Thursday 14 December 2017

City eye up Van Persie swoop to replace Tevez

Mark Ogden and Jason Burt

CARLOS TEVEZ is likely to be sold for a reduced £20m in January, with Manchester City considering Arsenal's Robin van Persie as a replacement.

Having been suspended for two weeks by City on Wednesday evening as a result of his refusal to play as a substitute against Bayern Munich 24 hours earlier -- a show of defiance which prompted manager Roberto Mancini to declare that Tevez was 'finished' as a City player -- the Argentinian was absent from training yesterday as the first-team squad prepared for tomorrow's Premier League trip to Blackburn.

But with City launching a full investigation into the incident at the Allianz Arena, which is expected to take up to seven working days, the likelihood of anything but an imperfect solution to the situation has become evident to all parties involved.

The prospect of City sacking Tevez for his actions in Munich have receded because of the difficulty in proving that the player refused to follow Mancini's instructions. Attempts to interview players sitting on the bench with Tevez at the time are viewed as being unlikely to result in team-mates being able, or willing, to state categorically that the former City captain refused to play as a sub.

City's Abu Dhabi hierarchy, in tandem with Mancini, are also reluctant to allow an asset -- valued at £50m during the summer -- to leave the club for nothing, especially when the cost of replacing him with Van Persie could exceed £20m.

The prospect of a protracted legal battle with Tevez should his contract be cancelled is another factor in City's increasing reluctance to sack the player.

An uneasy truce is expected to be struck that sees Tevez, Mancini and City officials agree to lower the temperature at Eastlands until January, although the prospect of the player returning to the first-team fold, either in games or training, is highly unlikely.

City could impose a fine of six-weeks' wages totalling approximately £1.2m as a result of his behaviour in Munich. Currently, fines in excess of two weeks' wages must be approved by the PFA.

While Mancini's stance on Tevez has not wavered since Tuesday evening, the Italian is prepared to consider Bosnian forward Edin Dzeko for a first-team recall at Ewood Park having initially insisted he would be dropped to the bench for a show of dissent in the wake of being substituted against Bayern.

Dzeko, a £27m buy from Wolfsburg, cleared the air with Mancini yesterday before issuing a statement on the club's website to apologise for his actions.

Dzeko said: "I know my reaction was bad and I have spoken to the guys and to the coach as well. I have apologised for the reaction and Roberto has accepted it and said that everything is okay. I was unhappy because we were 2-0 down and I wanted to win the game.

"It was something special for me to go back to Germany where I played for a long time and I wanted to do well. Things didn't go well for us. That is why I was extra frustrated."

Despite his suspension, Tevez is understood to have made it clear to City that he will not return to Argentina during the two-week period of his club ban unless given explicit permission by the Eastlands hierarchy to do so.

Tevez has made several journeys back to Buenos Aires in recent months, but he is expected to be omitted from the Argentina squad for the forthcoming fixtures against Chile and Venezuela due to coach Alex Sabella questioning the 27-year-old's fitness.

Sabella said: "He (Tevez) is not fully fit and I've heard he's not training well at the moment and put on a bit of weight. But that doesn't mean to say he won't be considered in the future."

Tevez's City and Argentina team-mate Pablo Zabaleta, who was sitting next to Tevez at the time of his apparent refusal to play, has insisted that the former Manchester United forward should be helped by his club and team-mates.

"We need to try to help Carlos," said Zabaleta. "He has been a really important player for us in the last two years, but maybe this season he has had more games on the bench. Sometimes that is difficult -- and more so for strikers, who need to score, need to feel confidence.

"We need to accept that sometimes we are on the bench, but we always have to be looking to get into the team," said Zabaleta.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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