Buenos Aires: Recently-appointed Argentina coach Gerardo Martino said Wednesday he is set to hand Juventus striker Carlos Tevez an international lifeline after the former Manchester United and City star was left out of their World Cup squad.
Martino said the 30-year-old, who began his career with Boca Juniors and then Corinthians before a one-season spell with West Ham, will be in competition for the number nine shirt with Napoli's Gonzalo Higuain and Manchester City marksman Sergio Aguero.
"If I have to say where I imagine Tevez in my game plan, it is only at number nine," said the 51-year-old Martino, who left Barcelona at the end of last season after just one year in charge. "There is no other position and he will be in competition with Higuain and Aguero, and then it is the coach's choice," Martino told La Nacion newspaper.
Tevez, who scored 13 goals in 64 matches for Argentina between 2004 and 2011 before being frozen out, will be 34 by the time the 2018 World Cup in Russia rolls around. He won Premier League titles with United in 2008 and 2009 as well as the Champions League in 2008 before adding a third English title with City in 2012.
His current club Juventus won the Serie A crown last season while in 2003 he lifted the Copa Libertadores with Boca Juniors. The Buenos Aires native is also a three-time South American player of the year (2003, 2004, 2005).
Martino took over from Alejandro Sabella who stepped down after leading the two-time global champions to the 2014 World Cup final where they were beaten 1-0 by Germany after extra-time. "I will not be taking four number nines to the World Cup, so for me, the decision of Sabella (not to take Tevez) was not illogical," Martino said.
Tevez scored twice, his first European goals in five years on Tuesday, as Juventus began their Champions League campaign in style with a 2-0 Group A win over Swedish club Malmo. Martino is set to unveill his squad next week for a tour of China where Argentina will face Brazil in a prestige friendly.