Argentine football legend Diego Maradona has defended compatriot Carlos Tevez's big money transfer to China's Shanghai Shenhua from Boca Juniors.

According to Maradona, Tevez "did what he had to do" by going to China and "did not defraud anybody", reports Xinhua news agency.

Carlos Tevez was transferred to Shanghai Shenhua in December where he will earn around $40 million a year despite pleas from his fellow players and fans of Boca Juniors for him to stay. Boca Juniors made $11 million from the transfer.

"The fans of Boca should thank him for coming back (in July 2015 from Juventus) but it is time that a money goes to a player, and not a manager or businessman," Maradona told sports newspaper Ole.

Maradona also criticised another Boca Juniors legend, Juan Roman Riquelme, who recently stated he would not have gone to China.

"If China had offered $50 million to Riquelme, he would be speaking Chinese today. Carlitos (Tevez) did not defraud or scam anybody. He simply offered an amazing offer and he has nothing to feel bad about," added the Mexico 1986 World Cup champion. "Riquelme and Maradona would have done the same."

Tevez, 32, is now the highest paid player in the world after the China deal.

Maradona admitted that Boca Juniors would suffer as "Tevez is irreplaceable".

"There is no player to be bought to replace him. Many are spoken of but nobody is in his class," said the legend.