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9 years on from West Ham, Tevez and Mascherano meet in the Champions League final

A lot has changed since their surprising move in 2006.

Carlos Tevez (left) and Javier Mascherano with West Ham manager Alan Pardew in 2006.
Carlos Tevez (left) and Javier Mascherano with West Ham manager Alan Pardew in 2006.
Image: PA Archive/Press Association Images

WEST HAM SURPRISED everyone on deadline day in 2006 when they announced the double signing of Argentina striker Carlos Tevez and his international and club team-mate Javier Mascherano on permanent contracts from Brazilian club Corinthians.

The deal for the duo, both 22 at the time, was one of the most surprising transfer deadline day signings in English football history. It later emerged that their registrations were owned by two offshore companies represented by Iranian-born businessman Kia Joorabchian — a clear breach of Premier league rules.

But at the time it was seen as a major coup and the fans were very excited to see the two South Americans in their team. The club’s statement from August 31st read:

The transfers represent a massive coup for the Hammers, who have beaten off some of Europe’s biggest clubs to secure the services of the duo.”

Tevez and Mascherano had very different seasons that year, as the latter found it difficult to adapt to the culture and language in England. But Tevez flourished and almost single-handedly saved West Ham from relegation with seven goals in their final 10 games, culminating in that memorable winner against Manchester United on the final day of the season.

Source: Imgur

Mascherano, meanwhile, who would soon be recognised as one of the best defensive midfielders in the world, was being kept out of the team by the likes of Hayden Mullins, Lee Bowyer and Nigel Reo-Coker.

When the details of their transfer and third-party ownership emerged, West Ham somehow avoided having any points deducted and were instead fined 5.5m pounds after pleading guilty at a 2007 tribunal. Most Hammers fans would tell you it was worth it to stay in the Premier League, but they ended up losing their two star South Americans soon after.

After spending the majority of this time at Upton Park warming the bench, Mascherano was allowed to go on loan to Liverpool where he quickly established himself in a formidable midfield with Steven Gerrard and Xabi Alonso. At the time, Liverpool were performing very well in Europe under Rafael Benitez. Mascherano went from being unable to break into the team at West Ham to starting the Champions League final against AC Milan, although they ended up losing 2-1 to the Italians.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Final - AC Milan v Liverpool - Olympic Stadium Mascherano battles for the ball with Kaka of Milan. Source: EMPICS Sport

On 28 August 2010, he agreed terms on a four-year deal with Barcelona for €24m. During his second season with the Catalan club he played almost exclusively as a central defender and testament to his ability, he has gone on to make the position his own. On 7 June 2014, he was awarded with a contract extension which ties him to the club until 2018 and includes a buyout clause of €100m.

Tevez, meanwhile, experienced tougher times since leaving West Ham. After the success of that first season, he hit new heights when he joined Manchester United. Cristiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney and Tevez formed a devastating attacking trio and fired United to the 2007-08 Champions League final. Scoring five goals in total during their European campaign that year, Tevez also scored the first penalty in the shootout against Chelsea, which United won 6-5.

The next few years of Tevez’s career was marred by transfer scandals and bust-ups. He joined Manchester City in 2009, where he became more renowned for his business off the pitch than his performances on it. In particular, that now infamous night against Bayern Munich springs to mind.

Soccer - UEFA Champions League - Group A - Bayern Munich v Manchester City - Allianz Arena Tevez refused to come off the bench against Bayern Munich in their Group Stage match. Source: Mike Egerton

But after toying with the idea of retirement in 2012, a transfer to Juventus has sparked a career resurgence. He ended his first season at the Italian giants with 21 goals in all competitions, and was named Juve’s ‘Player of the Season’. He has followed that up with an even better season, with 29 goals in all competitions so far.

Despite his return to form domestically, Tevez continued to cause controversy last summer when he ruled himself out of Argentina’s World Cup squad. Rumours circulated of a clash with Lionel Messi or coach Alejandro Sabella, or both. Mascherano, by contrast, received rave reviews for his performances in Brazil. He played all seven matches at the World Cup, despite an incident against Holland in which he “tore his anus”, and his leadership made him a hero among Argentinian fans.

Brazil Soccer WCup Netherlands Argentina Mascherano, centre, talks to teammates before extra time during the World Cup semifinal against Holland. Source: Hassan Ammar

Even though they have gone down very different paths since their time together at West Ham, their careers have always been inextricably linked. Back in 2003, they played for rival teams River Plate and Boca Juniors. Their agent Kia Joorabchian tells an interesting story from when Tevez left Boca for Brazilian club Corinthians.

“I remember the day we signed Tevez,” he said. “He started raving about this guy from River Plate and urged us to go and get him as well.”

Now, nearly nine years on from when they last played together, a long-standing friendship will have to be put to one-side as the two battle it out in this Saturday’s Champions League final.

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About the author:

Donal Lucey

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