Carlos Tevez's representatives held preliminary talks with Milan in Italy yesterday which could bring a £25m deal for the Manchester City striker in the January transfer window.
The Argentine may have to go to some lengths to demonstrate to the Italian side that he is in good enough physical condition to justify such an outlay. But The Independent understands he and the club are ready to do whatever they can to overcome any such doubts, with sources in Italy suggesting last night that Milan's current predicament with strikers makes a move a viable option.
The Rossoneri's interest in discussing such a move has intensified now that Antonio Cassano is out for the season after undergoing a heart operation. Though 22-year-old Alexandre Pato has recovered from the thigh injury which has kept him out for almost two months, Milan are believed to have money to commit to reinforcing their strikeforce. Kia Joorabchian, Tevez's adviser, held discussions yesterday with the Milan vice-president, Adriano Galliani, and the sporting director, Ariedo Braida.
Though City declared when finding Tevez guilty of five contract breaches last month that they would not sell him for less than his "market value", and put that figure at around £40m, a £25m offer would be tempting, considering the state of dislocation between the club and former captain. The Independent revealed last week that the most City could recoup in compensation, if they ripped up his contract and sued him, would be £17m. City considered Tevez to be well below match-readiness even before his unsanctioned return to Argentina two weeks ago and his "market value" will drop for as long as he does not train at an elite level.
The most substantial impediment to a move would be wages. The view from Italy is that Tevez's current salary – £198,000 a week – is too high for the Serie A club. But Tevez may, again, be flexible enough to make such a move a possibility and sources in Italy said last night that a special programme of training could be prepared for him, to ensure that he is ready to play in January. Tevez is ineligible for the Champions League, though this does not seem to be an impediment for Milan.
Though Italy's Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper yesterday reported that Milan may offer around €5m (£4.3m) to take Tevez until the end of the season, followed by a €20m (£17.2m) agreement next summer, only a straight deal is likely to satisfy the Premier League club. City have made it clear they are not willing to contemplate a loan move for Tevez and, as yet, have had no direct discussions with Milan over him. However, they are unlikely to disapprove of any talks which may pave the way to a solution in a drawn-out saga which has dominated their autumn.
Tevez's pedigree when he is settled at a club cannot be doubted. He has scored 44 goals in 63 Premier League games for City and has demonstrated a consistency the City manager, Roberto Mancini, has yet to witness in either Edin Dzeko or Mario Balotelli, who returned to the club yesterday having been allowed an extended one-day stay in Italy after Tuesday's 2-1 defeat to Napoli.
Earlier this week, the former Milan defender Alessandro Costacurta said Tevez would be the ideal replacement for Cassano. "Tevez is perfect to replace Cassano," Costacurta said. "He is the ideal striker for Milan but he will have to be managed properly from a character standpoint. I have the impression he could create some problems if he is left on the bench and that will happen at Milan, considering the strikers in the team," Costacurta added.