Manchester city manager Roberto Mancini insisted last night that he did not believe Carlos Tevez wanted to leave the club and that he could persuade him to stay when the two meet tomorrow.
Mancini has not spoken to Tevez since the faxed transfer request sent by his lawyers reached Eastlands on Tuesday and does not seem to have been left with the impression that the striker wants out of the club.
Mancini will attempt to persuade him that he should stay when he returns from Turin, where his side play their final Europa League group stage game against Juventus tonight.
If Mancini cannot convince Tevez to remain at the club, he suggested that he is ready to force him to.
Mancini said: “I'm disappointed because I think that we are in a good moment and we have a good position in the table. Our focus must be on this, but before that, I said I want to speak with him.
“I'm happy for the team and other things, but I want to speak with Carlos and I repeat, Carlos has three years on his contract and, yes, I want him to stay”.
Asked if he felt he could change the player's mind, Mancini said: “I don't know. He is our player and it's my opinion that Carlos will stay with us. But I want to speak with him. He can continue to play for us.”
The signals from Tevez continue to perplex those who have watched him wander cheerfully into training over the past few weeks.
He told at least one of the ancillary staff at Carrington on Tuesday that he “wasn't leaving”, though we can't read anything into that. The Argentine's affection for the blue-collar staff at his club was made manifest last season when a delivery vehicle with “18 TVs for Tevez” bowled up and it transpired that he bought them one each.
If life were as uncomplicated as that relationship, the past week would have passed without event. There have also been Christmas presents from Tevez for some staff, but instead of a gift Mancini is looking forward to speaking to his captain.
What would he say to him tomorrow, he was asked. “Good morning,” Mancini replied.
“I will see him on Friday, but I don't know. He is like a lot of players. It is important that we speak because we have important games, against Everton on Monday and some very important games this month, but I don't know what I can say. It will be a
private conversation, but I don't know what I will say yet.
“I think Carlos has more than three years on his contract and he is our player and I hope he continues to play with us and continues to score for us.
“I have been in Italy, he in Tenerife, but I will meet him Friday, I won't speak to him before then.
“I spoke with him a lot of times, the last time was last week, last Wednesday, and he told me [he wanted to go]. But I hope he can continue to be unhappy because he has scored 10 goals already this season as an unhappy player.”
Was he being badly advised by his manager Kia Joorabchian, Mancini was asked. “I don't know.” he said.
“I think that we start the season, an important season, and he is an important player for us. I will say that he should stay here.
“I think we can change one mind, always, but in this moment, he is an important player. We can change the history of the club and together, we can do good work this year.”
Mancini said at the start of the season that he accepted it was
best to let unhappy players leave. “No,” he said when that observation was read back to him.
“If Carlos is unhappy at the moment, but has scored 10 goals, I hope he will be unhappy for the rest of the season.”
It was a point that was also made by midfielder Patrick Vieira, who claimed that Tevez's desire to leave had not had a disruptive effect on the City dressing room.
“We haven't talked about it among the players,” Vieira said, “but in the last few days he has been the same Carlos that started the season.”
Mario Balotelli has not been left out of City's side in Turin tonight to protect him from possible racism from the Juventus fans, Mancini said.
“I decided to keep him at home because we have a difficult period of games, play every three days, so I'd like to preserve him for this reason.”
City need to produce a better result than Lech Poznan to go through as group winners and avoid a Champions League drop-out side.
Only a City defeat and a win for Poznan against Salzburg would prevent that. “We want to win the group,”
Mancini said. “We don't want to play a Champions League team in February. But it is important for the players to play in these games.”