Mancini wants £38m Eto'o in straight swap for Tevez
Talisman heads closer to Inter switch but City manager must convince board over 30-year-old Cameroon star
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini will try to persuade his board to sanction a straight swap deal involving Carlos Tevez and Samuel Eto'o of Internazionale, despite profound doubts at City about the acquisition of a 30-year-old with no Premier League experience and minimal sell-on value.
Mancini knows he faces a tough task persuading the club to trust in his instincts on Eto'o, a player he respects hugely and whose arrival in a deal which would value each player at around £38m would remove all the problems associated with the return to England tomorrow of Tevez. The view from board level at the club yesterday revealed that the manager has a mountain to climb. But Mancini openly declared in late June that a swap deal had been considered for the Cameroonian and there is a view within the club that his decision to do so prompted the statement of 4 July, in which Tevez reiterated his desire to leave City.
Mancini has been conjuring with the idea of a deal to bring in the Cameroonian from early in the summer and resolved to encourage such a move and urge his board to listen to what Inter have to offer if their proprietor, Massimo Moratti, were to prove keen to do business. While Eto'o wants to leave for a final big deal before retirement, Tevez has long hankered after a move to Italy and the similar salaries the two command would appear to help City overcome the problem of the Argentine's prohibitive pay demands, which Moratti has already balked at earlier this summer.
Yet despite having made a putative move for Eto'o when he was a Barcelona player two years ago, the City board are unlikely to view this as a match made in heaven, with no guarantees that the player would be able to adapt quickly to the demands of Premier League football.
Mancini has made it clear this summer that he is prepared to push hard for the control he believes he is entitled to. "If the manager loses it's the manager who is sacked, so I think the manager needs to take every decision. If he makes a mistake, he pays for it," he said on tour in Los Angeles last week.
There was no huge optimism from Mancini yesterday that he was closer to winning this battle, though it is unclear what challenges Tevez's return will present. Mancini was non-committal in Los Angeles about who would be captain if the Argentine comes back and Vincent Kompany now seems made for the role.
Mancini also has his work cut out in the pursuit of Arsenal's Samir Nasri. He feels all the momentum has gone from City's quest to secure the Frenchman's services and Nasri's reluctance to reveal publicly his desire to leave north London – as Luka Modric has at Tottenham – reflects that he views manager Arsène Wenger's reluctance to release him with equanimity.
Nasri's failure to secure a move now deprives him of the higher salary he covets and – to his mind – the prospect of imminent silverware. But he knows he will play every game of the forthcoming season at Arsenal and will thus be able potentially to push for a place in France's side in next summer's European Championship, by which time he will be a free agent. Nasri, who always felt Arsenal were a stepping stone for him in England, certainly does not seem as desperate to move on as his team-mate Cesc Fabregas.
City are likely to start with their two main summer signings on the bench for Sunday's Community Shield with Manchester United. Gaël Clichy was rested from Sunday's mini-tournament in Dublin because of a clash of heads in the match with LA Galaxy and it is unlikely Mancini will consider Aleksandar Kolarov match-fit to face the Premier League champions. Sergio Aguero is also unlikely to start after a week of light training. Edin Dzeko has looked very strong in training, reflecting the sharper display from the player in Dublin.
City's David Silva, who was sublime in the 3-0 defeat of Inter in Dublin, has said he does not believe Tevez will struggle with his return to City. "Carlos has to return and, well, that's great. He's a very important player. I don't think [anyone will have a problem with him]. We know Carlos well. If he stays – great. There are a lot of competitions and we hope to play well in all. He'd help that. When he's on holiday you have to leave him be and let him relax. That way he comes back and actually can't wait to come back.
"Aguero is a brilliant player. I think he'll turn out very well and he can really help us. We have to adapt with him and he has to adapt with us. But I don't see a problem with that. And I doubt he does either."
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