Sir Alex Ferguson's last-ditch move to keep Carlos Tevez at Manchester United appears to be doomed.
And that leaves Manchester City in pole position to end the Argentine striker’s Old Trafford career.
In the wake of accepting a record £80million offer from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo, the United boss has stepped up his attempts to keep Tevez at the Premier League champions — even making several telephone calls to him from his holiday base in the Cote d'Azur.
The Scot’s battle to complete the transfer of the player who has spent two seasons on-loan at United has, however, met with stubborn resistance as Tevez is understood to have reiterated that he is still intent on leaving.
City remain well ahead of Liverpool in their pursuit of the player, with the Premier League runners-up looking to schedule any payment over four installments and unable to come close either to the fee or the wages which City could offer.
City's unconfirmed offer is £140,000 per week, while Chelsea are also a contender for his services.
United have not given up all hope of Tevez remaining with them, but suggestions that Franck Ribery might be heading to Old Trafford do not tally with the noises emerging from the club.
Indeed the French winger is just the latest player to come under Real Madrid’s radar, who are expected to sign David Villa this week.
In contrast, Ferguson may be forced to settle solely for Wigan Athletic's Antonio Valencia.