Liverpool's negotiating position has placed them behind Manchester City in the pursuit of Manchester United forward Carlos Tevez. Rafael Benitez does not appear to be willing to match the £25.5m the Argentinian's representatives are seeking from United for the settlement of the loan of the player, under a deal which expires at the end of this month.
The wages being offered by City are also superior to Liverpool's which would seem to make them a prime contender for his services. Chelsea and Real Madrid are also understood to have matched the requirements of the investment consortium, headed by Kia Joorabchian, which holds the player's rights – though Chelsea's pursuit of Kaka reveals that Tevez could not expect to command the regular first-team football which he so craves.
There was still little optimism from Tevez's representatives yesterday that a meeting tomorrow with United chief executive David Gill may pave the way to a deal to secure the player's services permanently. If the player does not stay, United may reflect that £25.5m is better spent reinforcing the midfield which was so clearly outclassed against Barcelona last week.
A mitigating factor for the failure to stem Barcelona's tide came to light when it emerged that Michael Carrick, whose struggle to cope with Xavi and Andres Iniesta was a significant factor in Manchester United's Champions League defeat, was playing with a broken toe. United could not confirm last night whether the injury was sustained in the final or beforehand but the pain the 27-year-old would have been in offers some explanation for the poor night Carrick experienced in the Stadio Olimpico.
But Sir Alex Ferguson's prime concern will be whether Owen Hargreaves, the player he signed from Bayern Munich to operate in the defensive midfield role where United looked to be lacking, will be ready for combat when the new season begins. Though the Englishman looked nimble enough when he trained on the turf at Stadio Olimpico last Tuesday night, it is understood he is not a guaranteed starter for the next campaign and that United will only know when the player returns to training at Carrington from 7 July how well he has responded to the two operations to heal his acute tendonitis problems.
Hargreaves has returned to the United States, where he was operated on, to continue his rehabilitation. His absence has been felt more keenly since Carrick's form dipped from March. Carrick showed no outward sign of discomfort in the match, playing the full 90 minutes while his midfield partner Anderson was withdrawn at half-time.
Jonny Evans, one of the revelations of United's season, has revealed his father Jackie's failure to make the grade as an apprentice at Chelsea and Arsenal had led his parents to keep his links with Manchester United quiet until he broke into the senior side.
"It's quite a big thing to go across the water and then have to come back," said Evans. "You're sort of seen as a failure, which is a lot of pressure and something that would be really hard to take." Evans Snr did make a name with Irish league side Crusaders.