Tevez making a statement with City

Comparing players and eras is always a tricky business, especially when you’re talking about the best of the best.

Times change. Conditions are different. However, recognizable quality always stands out. This is clearly the case with Manchester City’s special Argentine, Carlos Tevez, a player who would not look out of place in any era.

Last week his boss, Roberto Mancini, told the press that he thinks that Tevez can inspire the blue half of Manchester in much the same way that Diego Maradona drove Napoli forward in the 1980’s as they vacuumed up silverware. Unfortunately, as history proved, that wasn’t the only thing that Napoli and Maradona were vacuuming up. But enough of idle chatter.

Tevez replied to his manager’s statement the only way an Argentine can, when asked about the comparison with the man regarded as the greatest of all time. "No," says Tevez, shaking his head. "You can’t compare. There’s only one Maradona."

Yes, Carlos, they did break the mold with Diego, but if we look at theses two players and what they achieved by the age of 25 (Tevez turned 26 in February), I actually think he is doing himself a disservice.

Tevez has won every major club title that South American football has to offer and he did this before he was even 21. He also gorged on trophies with City’s neighbors, United, in a two year spell that saw him complete the incredibly rare double of a Copa Libertadores and UEFA Champions League titles. Add the Gold Medal from the 2004 Athens Olympics and it makes Maradona’s trophy cabinet seem rather empty when comparing their achievements at the same age.

Of course, Maradona did have the ‘big one’ on his resume, the 1986 World Cup but who is to say that Tevez wouldn’t have equaled him if his hero hadn’t been in charge of the La Albiceleste last summer, but that’s another discussion all together.

Looking further back though, the similarities between the two men are eerily striking.

Maradona was raised in Villa Fiorito, a shantytown on the southern outskirts of Buenos Aires. Meanwhile, Tevez survived the mean streets of Ejército de Los Andes, better known as ‘Fuerte Apache’, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in all of Buenos Aires.

Both men made their professional debuts at ridiculously young ages. Maradona was 10 days shy of his sixteenth birthday when he represented Argentinos Juniors while Tevez was sixteen-and-a-half when he pulled on the shirt of Boca Juniors, the club that Maradona loves above all else.

They have also both been transferred for record amounts of money as the demand for their services has always attracted a premium. Diego twice broke the world record, moving to Barcelona and then to Napoli. It’s a little harder to track the amounts Tevez has generated due to his murky ownership agreement with Media Sports Investment but rumors abound that Manchester City paid in the region of $60-70 million dollars for him.

Then there are their playing styles.

As small squat men (Maradona is 5’5, Tevez 5’8) all their power is generated in powerful thighs. They’re both direct, forward-running players that have the unique ability to ride challenges. They’re goal scorers as well as goal makers and, perhaps most importantly, they both lead by example.

The energy, passion and commitment shown by each man is legendary, from Sao Paulo to Napoli, from Barcelona to London. They are loved equally by all the supporters of the clubs they’ve plied their trade in front of.

Now, we know why Maradona was considered to be the greatest ever. It’s because he almost single-handedly won a World Cup. I’m not going to say that Tevez can reach those heights with Argentina, because he has to share the stage with the one man who Argentines do compare to Diego, Lionel Messi. But on a club level, Tevez has all the ingredients to surpass what his hero achieved at Napoli.

And talking of Messi, if Tevez played for FC Barcelona do you think he would be considered Argentina’s greatest current player?

It’s a marketing conundrum. You’ve got Messi, clean cut, a sponsors dream. Tevez, scarred, ugly, rough, the kind of kid you would perhaps cross the street to avoid. The two best Argentine players since Maradona and they play and will continue to play in his shadow.

With the captaincy of Manchester City now resting on his arm, Carlos Tevez, now has the maturity and stature to realistically compare himself to the best. The next eight months will tell us whether he can go one step further.

Maradona was the king. Messi and Tevez are now in a race for his crown.

Nick Webster is a senior writer for FoxSoccer.com covering the Barclay’s Premier League and the English national team.