Manchester City have received the first public signal that Carlos Tevez's limited options to move on may consign him to the club for another year – although this may sow new and immediate seeds of conflict between him and the club's board.
Tevez has spoken of how there would not be "a massive void in my life" if he does not leave for either Real Madrid, Barcelona or Internazionale and, although he has said that Roberto Mancini "creates tension" in the City ranks, the allure of Champions League football seems significant to him. "Everything at City is being built to be successful," he said yesterday. "We have the makings of a great team and we are heading in the right direction."
The City captain is positioning himself as a player with a direct line to the club's owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whom he claims directly offered him a new £250,000-a-week contract to stay at Eastlands after the FA Cup final win over Stoke City. City reject any notion that Tevez has a direct line to Sheikh Mansour and dismiss the notion of the proposed deal, although no one denies the Argentine has spoken directly to chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak, in Abu Dhabi. It was Khaldoon who told him he would not be leaving the club when he tabled a transfer request last December.
The suspicion now, as then, is that Tevez's City future will depend on a club coming in with an offer. "[Sheikh Mansour] signed me, he wants to keep me but, at the same time, he has told me to do whatever I need to do to be happy," Tevez said. "He has told me, 'If you want to leave, you can go'. There is no deadline – it's down to me. They offered me a new contract in December but I didn't want to extend it. At the end of the season they offered me another new deal but at the moment I don't know whether I will accept it."
Despite Tevez's comments about Sheikh Mansour, the Eastlands board will be unwilling to let Tevez go for much less than £50m. That price will limit the player's options. Spain seems to offer his best prospect. Although Inter are understood to have a long-standing interest, president Massimo Moratti has said that he has "a good team". Roma, where a new ownership consortium led by Thomas R DiBenedetto has brought wealth , and Juventus are other potential buyers, although neither side will be playing Champions League football next season.
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