Manchester City appeared to be inching closer to ending the Carlos Tevez transfer saga last night, with Internazionale – now the clear front-runners in the pursuit of him – only £4m short of the £25m asking price which may persuade the club to let him go.
A £20.7m bid for Tevez, tabled by Internazionale late on Thursday, failed to meet the club's valuation for a player who has been absent from Manchester since he took a flight to Argentina in late October. City, who re-established their lead in the Premier League through an Edin Dzeko header at Wigan last night – remain determined that Tevez will not hold them to ransom by effectively removing his services, though the desire to put an end to the matter means that the club are likely to accept a bid of around €30m (£24.8m). That is a 35 per cent drop on the £40m the club said they would demand when they last publicly commented on the player, having found him guilty of gross misconduct and fined him £792,000 on 25 October.
The developments came as the row surrounding Roberto Mancini's claim that Wayne Rooney tried to get the City captain, Vincent Kompany, sent off deepened, when the Italian brandished an imaginary red card for the third time in as many games, at Wigan. Rooney tweeted "was that Manchini (sic) waving a red card?" after the manager had demanded that Maynor Figueroa be dismissed for a deliberate handball in the 88th minute.
Mancini, who also made the gesture after Liverpool's Martin Skrtel conceded a penalty at City two weeks ago and then questioned why the same club's Glen Johnson had not been dismissed, rejected claims of double standards. "I used to do this but I don't want to say anything," he said. "I did. Wayne Rooney did this. It is normal with a chance like that to do it."
The manager admitted he was wrong to criticise Rooney but added: "I am on the bench. When you are near to the referee you can have more of an influence. I am on the bench and the referee cannot see me." The Wigan manager, Roberto Martinez, criticised Mancini's conduct. "I understand that in Italy, France and Spain it is acceptable to try and get a decision from the referee but it is different here," he said."
With no counterbid expected to come in from Milan this week, Inter are now emerging as favourites for Tevez. Though Milan have covered more ground in their attempt to line-up a deal – personal terms have been agreed with them, while contact between Inter and Tevez's representative, Kia Joorabchian, has not moved beyond an initial conversation – there are doubts about whether Milan actually have the money to meet City's demands. They anticipated selling Alexandre Pato to finance the deal and since that deal fell have been dependent on City agreeing to a loan – which Mancini's club will not.
Inter's manager, Claudio Ranieri, has cast some doubts as to Inter's own desire for Tevez. "We've found balance, what can this lad give us if he isn't playing and what will he take away," he said. "We're playing well and we've rediscovered that vital self-belief. It was said that the team was finished and the players washed up but they're showing that they still have a lot to say and do."