attracted the Bianconeri to swoop for his services in a £7.9 million deal, per Transfermarkt.
Here, I will examine his role for Juventus, break down his contribution to the Old Lady thus far and predict what the future holds for Carlitos in Turin.
The Story So Far
For the most part, Tevez has enjoyed a successful beginning to his career in Italy.
While never a player prone to missing long spells through injuries, the fact that he has yet to miss a match will be encouraging, especially for a player who has just reached the wrong side of 30.
In 23 appearances in Serie A, Tevez has scored 13 times and assisted six more, which must be considered a fine return in a debut campaign.
And while Tevez averaged more than a goal per game for Manchester City over four years, he has seldom been a prolific goalscorer, which makes his return even more impressive given the transition to a league in which it is notoriously difficult for strikers to score.
In fact, this is statistically speaking Tevez's second-most successful season in European football up to this point, having played 23 matches.
The only season in which El Apache surpassed his current contribution was for City during the 2010/11 campaign, where he had scored 18 goals up to this point but only contributed five assists.
So Tevez is on track to set a career-high number of assists in his eighth season in European football.
In fact, Tevez has the fourth-highest average rating in Serie A per WhoScored.com at 7.73, with the next-best striker, Mario Balotelli, some way off at 7.47.
Moreover, nobody at Juve has achieved more Man of the Match awards from Italy's most popular newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. Tevez has achieved this feat eight times, while teammates Arturo Vidal and Paul Pogba have won four each.
When you consider that he is playing in a system in which he has had very little experience and the fact that the tactics in Italy are significantly different to those in England, we have to conclude that he has been a success thus far.
Degree of Success, Measured by Expectations Upon Arriving in Turin
Tevez's role at Juventus has been pretty consistent for the most part.
He has been utilised as one of the two centre-forwards in Antonio Conte's preferred 3-5-2 formation.
Given that his role has not differed vastly from that of the forwards who occupied one of the two starting roles for Juve in the previous two seasons under Conte, we can directly compare him to those to see exactly how successful he has been in this role.
Tevez has already surpassed the highest total of league goals by a striker under Conte since he took the reigns at Juve with 13 goals. The next-best totals were recorded by Alessandro Matri and Mirko Vucinic, who each scored 10 times in the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns, respectively.
The expectations were that he would be an upgrade, as it was believed that Juve only lacked a top striker to take them from dominant domestic force to European contender.
Even still, Tevez has done marvelously well and proven excellent value for money, especially after Juve didn't sign Gonzalo Higuain.
With all this considered, it is fair to say that Tevez has at least met and probably exceeded expectations for Juve this season.
Disappointment in Europe
If there is one criticism of Tevez in a Juve shirt, it is his impact, or lack thereof, in the Champions League.
The Argentine failed to score in six appearances, with Juve suffering a shock exit at the group stage.
For context, Tevez's role was adjusted for the first time since arriving last summer, when he was pushed out wide as an unorthodox left-winger in both matches against Real Madrid.
This is the most interesting tactical deployment of the player since joining the club, and while on the face of it the move wasn't a roaring success—Juve lost at the Bernabeu and drew at the Juventus Stadium against Los Merengues—there was more to the story than the results.
Tevez demonstrated a greater tactical intelligence than he may have been given credit for throughout his career.
With the obvious threat of the roaming Angel Di Maria from the right—at least in the first meeting between the sides, as the former Benfica star started from the bench in the second encounter—Tevez was able to nullify this for the most part by his industry when Juve were not in possession.
This naturally took something away from his attacking contribution but it appeared to have some sort of success, especially in bringing out a more focused point of attack, with Fernando Llorente able to bring others into play.
With Tevez's tendency to come inside from the left or right—with himself and Claudio Marchisio switching wings with regularity—it allowed the full-backs to overlap and receive the ball in a far more advanced area than normal.
Despite aiding the team tactically on those two occasions, Tevez was noticeably off when it came to Europe's premier competition, which needs to be noted given he was arguably brought to the club to help them achieve greater success in this tournament.
According to WhoScored.com, Tevez's 7.73 average rating in Serie A drops to 6.99 in the Champions League. This is evidently something that Tevez must improve on if he is to be considered a big success in Turin.
Impact of Llorente on Tevez's Role
Tevez began the season as the primary focus for Juve's attack, leading the line and offering his usual terrific industry to implement a high press for the Bianconeri.
But upon Mirko Vucinic suffering an injury and Fernando Llorente finding his feet in Italy, Tevez found himself being paired with the Spaniard with greater regularity.
This has impacted the way that Tevez has performed for Juve, with Llorente's greater strength and power prompting Conte to have the former Athletic Bilbao striker leading the line and Tevez drop a little deeper in order to facilitate the transitions from midfield to attack.
This was a role that Vucinic did and does particularly well, which often left Tevez able to pin himself to the opposition's last man in order to sniff out opportunities to slip into the space between defence and the goal.
Given that Llorente is not agile or mobile enough to play in the hole, Tevez has taken it upon himself in recent months to be the link for the likes of Paul Pogba and Arturo Vidal to make their runs from deep.
Carlitos has taken some time adjusting to this change in his role, being positioned much further away from the goal than was the case in the opening weeks of the campaign.
Despite his overall goal tally, with spells of eight matches and just one goal followed by six matches without a goal, Tevez has clearly taken some time to adjust.
The emergence of Dani Osvaldo and the reintegration of Vucinic after his move to Inter broke down in January should change things even further.
Despite his success so far, the future for Tevez at Juventus remains a little murky.
With Conte signing Pablo Osvaldo on loan with seemingly a view to a permanent move, it is unclear whether the manager sees Tevez through the middle-long term.
As expressed in the third slide regarding his dip in form in Europe, Conte will be intent to make major inroads into the Champions League next season, especially if he should achieve a third successive Scudetto.
With the usual 3-5-2 system accused of not translating to Europe and the evidence of Conte experimenting with a 4-3-3 in the two games with Real Madrid, it feels as if a change is imminent to avoid the Bianconeri becoming stale after three seasons with the same formation:
Conte thinking playing the trio together: Osvaldo, Llorente, & Tevez. pic.twitter.com/cy6LNytyTD
— Sam (@Juventusfc_news) February 13, 2014
It would be unfair to say that Tevez could struggle to be a hit when shifted to the wing, as just like any other player, he will need time to adapt.
But we can expect Conte to continue to utilise his variety of skills to the team's benefit, which must be the greatest argument as to why Tevez was a superior signing to that of Higuain—his versatility.
Tevez is on the cusp of a historic first season at Juve, achieving the rare feat of claiming a Scudetto and award for top scorer in his debut campaign, emulating John Charles and Felice Borel:
Tevez can join the likes of John Charles & Felice Borel by winning the Scudetto & being top-scorer in his 1st year with Juventus (GdS).
— Tarek Khatib (@ADP1113) February 13, 2014
He is effectively leading the race for the Capocannoniere with 13 goals, as Giuseppe Rossi on 14 will likely only play a handful more matches this season due to injury.
It will be fascinating to see how Tevez develops under Conte's tutelage, with his role for his team, even at this stage of his career, set to evolve further.