Carlos “Bosman” Tevez: Is he a free agent?

Another Tevez saga beckons, and the man himself could throw the toys out of Uniteds pram.

Another Tevez saga beckons, and the man himself could throw the toys out of United's pram.

That’s right loyal readers, another transfer window is trundling ever closer towards us and so, naturally, a new saga surrounding the future of Carlos Tevez is blowing up. The Argentinian remains in good form and a crowd favourite at Old Trafford, but Alex Ferguson remains resistant to the idea of paying thirty-two million pounds to secure his services full time, perhaps justified given that he is often selected amongst the substitutes.

However, whichever way you feel about the relative merits of Tevez and Berbatov, you have to admire United’s nerve, if some newspaper reports are on the money. Those respected journalists over at The Sun reckon that United are cooking up a plot to sign Tevez on a free transfer, in an attempt to use the complicated situation whereby he is ‘owned’ by investment company MSI to their advantage. If it comes off, it will be one hell of a coup, but I have a sneaky feeling it could backfire on them…

Firstly then, a quick recap of just why United think they might have a chance of signing Tevez for nowt. Essentially, according to the Bosman ruling that allows players to essentially decide who they want to play for and prevents them from being contracted against their will, any third party that attempts to manipulate the movement of a player between clubs can count as a restraint on trade. Which means, in English, that MSI, who are a third party, could arguably be violating Tevez’s right to move between clubs, which is his right as an employed footballer.

This is in violation of the EU law regarding fair trade and all that sort of business, and so United are hoping to suggest that all they need to do in order to sign him is to agree personal terms, allowing Tevez to sign for them on what’s known as a ‘Bosman’, essentially a free transfer. The tricky part is that Tevez’ agreement with MSI was signed in South America and so is outside EU laws, but if United can argue that he wants to play in Europe, then EU laws might come into play and score them a bargain.

Obviously, this is, at present, all speculation, but given that United seem keen to keep Tevez, Tevez seems keen to stay, and United don’t want to pay a hefty transfer fee, it could all happen. Whether or not United will actually try it remains to be seen, but I think we can all agree that there is a reasonable chance that such a coup could come off. However, I don’t know if that’s such good news for United.

Because, let’s face it. While Tevez has certainly enjoyed his time at the club, and enjoyed a large amount of success during his two year loan deal, he must be feeling a bit harshly treated just at the moment. Not only is he still struggling to hold down a starting place in the team ahead of the occasionally brilliant but usually lazy Berbatov, but also, United have shown no real desire to keep him. Yeah, 32 million pounds is a lot of money, but they spent almost that on Berbatov, and so Tevez is likely feeling a bit undervalued there.

He’s very much the sort of player too, that loves his football. he plays with great passion and commitment, and you can bet your boots he’s been pretty frustrated sitting on the bench for United, given that he is, in his own right, a world class footballer who would walk into most sides. And while he has said that he would like to remain at United, you have to wonder that if a better deal didn’t come along, wouldn’t he be tempted?

If Tevez were willing to break his contract with MSI — the company that owns his registration — then he could become as famous for not playing football as Jean Marc Bosman.Ian McGarry, The Sun.

Of course, until now, most clubs probably assumed that United would eventually take up the option in his contract to sign him permanently. However, that’s looking increasingly less likely, and it now seems plausible that they will attempt to strike a deal with Tevez as a free agent, to avoid the fee, as discussed above. What that means though, is that suddenly, if it seems Tevez can be signed for no fee, there are a lot more clubs in the running.

Because in no way does the above complicated political situation infer that such a deal would be exclusive to United, oh no. It means that if Tevez wants to move to a club, any club, and MSI are seen as blocking that from happening, Tevez will be able to sign with that club on a bosman and effectively released from ownership by MSI. Which means that if Tevez isn’t entirely satisfied at United and receives a better offer from a rival, they could have lost out on the chance to keep hold of a top class player.

And let’s face it, Tevez isn’t going to be short of offers. There are arguments that he doesn’t score enough, but given that he has never really had an established run in United’s side, that’s no surprise. And given his talent and work rate, if you play him regularly, Tevez will score goals. And everyone is always after a goalscorer. Indeed, if United can wriggle their way out of paying a big fee for him, they might lose more than a big hole in their wallet, they may lose the player as well.

Because the likes of Man City, Chelsea, Arsenal and Everton all need top class strikers. City have been well short of firepower this season, and have the wallet to tempt him; Chelsea may see the back of Drogba and also really need a different type of striker, which Tevez is; Arsenal are likely to let Adebayor go play in Beyonce AC Milan; and Everton will lose Jo back to Man City and have Yakubu returning from a long term layoff, but have real ambition and a squad with a similar workmanlike ethic to Tevez.

And that’s just assuming that Tevez wants to stay in England, which he has suggested, but you can bet your boots that the likes of Madrid, Barca and Inter Milan will be sniffing around the scarred hit-man too, and don’t bet against him being tempted away from the Premier League.

All in all then, I think that United are playing with fire a little here. Their seeming apathy towards sealing Tevez’s transfer may well have left a bitter taste in the striker’s mouth, and so if they do manage to wriggle their way out of a transfer fee, they could see themselves pipped at the post, and see Tevez join a club who show an active interest in both signing him and playing him regularly. So watch this space loyal readers, summer approaches, and I can smell another dramatic Tevez-Transfer-Saga on the breeze…

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