Carlos TEvez is facing the prospect of another six months as an outcast at Manchester City after negotiations over a transfer to AC Milan collapsed last night .
Tevez, who has been absent from the first-team picture at the Etihad Stadium since being told he was "finished" at the club by manager Roberto Mancini following his actions as a substitute against Bayern Munich in September, has been in dispute with City since returning to his native Argentina without permission last November.
However, talks involving City, Milan and Tevez's advisers over the past month had appeared to be reaching a positive conclusion for all parties, with an agreement close to being reached over a deal that would have taken the player to the San Siro.
Negotiations in London yesterday involving Milan vice-president Adriano Galliani, lawyer Lorenzo Cantamessa and City officials Brian Marwood and John MacBeath, plus Tevez's representatives, had been expected to result in a deal being struck.
But City's refusal to accept Milan's attempt to sign Tevez on loan with an agreement to complete a permanent £25m deal in the summer saw the talks collapse, leaving the former Manchester United forward less than three weeks to find another club.
It is understood that Milan had been prepared to compromise on their stance and move closer to meeting City's demands.
But the 11th-hour breakdown of Pato's proposed £22m transfer from Milan to Paris St-Germain yesterday prompted the Italian club to halt their negotiations with City.
Although Inter Milan have contacted City to register an interest in Tevez, the only serious bidder for the 27-year-old had been their city rivals, Milan.
Brazilian club Corinthians, who aborted a move for Tevez last summer, have been unable to finance a new move for the player, while interest from Juventus and Paris St-Germain has been no more than tentative.
Having previously experienced Milan's brinkmanship in transfer negotiations during their failed attempt to sign Kaka from the San Siro in January 2009 -- which led to former City chief executive Garry Cook accusing the seven-time European champions of "bottling it" -- there remains a sense within the Etihad Stadium that talks could yet resume over Tevez before the January 31 deadline.
But senior City figures are understood to be relaxed at the prospect of Tevez continuing to be their player after the closure of the transfer window, despite an acceptance that there is little or no prospect of the former captain returning to first-team contention.
Mancini's stance on Tevez, and his insistence that he will not play for the club again, has been backed by City owner Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al Nahyan and chairman Khaldoon al-Mubarak and the club's Abu Dhabi hierarchy are determined to ensure that the player will only leave on their terms.
As such, City's position remains that they will only countenance Tevez's permanent sale. Meanwhile, City winger David Silva is facing a race to be fit for the Premier League title battle with Tottenham on January 21 after returning to his native Gran Canaria for treatment on an ankle injury.
Mario Balotelli is expected to be fit for the Wigan game after limping out of the Liverpool defeat with an ankle injury.
The Italian was involved in another bizarre incident yesterday when he parked his white Bentley outside Xaverian College in Manchester and then walked in to ask if he could use the toilet. He stayed at the school for 20 minutes speaking to staff and pupils. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
City's missing stars
Vincent Kompany -- Suspended for three more games.
Kolo Toure -- Africa Cup of Nations, back mid-February.
Yaya Toure -- Africa Cup of Nations, back mid-February.
David Silva -- Ankle injury, battling to be fit for Spurs on February 21.
Mario Balotelli -- Ankle injury, expected back at Wigan on February 15.
Carlos Tevez -- AWOL in Buenos Aires. No return date.