In the absence of on-pitch matters to keep audiences engaged, the transfer market has taken centre-stage in order to fill column inches and television screens in Argentina. At Boca Juniors in particular the wheels are in motion, even with no definite date set for the return of football and the resumption of normal activities.
The fate of two attackers is the pressing issue at La Bombonera, with Carlos Tevez and Ricardo Centurión hitting the headlines. The former is mulling over a new contract proposal from the team headed by Vice-President Juan Román Riquelme, an offer that somewhat bizarrely came with stinging criticism from two members of the Xeneize's legend's staff.
“When we took over Carlos Tevez was an ex-football player,” Jorge Bermúdez, who won two Copa Libertadores titles as a player at Boca and now advises Riquelme on sporting matters, fired to TyC Sports on Tuesday. “He was shaken by what happened last year, he had no confidence and wasn't sure of his leadership role. For many people Tevez was on his way out and Román was coming to push him out the door.”
The Colombian's harsh words were echoed to Fox Sports by his colleague in Boca's Football Council, Raúl Cascini: “We have made Carlitos an offer which will be the highest in this squad. When we arrived at the club Carlitos was an ex-player after the China thing. We had a chat because we have known each other for a long time, because we played together and shared a lot of things, we trusted in him and at the moment we arrived he came through, that is why we are making the effort.”
Tevez has kept an intelligent silence on the matter and negotiations continue unaffected, with the duration of his next and most likely final contract the only stumbling block to striking a deal at present. Boca are looking to sign their captain and the author of the goal which clinched the 2019-2020 Superliga title through to next June, while Tevez hopes to stay until the end of 2021, at which time he will be approaching his 38th birthday. All indications point to the Xeneize meeting their star's demands, thus securing his future at the club until the moment when he most likely hangs up his boots and calls time on a career laden with silverware and individual honours.
Additionally, a reunion at the Bombonera may well be on the cards between Carlitos and one of his old partners in crime. Tevez and Centurión combined to stunning effect during the 2016-2017 season at Boca prior to the former's ill-fated move to China, with the current Vélez Sarsfield forward staying on to net eight goals for the club on their way to the Superliga crown. Estranged from Racing Club and with his Vélez loan truncated by the coronavirus pandemic, Centurión claimed this week that he had received a call to return to the Xeneize: “To look at my contract situation and a little more background.”
Centurión's talent has never been in doubt; but time and again his temperament has let him down. A promising link-up at Racing under Eduardo Coudet went up in flames when he shoved the coach during a painful 2-0 defeat at the hands of River Plate back at the start of 2019, the last time he pulled on the Academia shirt. He was later drummed out of Mexican club Atlético San Luis after being spotted drunk on a night out in the middle of the season, while his previous spell at Boca was peppered with stories of nocturnal misbehaviour and fights with team-mates; as well as grave domestic violence charges that were eventually dismissed.
There were signs at Vélez, under the firm hand of coach Gabriel Heinze, that Centurión's worst excesses might now be behind him, having made it through the tragic loss of partner Melody Pasini at the start of Argentina's Covid-19 lockdown. The forward is known to have a strong relationship with Riquelme which will help his case, but any deal will first require the blessing of Racing, who still hold the rights to Centurión's contract.
The coming weeks will reveal whether Boca's vice-president trusts in the player to put his troubles behind him and star once more at La Bombonera, while plenty more stars from across the world are bound to be linked with the reigning champions before a ball is kicked again in anger.