Carlos Tevez has fuelled Manchester City owner Sheikh Mansour's appetite for an audacious deal to bring Wayne Rooney to Eastlands by telling him: "With Wayne we will win everything."
The Argentine striker, who moved from Manchester United to City in 2009, was asked by the Sheikh for his advice on whether to pursue his former team-mate.
City are facing strong competition from Chelsea to sign the England striker, who appears set to stay in the Premier League when he leaves Manchester United in January rather than consider a move abroad to Real Madrid.
Chelsea will make a lower bid than City but are convinced, according to sources, that they are ahead in the running despite the assumption that Rooney wants to remain in the north west of England.
The Premier League champions believe that Alex Ferguson would rather sell to them, even though they would bid only around £20m, than City, who are expected to offer £35-40m, and that the United manager has the authority to do the deal.
However there is an acceptance that Chelsea will have to convince Rooney's wife Coleen to move south -- which she is understood to be reluctant to do -- while he is believed to be prepared to join Chelsea or City and has no qualms about either move.
Chelsea also believe they have an edge because of their track record of winning trophies, the experience of their squad and the reputation of their manager Carlo Ancelotti.
Nevertheless, and if money is a significant motivation for Rooney, they will not offer the same wages he would command at City, even though they will pay him substantially more than he is receiving at United.
It is a sign of how seriously City are taking their bid for Rooney that they have consulted Tevez, who played alongside the 24-year-old for two seasons at Old Trafford.
It is also clear that Mansour does not want to upset Tevez, who has endured a fractious relationship, at times, with City manager Roberto Mancini and who may fear that his role in the side will be usurped if Rooney is signed.
But Tevez, who is the City captain and has developed into the team's most important player, is hugely enthusiastic about the prospect of Rooney's arrival.
He greatly admires Rooney as a player and, the two are good friends, with Rooney having often given Tevez lifts to training or to Manchester airport for away games when they played together.
It has been claimed that City may look to sell Tevez if they sign Rooney, but the intention is to play both of them in the same side.
Signing Rooney would also relieve some of the pressure on Tevez, who has carried the City attack this season, with Emmanuel Adebayor out of form and out of favour -- until last night's Europa League hat-trick -- and Roque Santa Cruz struggling.
Indeed City supporters may regard Rooney as a replacement, in terms of his aggression and work rate, for Craig Bellamy who, similarly, had a strong relationship with Tevez. The City striker's enthusiastic response to the possibility of signing Rooney has encouraged Mansour to make a bid which may now prove decisive.
Roy Keane, who fell out spectacularly with Ferguson towards the end of his playing career at Old Trafford, said last night there is no way United would struggle were Rooney to leave.
"Man Utd will more than survive," said the Ipswich manager. Asked if Ferguson's side can still attract top-quality players, the former United captain added: "Absolutely, of course.
"If any player ever asked me, and one or two have, if they had a chance of signing for Man United, I'd say 'do it, you won't regret it'. I was there for 12 and a half years. I loved every minute of every day playing for that club."
Steve Bruce, the Sunderland manager and former United defender, said last night that the Rooney stand-off showed how much the balance of power had shifted to players.
"Tactics are only a little bit-part of what we face," Bruce said. "The biggest one is the man-management of the player now with the power they have since Bosman.
"The power is all with the players and that, for me, is sad because it is very, very difficult for any club, even Manchester United.
"It just shows you, even the best manager in the world with arguably one of the best clubs in the world still has the problems we all face.
"It's not for me to question Wayne Rooney, but the only thing I find strange is, I played there for the best part of 10 years and to question their ambition, I find that unbelievable."
Arsene Wenger said the subject of Rooney was "too sensitive" to talk about when asked if Arsenal would be interested in the England striker.
However, he said: "It shows you how fragile the position of any club is at the moment.
"When the players reach two years before the end of the contract, if you want to keep the value of it, you have to extend it or he will go for nothing in the end. The system is inflationary." (© Daily Telegraph, London)