By Aidan Elder | Chief sports writer
Hot-headed, frustrating but prodigiously gifted. It might fit neatly into the lazy stereotype of South American footballers, but the characteristics are difficult to ignore when it comes to two of Liverpool and Manchester City’s most talked-about stars. Luis Suarez and Carlos Tevez aren’t likely to face each other too often over the course of the 90 minutes on Sunday, but their respective performances will have a big influence on how the Anfield showdown goes.
They’ve started the season in vastly differing styles. Tevez lashed the ball into Petr Cech’s net in the Community Shield before putting City ahead against Southampton. Suarez didn’t have a great time of things at the Olympics and has misplaced his shooting boots over the course of the summer. He did plenty right against Gomel in the Europa League and West Brom in Liverpool’s Premier League opener, but has yet to find the barn door with his banjo.
Born about just over 200 miles and one Rio de la Plata apart, the Uruguayan and Argentine have gone on to become two of the league’s favourite water-cooler chat topics. Not always for their mesmeric skill. Here the Paddy Power Blog looks at how Tevez and Suarez compare in some key categories.
Every year Carlos Tevez earns more than the GDP of a small country. Granted that country is Nuie, a tiny New Zealand dependency of about 1,400 people in the South Pacific, but it’s still a lot for one person. After Alex Ferguson decided against keeping Tevez at Old Trafford, the nouveau riche Manchester City decided to make a statement and bring him to the El Etihad. That statement was ‘we have more money than sense’ and it worked because the player United fans once begged Fergie to sign permanently happily defected to the Sky Blue half of the city. Each week he reportedly earns £250,000 and although the tax man gets a slice of that, it’s enough to keep him in Bentleys for a few years to come.
Luis Suarez needs to get Kia Joorabchian’s number from Tevez at some point during the match because he trails behind him on the salary scale. The Uruguayan is said to get ‘just’ the £80,000 a week from Liverpool. That makes him one of the highest earners at Anfield, but would qualify for the soup kitchen at other clubs. It’s no surprise that the moneybags behind Paris Saint Germain were rumoured to be throwing bags of cash at him to come to France last January.
Luis Suarez will tell you there’s a lot more to his game than goalscoring. And you should listen to him because he head-butted a referee when he was 15. The 21 goals he has got since arriving at Anfield about a season and a half ago is a decent return for a player finding his feet in a new country. He does a lot more than goalscoring however. He also sets up great chances for other Liverpool players to miss.
It took a while for the highly-rated Tevez to find the onion sack when he surprised the footballing world by at West Ham alongside Javier Mascherano in 2006. He finally scored his first goal in his 20th appearance for the club, but then embarked on a scoring spree that was crucial in keeping the Hammers in the Premier League and launching a tedious long-running argument with the relegated Sheffield United. He recently notched up a century of goals while in England and finds the back of the net more often than his Uruguayan rival.
While at Ajax, Suarez got a seven game ban for biting an opponent on the shoulder. These days, his mouth still gets him into trouble, but thankfully not for attempted cannibalism. The Liverpool striker spends a sizeable portion of each match giving out to the referee for not giving him more protection from barbaric Premier League defenders and the incessant complaining has earned him his fair share of yellow cards. Perhaps sensing that the red mist is never far from descending, away crowds like to bait him and he’s not immune to reacting. He ends up in the referee’s notebook roughly once every seven games.
In terms of on-pitch discipline, Tevez seems to be the marginally better behaved player, picking up a booking about every seven and a half games. He’s no stranger to berating the referee either, but his cautions tend to be garnered through overly-eager tackling and the occasional celebratory shirt removal.
Attendance record last season
Quite a few column inches and Twitter jokes were devoted to Suarez and Tevez’s respective absences last season. For much discussed reasons, both players missed large parts of their clubs’ campaigns.
For the most part, the absences were down to ‘cultural misunderstandings‘ rather than injury. We all suddenly became experts on the nuances of Rioplatense Spanish thanks to Suarez’s ill-advised nickname for Patrice Evra. In Tevez’s case thinking his manager telling him to ‘go for a warm-up’ meant ‘continue to sit there sulking on the subs bench’ was the catalyst for an extended period of inactivity.
Suarez was handed an eight game ban for his indiscretion whilst Tevez’s self-imposed exile on the fairways of Argentina saw him miss City’s games between October and March. He did return to the club in February, but it took a good deal of apologising and Weightwatchers classes before Roberto Mancini considered allowing him back into the fold.
When available, Suarez plays almost all of the time and his attendance record of 80 per cent is better than a lot of Liverpool players who weren’t handed eight game bans last term. He was available for selection in 41 of Liverpool’s 51 games last season. In contrast, Tevez’s attendance record was all about quality over quantity. His sabbatical meant he was available for selection in just 33 per cent of Manchester City’s 55 games last term, but the vital contribution in the final weeks of the season was crucial in narrowly getting the Citizens over the line.