MANCHESTER CITY manager Roberto Mancini has raised the prospect of a 12-month contract extension for Carlos Tevez – an extraordinary turnaround for a player who was in an outright state of rebellion with the club just a year ago.
It is unclear whether Tevez (28) will want to extend beyond the 18 months left on his five-year, £198,000-a-week deal or return to Argentina – as he has suggested he might.
But the fact that Mancini is considering an extension – which could potentially see the Argentinian playing for the club at the age of 31 and also secure more time to find a buyer rather than lose him on a free transfer – reveals how the striker has managed to make his peace and find an accommodation with the Italian.
"I don't know what Carlos thinks about this," Mancini said, ahead of tomorrow's critical visit to Arsenal.
"We have another 18 months and I think we have the time to talk with him about this. When Carlos takes his decision, he will talk with us.
"I remember when Carlos said 'when I finish my contract I go back to Argentina' but I don't know what he thinks now. But we have the time for this. A one-year extension could be (an option) because Carlos is 28 and he has other years to play."
Mancini, who has Aleksandr Kolarov back in contention but will be without Sergio Aguero until next weekend at the earliest, said that Manchester United would remain catchable even if they extend their lead at the top of the Premier League table to 10 points this weekend.
His logic was based on the 13-point swing which saw City lead United by five points at one stage last season, only for United to assume an eight-point advantage – and still sacrifice the title.
"It could be (a 10-point gap by Sunday)," Mancini said. "They (United) play at home against Liverpool; we play against Arsenal away. Everything is possible but it doesn't change the situation.
"Last year United recovered when we were five points up and after (losing at) Arsenal we went eight points behind. United recovered 13 points. So we recover 10. It is not a problem.
"There are some moments during a season that even a top team like United can lose points. We should be ready when United lose a point."
A central defender is the manager's target this month because the absence of Richards and Kolo Toure reduce his complement to three.
The manager delivered another declaration of faith in Mario Balotelli, of whom he said he was "very, very happy".
City believe a bid from Milan is possible, though Balotelli's former club Internazionale have also come into the equation, with sporting director Piero Ausilio claiming they have first refusal on the player, who moved from Inter to City in August 2010.
"The right of first refusal is there," Ausilio told Italian magazine 'Panorama'. "If Inter decide to exercise it, it will be a choice that will be made if City should decide to sell him."
Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has insisted that Arsenal have no option but to charge high ticket prices.
City supporters have had to fork out £62 for a ticket for tomorrow's match and the club have sent back more than 900 of their allocation, which will be re-sold to home fans.
Despite all this week's criticism, Wenger said Arsenal need to charge high prices if they are to compete with those clubs funded by benefactors.
"Ideally, you want ticket prices to be as low as possible," Wenger said. "But, on the other hand, the only way we can pay the wages and compete without any external help is with the ticket prices because it is our main income."
Wenger was more sympathetic to the home fans than those travelling to the Emirates: "I am really worried they are high for our supporters. For the visitors, it only happens once per year so that is less a concern."
Wenger said that individuals had to choose whether to attend football, as they would with other forms of public entertainment.
"If you want to go to a concert tomorrow, you look at the price of a ticket and after if it is too high for you, you say yes or no," Wenger said. "That is everybody's individual responsibility."
Wenger added that Theo Walcott (left) was close to agreeing terms for a new contract. "We are on a good road but in this situation as long as nothing is signed, you are cautious," said the manager.
"I am optimistic we will get to a happy conclusion. I was optimistic last week and I am a bit more optimistic this week."
(© Independent News Service)
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