Batista: Tevez not the player he used to be

Argentina manager Sergio Batista has told FourFourTwo that he thinks Carlos Tevez is not the player he was a few years ago.

The 48-year-old claims that by working tirelessly to help his team and win the hearts of supporters, Tevez has lost the attacking spark he once had.

Speaking in the August 2011 issue of FourFourTwo magazine - out now - he says:

"I liked the Tevez a few years ago who was capable of dribbling past two defenders and scoring, or making someone else score with an incredible assist.

"Now, he’s become the player of the people by doing other things, like running and tackling, and perhaps he’s forgotten the main aspect of his game.”

This harsh criticism comes despite the 27-year-old having a better goalscoring ratio at Manchester City than at any of his previous clubs and finishing last season as the Premier League’s joint top goalscorer with 20 goals in just 28 league appearances.

Batista, who took over from Diego Maradona as manager of the Albiceleste in July last year, also has strong views on how the world’s best player, Lionel Messi, should be utilised.

“To me, he is a No.9. I’ve talked to [Pep] Guardiola at Barcelona and I agree on what he wanted from Messi this season; to be more in touch with the ball," he says.

"He has the freedom to move and get all the space he needs, but he is my centre-forward."

The former defensive midfielder, who won 39 caps for his country as a player, is clearly eager to get the best out of Messi in a sky blue and white shirt, but he is also concerned about the future of Argentinian football and talks about a lack of technical ability in the Primera Division.

The full in-depth interview with Batista can be found in the August 2011 issue of FourFourTwo – out now – which also includes an exclusive insight into the workings of Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, your questions answered by Marco Materazzi and features on Paul Lambert's managerial rise, the 25 most hated teams of all time and the maddest man in football. Subscribe now!

By Tim Groves