BUENOS AIRES (Reuters) - Colombia striker Teofilo Gutierrez, who pulled a gun on team mates when he was at Racing Club, is back in Argentina as River Plate's big hope for the new season, which that kicks off on the weekend.
Gutierrez forced his way out of Mexico's Cruz Azul to fulfil his dream to play for River as soon as coach Ramon Diaz showed an interest in bringing the striker back to Buenos Aires.
The Colombian had a controversial spell at Racing in the 2011/12 season where, after a home match in which he was sent off, he pulled a gun out of his bag in the dressing room and pointed it at team mates.
Although it turned out to be a toy gun, it was the final straw for a squad who had mixed feelings about the player, a great talent but a trouble-maker, who often got himself sent off for reacting to minor provocations leaving his team man short.
"Now my toy, the one I'll always carry (in my bag), is not a revolver but a ball...I want to show I've matured," the practising Christian told the sports daily Ole this week.
Gutierrez put his career back on track at Atletico Junior, in his home city of Barranquilla, earning a place in the Colombia attack alongside Radamel Falcao in the World Cup qualifiers and a lucrative move to Cruz Azul.
As a fan of River, where Colombians Juan Pablo Angel, Mario Yepes and Falcao first made their names, Gutierrez could not resist the call from former River, Inter Milan and Argentina striker Diaz.
"The quality of River's game is admired the world over, they're a team that go out to win on any ground," the 28-year-old said.
"I've come to a very powerful club in all senses, it's like saying I'm at Barcelona or Real Madrid."
Diaz discarded former France striker David Trezeguet and set his sights on a younger top quality striker to win the "Inicial" championship, first of two in the season.
Trezeguet, still keen to play in the Argentine league at 35, has gone on loan to title holders Newell's Old Boys, winners of the "Final" championship in June.
He fills the void left by the departure to Brazil's International of Argentina striker Ignacio Scocco in a $6.5 million deal, a big money transfer by South American standards.
River's arch-rivals Boca Juniors, who had a poor 2012/13 season finishing near the bottom of the "Final", have strengthened their defence with the return from Europe of centre back Daniel 'Cata' Diaz and holding midfielder Fernando Gago.
Up front, Boca coach Carlos Bianchi has off-loaded Uruguayan striker Santiago 'Tank' Silva and brought in Emanuel Gigliotti, who scored 21 goals for Colon last season.
Boca last won the first division crown in the 2011 Apertura championship while River, having won the 2011-12 Primera B National second tier title after their traumatic relegation a year earlier, are looking for their first since the 2008 Clausura.
The Boca-River "superclasico", the biggest game on the Argentine league calendar, delivered two mediocre draws last season but the team building efforts of their coaches are full of the promise of a great clash when they meet at the Monumental in October.
Independiente's shock relegation means the second biggest derby in the Buenos Aires suburb of Avellaneda against arch-rivals Racing is off the calendar.
However, two other major "clasicos" are back.
Rosario Central were promoted as B National champions and will renew hostilities with Newell's Old Boys while Gimnasia's promotion means the revival of the La Plata derby against Estudiantes.
(Writing by Rex Gowar in London. Editing by Patrick Johnston)