Bassedas: Frugality a must for Argentine clubs

BUENOS AIRES - Bringing a player of Carlos Tevez's quality back to an Argentine club is a pipe dream in the financially weak domestic game, according to Velez Sarsfield sporting director Christian Bassedas.

A transfer in Argentina comparable to Ronaldinho's return to Brazil last month to play for Flamengo is unthinkable, said the former Argentina player.

"We can't compete with Brazil. Brazil is backed by very strong companies and that's not the case here," Bassedas told Reuters in an interview at Velez's training complex outside Buenos Aires.

Top Argentina striker Tevez, who moved to Manchester City from neighbours United in 2009, had left Boca Juniors for Corinthians in Brazil in 2004 for around $20 million, then the biggest deal in South American football.

Three times South America's Player of the Year between 2003 and 2005, the 26-year-old has priced himself well out of the Argentine market but during bouts of homesickness has more than once said he wanted to return home.

In Argentina, the secret of clubs like Velez, looking to build a side to emulate their brilliant team of the 1990s, and first division title holders Estudiantes is that they are well run on a tight budget.

"If you look at the administration of River Plate in the last 10 years, it's been very poor. I say that with all due respect," said Bassedas referring to one of the world's biggest clubs.

"River sold players non-stop, they should be in a much better position," added the 37-year-old.

River Plate were big exporters of talent in the 1990s and early 2000s when the likes of Argentina World Cup players Pablo Aimar and Javier Saviola were transferred to European clubs.

Now, club president and former captain and coach Daniel Passarella, who claims the previous administration bled the club dry, is hanging on to top asset Gabriel Funes Mori hoping for a better offer than Benfica's 10 million euros.

River were 79 million Argentine pesos ($19.72 million) in the red in the latest balance shared by the previous and present administrations, Passarella told the Sports daily Ole last week.

Passarella will not spend on top players, believing River can steer clear of relegation at the end of the season in June with their present squad of aging veterans, raw youngsters and journeymen players.

Meanwhile, former River playmaker Andres D'Alessandro is thriving at Brazil's South American champions Internacional who have added to their Argentine contingent by signing ex-River striker Fernando Cavenaghi on loan from Girondins Bordeaux.

ETHICAL ADMINISTRATION

"At Velez my experience was always of a club run on sound ethical grounds," said Bassedas, who spent all his formative years and 10 as a professional at club founded in 1910 by Italian immigrants.

"That's how a structure like this club can be maintained and that's how they can pay the contracts they take on," added Bassedas, who was 21 when he helped Velez win the world club title in 1994, 27 when he moved to England to play for Newcastle United and 30 when he made a surprise decision to retire.

Bassedas played a key role as Velez, winners of the Clausura championship in 2009 at the end of his first season as sporting director and runners-up to Estudiantes in this season's Apertura in December, made two measured signings in the summer off-season.

Velez signed Argentine-born former Mexico striker Guillermo Franco as a free agent and also recruited attacking midfielder David Ramirez, a late developer from modest Mendoza provincial side Godoy Cruz for a reported $2 million.

"Ramirez is a player I really like, who achieved success and recognition at 29 but who I think can enrich all the kids in our youth scheme.

"This leap [for him] is like going to Europe," added Bassedas, well aware that many talented players in Argentina miss the boat of a lucrative move to a European club.

"Velez always had a very rich youth scheme. Those (players) in the middle (in age) are the ones who want to go abroad and bringing them (to an Argentine club) is impossible because you can't compete with the international market."