FIFA World Cup

Carlos Tevez Reacts to Claims of Lionel Messi Fallout Ahead of World Cup

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY 03:  Carlos Tevez and Lionel Messi of Argentina share a joke ahead of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Quarter Final match between Argentina and Germany at Green Point Stadium on July 3, 2010 in Cape Town, South Africa.  (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)
Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Nick AkermanFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2014

Carlos Tevez has rubbished reports his exile from the Argentina squad is due to a poor relationship with Lionel Messi.

The Juventus striker opened up to Cronica, via Stefan Coerts of Goal.com, suggesting rumours of a bust-up with Messi are misplaced:

I don't know where these rumours that I have a bad relationship with Messi are coming from. Everybody publishes stuff like this, but the truth is that I don't have any problems with Messi.

We have shared a lot of moments together, have trained together, have played together and there have never been any issues. He is a great person.

Tevez also labelled Messi "the best in the world" alongside Cristiano Ronaldo, confirming there is no hard feelings from his point of view.

The former Manchester United striker is in real risk of missing the World Cup after falling out of favour under Alejandro Sabella. Tim Vickery of BBC Sport suggests this is largely down to the coach finding a "sweet thing" between Messi and Sergio Aguero, both of whom fired Argentina toward the upcoming tournament with key goals in qualifying.

Tevez's poor international record—13 goals in 64 caps, per Vickery—leaves him extremely vulnerable to the chop that would see the 30-year-old's last potential World Cup appearance pass him by.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 27:  Carlos Tevez of Argentina celebrates scoring his second goal and his side's third with team mate Lionel Messi during the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Round of Sixteen match between Argentina and Mexico at Soccer
Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Despite scoring 18 goals in 40 games during his debut season with Juve, per WhoScored.com, Tevez may unsettle the balance of an Argentinian attack that is often tasked with bailing out a sloppy defence.

Messi, Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain are relentlessly offensive, offering a consistent counterattacking threat, while Tevez's industrious nature ensures he may battle for the ball out of position. Argentina must pressure high up the pitch to give their back line respite, a trait that often bypasses Tevez who opts to track possession.

"Diego Maradona destroyed the balance of the side he had created because he felt that he had to find a place for Tevez," writes Vickery, who acknowledges Tevez's "poor boy past" makes him a favourite in Argentina—more so than the "globalised star" of Messi.

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - OCTOBER 11: Head coach Alejandro Sabella of Argentina in action during a match between Argentina and Peru as part of the 17th round of the South American Qualifiers for the FIFA's World Cup Brazil 2014 at Antonio Vespucio Liberti
Buda Mendes/Getty Images

Sabella remains immovable. He is yet to budge, and indeed, provide Tevez with a single appearance since his tenure began in 2011. It seems that, while the energetic forward doesn't have a problem with Messi's personality, the national coach sees a lack of on-pitch rapport between the pair.

Despite the potential of a "cleverly orchestrated media campaign" that may aim to reinstate Tevez—much like it did during Sergio Batista's rule—Jonathan Wilson of The Guardian notes that Sabella's "mind seems made up."

While the coach's decision is sure to irk many, Argentina head to Brazil with a real shot of landing this year's prize. Players such as Messi, Aguero and Higuain will need to be at their best if Tevez's absence is to go unnoticed, but Argentina's firepower is likely to carry them through the earlier stages without a worry.

When the going gets tough and Sabella needs a forward to exert boundless energy across multiple duties, he may wish Carlitos was given a call.

 

 

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