Carlos Tevez has refuted suggestions that he failed to follow Roberto Mancini's managerial instructions as part of a premeditated plan to force his exit from Manchester City.
Manchester City is a club in good hands
Chuck Culpepper says the 6-1 mauling dished to United is a barometer of how Abu Dhabi owners have reshaped the Premier League.
Tevez will not be sold at a cut-price rate. Read article
Mancini is now in a position of power at Manchester City. Read article
Sir Alex Ferguson humbled by Roberto Mancini's vision. Read article
Senior club officials, however, believe it is no coincidence that the Argentina international refused to warm up in a Champions League tie less than a week after City informed the player they would not pay him £6 million (Dh35.1m) of loyalty bonuses.
City argued that Tevez had forfeited the right to bonuses that contributed towards his contract when he formally requested a transfer last winter, then publicly reiterating his intention to leave in the summer.
Tevez insists that £6m "punishment" had nothing to do with the series of events at Bayern Munich that resulted in a club disciplinary hearing finding him guilty of breaching five contractual obligations. Tevez is expected to contest findings that resulted in a two-week playing ban (considered already served) and a fine of four weeks' wages (subject to approval by the Professional Footballers' Association).
People close to the player have also suggested that Tevez may pursue a defamation case against Mancini for stating that the player refused to play against Bayern, rather than prepare to play - which they accept he did.
The coterie of consultants that has done much to irk City in their relationship with Tevez has recently expanded to include "PR adviser" Paul McCarthy, who yesterday presented the forward's current stance.
"Carlos really wants to defend as strongly as possible that this was some sort of premeditated action, because of loss of loyalty earnings, bonuses," McCarthy said. "He absolutely refutes that and will fight that allegation and insinuation as strongly as he possibly can.
"He has been hurt by the insinuation that he refused to play when Manchester City's charges are refusal to resume to warming up. So that is where there is conflict, if there is any conflict at the moment ... he feels his reputation has been damaged by that."
McCarthy, who served as sports editor of The News of the World until the UK newspaper was shut down for employing a range of illegal methods, said that Tevez was considering "all options" for his future.
"He just wants to play football, that is all he has ever wanted to do," McCarthy said, repeating a phrase used by the Tevez camp in the player's regular periods of dispute.
That may be tested by City's insistence that Tevez will not be allowed to exit the club for anything less than "his true value".
Such is the strength of feeling among the club's Abu Dhabi hierarchy that they may leave the player without any football at all if a buyer is not prepared to meet an asking price that dropped to €40 million (Dh203.6m) plus €4m in add-ons during the last transfer window.
Then, Corinthians ultimately failed to provide bank guarantees required of them to conclude a transfer at a price no European club was prepared to meet.
While there remains interest in Tevez across the continent, well-placed observers believe that only the extravagant spending Russian side Anzhi Makhachkala would consider paying that level of transfer fee and matching the 27 year old's personal terms at City.
With Mancini granted complete authority never to select Tevez for a first-team fixture and the best part of three years remaining on his contract, the forward could be faced with accepting a substantial pay cut to facilitate a transfer away from City.
Though his proposed summer transfer to Corinthians was set up on a similar premise, the Brazilian club say they will only offer €18m for Tevez now.
"Although many people do not believe it, Tevez is much closer to the Corinthians than you can imagine," Andres Sanchez, the Corinthians president, said.
"The initial offer was €40m and that is now €18m because of all the problems he has faced back in England."
The National Sport
& Duncan Castles on