Manchester City are not willing to contemplate letting Carlos Tevez go for less than £50m this summer, despite the potentially disruptive consequences of him being forced to stay at the club against his will.
City believe the striker's development in the past two years has now placed him in the same price bracket as Chelsea's Fernando Torres, and the fact City are weighing up a price at all offers the first clear indication that they are willing to sell their talisman.
A £50m price tag certainly limits the number of clubs who would be capable of taking the 27-year-old and that may mean a difficult summer ahead with the player, who could feel himself to be priced out of the market. Italy would seem the most likely destination, but only Internazionale could afford that kind of sum, and the club may need to lay out in so many other areas that City's valuation could prove prohibitive.
Tevez is still facing a race against time to play in the FA Cup final, with his doctors doubtful that he will make the match a week on Saturday but the Argentine determined that he will. He has not yet started full training and having continued a personal regime of running and non-ball work he appears to be a doubt even for the bench in his club's home match with Tottenham next Tuesday. Roberto Mancini has said he must face Spurs to be considered for Wembley.
Inter are understood to have a long-standing interest in Tevez, despite president Massimo Moratti telling La Gazzetta dello Sport two days ago that he has "a good team" that "it would be a shame to dismantle" and that there was "absolutely no connection" with Tevez.
Roma, where a new ownership consortium led by Thomas R DiBenedetto has brought wealth, and Juventus are other potential buyers, though neither side will be playing Champions League football next season and the ultimate factor in Tevez's decision may revolve around that issue.
City are still unclear on Tevez's intentions, though Mancini may welcome a £50m boost to his coffers as the cash at his disposal in the summer is partly dependent on converting winter loan deals into permanent sales.
Even if a Champions League place can be secured, the transfer market philosophy at City will be based far more on value in the months ahead. Uefa hopes to begin work as early as October shadowing clubs who are at risk of falling foul of Michel Platini's Financial Fair Play regime. The club's anticipation that they would need to sell to buy this summer drove their activity in January, when players such as Shaun Wright-Phillips were refused loan deals because clubs did not want to commit to making a permanent deal.