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Have Argentina Made Right Choice in Ending Carlos Tevez's International Exile?

Daniel Edwards@@DanEdwardsGoalFeatured ColumnistOctober 28, 2014

Argentina's Carlos Tevez plays the ball during the World Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Argentina and Germany at the Green Point stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, Saturday, July 3, 2010.  (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Matt Dunham/Associated Press

It was the most hotly anticipated news of the Argentine football year. National team coach Gerardo Martino had hinted ever since taking over from Alejandro Sabella that Carlos Tevez could be in line for a return to the Albiceleste. But on Monday, the confirmation finally arrived. 

A list released by the Argentine Football Association via Twitter showed that the Juventus forward, as well as Manchester City goalkeeper Willy Caballero and Tottenham's Federico Fazio, had been included. Tevez will now fight for inclusion against Portugal and Croatia, both matches to be played in November on English soil. 

It is unlikely that Carlitos has been called up solely for his local knowledge of Argentina's next playing surfaces. Martino has sent a message: After three years of international exile, the squad's prodigal son will get a chance to add to the 64 caps and 13 goals he racked up before Sabella cut him out of the fold back in 2011. 

But with Argentina not exactly lacking in forward talent, is Tevez's homecoming really the right choice for a side looking to build for next year's Copa America? 

There was a reason why the star fell out of favour. Sergio Batista had already tried removing Tevez from the Argentina setup prior to the 2011 edition of the South American tournament. But just before the beginning of play, he was back, amid rumours that the coach had his hand forced in including the Fuerte Apache native dubbed "The People's Player." 

Despite counting on the talents of Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Gonzalo Higuain and Lionel Messi up front, that Albiceleste team was an unqualified flop. Draws against Colombia and Bolivia were only partially compensated by an easy 3-0 victory over Costa Rica that assured their passage into the quarter-finals. There, in the city of Santa Fe, everything fell to pieces. 

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Oscar Tabarez's steady yet unexciting Uruguay outfit frustrated the hosts throughout, holding them to a 1-1 draw. In the shootout it was none other than Tevez who missed the decisive kick, rounding off an awful tournament where he failed to hit the net on a single occasion. 

Juan Bragio/Associated Press

The problem then was the same that will face Martino three years down the line. In Tevez, Messi and El Kun Argentina possess three unique talents, which all bring something different to the table. But they also have one thing in common. The trio of strikers function best with the rest of the team built around them, ensuring that they are continually in the thick of the action. 

With Aguero at the height of his powers during World Cup qualifying, predecessor Sabella found a way to combat this issue. The rapid, tricky Manchester City player was used in a wider position, roaming across the forward line with Messi pushed further forward and Higuain breaking lines cutting in off the right flank. The tactic was outrageously successful, with the trio scoring 24 goals between them to fire the Albiceleste to Brazil 2014. 

In that tournament, however, the fitness and pace that El Kun and Pipita brought to the qualifiers was eroded by a tough league campaign. A more static attack failed to fire, with only Messi and the emergence of Angel Di Maria as one of the world's best providing the forward flair necessary at the World Cup. With Tevez in the setup, this convergence of technically gifted players who do not add great amounts to the team effort further up the pitch could leave them extremely unbalanced. 

The most logical solution will be to start one of either Tevez or Aguero on the bench, with Messi and Higuain leading the attack. Martino will have to see if Carlitos really has matured and will be happy to take a supporting role, or he risks upsetting a squad whose togetherness is one of its strongest virtues. 

The coach has staked his reputation early on the former Boca Juniors star. Tevez's return to the Argentina setup could prove to be a masterstroke, but the onus is on both player and coach to prove that he has the maturity and quality to share a leading role in an Albiceleste orchestra packed with conductors. 

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